David Mayo: From Scappoose to the Super Bowl


    On February 7, 2016 the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers will do battle for the most coveted trophy in all of American football, the Lombardi trophy. Super Bowl 50 will take place in the home of the San Francisco 49ers, Levi’s Stadium, located in Santa Clara, California. 

    One player in particular that all of Scappoose, Oregon, Santa Monica, California and San Marcos, Texas will be watching is linebacker David Mayo. Before we talk about that, let’s take a look into what led up to Mayo playing on the Sunday that every player dreams about. 

    Growing Up

    Mayo grew up in the small town of Scappoose, Oregon that has an estimated population of around 7,000 people. Scappoose is located roughly 30 minutes northwest of Portland. Mayo is the youngest of seven children and he has three brothers and three sisters. 

    Ever since he was in the third grade, Mayo had dreams of one day playing in the NFL. One year later when his season got underway in the fourth grade, he knew he would be there one day. 

     “This has been my dream since I was in third grade and started playing football for the first time,” Mayo said. “My third-grade season, I remember thinking, ‘This sport is really hard. I don’t understand what’s going on.’ I remember my mom asking me one day at the end of the season, ‘Do you think you’re going to play again next season?’ I said, ‘I’ll give it one more shot.’ Fourth grade came and it just clicked with me and I had a blast playing. Ever since then, I thought I was going to go pro in my head. That was just my mind-set. I believed in myself and that’s pretty much carried on throughout my career. Through high school, I played my heart out and I thought I was going to be good enough to play Division I football.”*

    Being the youngest Mayo of the pack, that also meant he was the smallest of all the children. His siblings did their part to help toughen him up and help prepare and mold him into the player he is today. One incident that Mayo recalls is after a pee wee practice, his brother Derek, a high school student at the time, asked David if he wanted to play some football in the back yard. 

    “I thought it was going to be something fun,” Mayo said. “(I thought) we were going to throw the ball around or play two-hand touch.”**

    Derek had something else in mind. Today was going to be a lesson in toughness for the youngest Mayo brother. David was still in his pee wee uniform, pads and all and Derek decided to knock him to the ground. Every time he would get up, Derek would push him back down. 

    “It wasn’t bullying or trying to be a jerk, he was just being funny and trying to toughen me up a bit.”**

    Becoming A High School Athlete

    Along with playing football, Mayo also played basketball and was on the track and field team, participating in the shot put and discus events.

    David Mayo(33). Photo courtesy of thechronicleonline.com

    Photo courtesy of thechronicleonline.com
    Along with playing on the defensive side of the ball, Mayo also took snaps as a running back and had quite the senior season on offense. Mayo was an all-state player and played in 14 games in his final year of high school. He finished with 180 carries for 1123 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. He also caught the ball out of the back field for 12 receptions, 126 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown. He averaged 6.2 yards per carry and 10.5 yards per catch, 80.2 yards per game overall. 

    On the defensive side of the ball, he finished with 85 total tackles, 60 of those being solo tackles, 3 tackles for a loss, 2 QB sacks, one interception, 2 passes deflected and 2 forced fumbles. Did I mention he had quite the senior season? Still with all of this, not one Division-1 school offered him a scholarship.

    Choosing To Go To Santa Monica

    One school did offer Mayo a full ride, but it was not the school he envisioned it would be. Being from Oregon, naturally you want to play for the university of Oregon or Oregon State. Instead, Southern Oregon offered Mayo a scholarship to play football in the NAIA(National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics), where the Raiders were a powerhouse. 

    “I made good plays at linebacker but probably not as many explosive plays as they were looking for,” said Mayo.**

    Rather than just accepting the full ride at Southern Oregon, Mayo decided that he was not going to give up his dream of playing Division-1 football and his ultimate dream of playing in the NFL just yet. 

    “I think it was something about growing up that instilled confidence in myself,” Mayo said. “All my siblings and my parents think that I’m the greatest thing to ever hit the football field, so that helps a little bit. It’s really about believing in yourself. There’s people who doubted me and didn’t think I was good enough to play at the levels I’ve played. I think that’s fueled me even more. It pushed me to prove people wrong and prove that my belief in myself is real.”*

    Mayo didn’t just choose Santa Monica out of the blue one day. Santa Monica has a history of sending players to play Division-1 football. Some notable players to suit up for Santa Monica are former NFL Hall of Fame cornerback Jimmy Earl Johnson and wide receivers Chad Johnson, Isaac Bruce and Steve Smith Sr.

    And so off to Santa Monica, California went David Mayo.

    Living In A Shed

    While attending Santa Monica, Mayo knew the cost of living would not be cheap. Although his father and grandmother offered to pay his bills, he did not want to send them a large bill to pay every month. 

    After searching for a place to live, he did not find anything that matched the price range he set for himself. He opted to post an ad on Craigslist and stated that he would stay anywhere. He heard back from a woman who had a proposition for him. The woman stated that she rented out rooms in her home, which was located near campus, and although she was currently at capacity, she had a shed in the back yard that she would rent out to Mayo for $450 per month.

