Maehler steppin’ up at West Point | SierraSun.com

Maehler steppin’ up at West Point

Sylas Wright
Sierra Sun

File photoTruckee High grad Jamie Maehler, now a sophomore at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., gives an opponent a straight arm during his days as a Wolverine.

Cadet Corporal Jamison Maehler is inching his way up the Army football depth chart.

Entering his sophomore season at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., the 2005 Truckee High grad is three deep at one of Army’s two wideout spots ” a primary backup role to standout starter Jeremy Trimble.

“I always thought it was just a matter of time before he’d step in there and get his playing time,” Bob Shaffer, Truckee’s head football coach, said of his former star receiver.

That game experience could come this fall for Maehler, who had worked his way up to No. 5 on the depth chart by season’s end last year ” a freshman year he’s glad to have under his belt.

“Thank God the first year is over,” said Maehler, one of 18 receivers on the Army roster. “It was a long year, with academics and football. But football is going well. Football is going great, actually.”

A rangy 6-foot-4, Maehler has beefed up in the weight room from 200 pounds to 213 since high school. And it’s all muscle.

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“I’m a lot more solid than last year. I can definitely take a lot more hits,” he said.

While growing stronger was key to competing in Division I football, learning a complex new offense under Black Knights head coach Bobby Ross also has made Maehler a better player. How much?

“About 40 million percent,” said Maehler, who now runs a 4.58-second 40-yard dash. “Last year I had to ask what to do on every play. Now I can explain the offense to people … It’s unbelievable how much I’ve improved, and it all really comes from knowing the offense. …

“You can’t make mistakes. There are five guys behind me and three in front.”

For Maehler, getting acquainted with the offense meant mastering a 650-page playbook, which he managed despite carrying a full load of 21.5 units during his first college semester. For that reason alone, Maehler said, he’s glad in retrospect to have paced the sidelines to soak everything in.

After all, Army’s schedule ” which includes a contest against nationally ranked Notre Dame this season ” is tougher than the Wolverines’.

Asked what was the biggest difference between playing high school and college ball, Maehler said the pace of the game.

“You can’t be hesitant. In high school you can get away with it, but not at this level,” he said. “And you have to be at the exact depth and alignment (running routes). It’s unbelievable how much you’ve got to know before you even line up. But you learn. You learn fast.”

Maehler is confident that his Army team is much improved after finishing 4-7 last season.

“Our team has really stepped up. I think we’ve made a huge improvement,” he said. “Everything as a whole looks good. There’s lots of returning players, so I think we’re definitely better than last year. The work ethic is amazing. Everyone is working hard.”

A hard worker himself, Maehler fits right in. In fact, Shaffer thinks that’s what sets Maehler apart from others in the sport.

“First and foremost is his work ethic,” Shaffer said of Maehler’s strength. “He is a great worker ” one of those kids coaches love to have as part of their group.”

Shaffer again had him as part of his group last May when Maehler returned home for a month-long visit. The only difference: This time Shaffer was doing the listening when Maehler joined the Truckee squad for some light practices and weight lifting.

“It was nice to see him again and hear about his experiences. It also gave me a chance to pick his brain a bit,” Shaffer said. ” I actually gave him the receivers one day to work on their skills and route running.”

Maehler said he enjoyed the visit.

“It was great hanging out with old friends, he said. “It’s always great to return to the old roots.”

Two-time first team all-state selection … established seven conference and school records on single game, season and career levels in receiving department … graduated with conference-record (Nevada 3A) 2,969 career receiving yards … set league single-season standard with 1,223 receiving yards as a junior … established school standard with 11 career touchdown receptions … became first player in Nevada football history to register a 200-yard receiving game … piled up single-game record 227 receiving yards in date against Sparks High during junior season … three-year letterwinner at wingback position … served as team captain as a senior … helped team to 3A Nevada State championship that year … earned four additional varsity letters in basketball … also lettered once in track and field … captained both programs during busy senior year … all-state post selection on hardwood … voted league’s most valuable player …

” Info from 2006 Army program