    The shed that David Mayo stayed in while attending Santa Monica
    The shed was not insulated, had a concrete floor and had no running water or electricity. For his money, he would have access to the kitchen, the bathroom and he would be allowed to run an extension cord to the shed to power up what he needed to. 

    “I would have my own place, so I was like, ‘Let’s do it. I need a place to stay,’” Mayo said.**

    “We stuck a bed in there and a little ottoman and said, ‘Let’s go!’ It was an experience, to say the least,” Mayo said.*

    When he was asked why he would put himself in this situation and live like this, Mayo gave the reason you were already thinking.

    “I definitely had my moments when I thought I was crazy, for sure,” he said. “I wanted to play football at the highest level so bad. I knew I had what it took. When I didn’t get that Division-1 offer out of high school, I knew I was going to have to do whatever it took to go where I wanted to go.”*


    David Mayo(34). Photo courtesy of thecorsaironline.com
    Mayo finished his lone season at Santa Monica with 68 tackles, 8 tackles for a loss, one QB sack, 2 passes deflected, recovered one fumble and was named to the first-team All Pacific Conference team. He also helped lead the Raiders to the Pacific Conference championship and a birth in the American Bowl. Yet stil he was only drawing interest from FCS schools. That is, until head coach Dennis Franchione was hired to lead the Bobcats for a second time.

    “I just wanted a football player,” Franchione said. “I liked him. He was upfront and honest. When David said it, you could take it to the bank and count on it.”**

    Mayo finally got the Division-1 offer he was looking for. He was offered a full scholarship by Francione and he accepted it. Mayo was now a member of the Texas State Bobcats. 


    David Mayo signs his NLI to play at Texas State. Photo courtesy of thechronicleonline.com

    “I’m pumped. I’m super excited,” Mayo said. “The campus is super nice. The stadium, the facilities – it’s D-1, they’re all super nice. That was my goal. I didn’t want to be there (at Santa Monica)more than a year.”***

    And off to San Marcos, Texas went David Mayo.

    Not So Much Of A Good Start

    Mayo had three years of eligibility left after playing one year at Santa Monica, but his first two were cut short to injury. 


    Photo courtesy of David Mayo’s twitter account, credit: Chris Moto
    In 2012, Mayo was able to start and play in 7 games for the Bobcats before suffering a meniscus tear and ending his season. In 7 games, Mayo recorded a total of 41 tackles, including 13 in one game against Nevada. This would be his highest output in one single game to date. More on that in a bit. 


    Photo courtesy of David Mayo’s twitter account
    In 2013, Mayo played in 10 games, started in 9 of them before missing the last two games of his season with a sprained MCL. He was named a team captain and was named All Sun Belt Second-Team. He finished his junior campaign with 89 total tackles, 63 of them being solo tackles, 4.5 tackles for a loss, one QB sack and 4 interceptions. Against Troy he broke his record for most tackles in a game, notching 16 tackles. This was the second highest ever in Sun Belt Conference history and the most ever for a Texas State player. Again, more on this in a bit. 


    Photo courtesy of David Mayo’s Instagram account
    In 2014, Mayo was finally one hundred percent healthy and was able to play an entire season for the Bobcats. He saved his best for last for the Texas State coaches and fans. Mayo finished second in the nation in tackles, racking up 154 total tackles for an average of 12.8 tackles per game, 72 of them being solo tackles. In addition to that, he contributed 4.5 tackles for a loss and 1.5 QB sacks, 2 pass break ups and 3 forced fumbles. He had games with total tackles of 15, 16, 17 and 20 in four different games. He saved his best performance for a game against Louisiana Monroe, totaling 22 tackles in that game. This was now his career best for tackles in a game and he was the only FBS player to accomplish this feat in 2014. Mayo also became the first Sun Belt Conference player to ever record 20 or more tackles in two separate games. 


    Photo courtesy of collegefootballdude.com
    In addition to all of that, Mayo was named the Sun Belt Conference defensive player of the year, was chosen to the All Sun Belt Conference First-Team and was named overall College Defensive Player of the Year by College Sports Madness and Phil Steele. 

    David Mayo had finally fulfilled one of his dreams, playing football at the Division-1 level and he was pretty darn good at it. So good at it that he would wind up fulfilling his ultimate childhood dream, playing in the NFL.

    And off to Charlotte, North Carolina and to the  NFL went David Mayo.

    With The 169th Overall Pick

    Once upon a time, David Mayo couldn’t even get Division-1 scouts to take a look at him and now he was being scouted to play in the NFL. 

    The Carolina Panthers ultimately wound up selecting Mayo with the 169th overall pick in the 5th round of the 2015 NFL draft. He did it. All of his hard work, sacrifices and dedication had paid off. Mayo officially became a member of the Panthers on May 7, 2015 when he signed his contract with them. 


    Phot courtesy of Panthers.com
    Mayo is currently the back up to linebacker Luke Kuechly, someone who has no problem mentoring Mayo. 

    “It’s awesome man! Luke and TD (Thomas Davis) are just on top of (things). Anytime we’re in the meeting room or on the field, I’m always asking Luke questions (since) he plays my position,” said Mayo. “He’s a great leader, he’s always helping me out, so it’s great.”


    Photo courtesy of David Mayo’s Instagram account

    His new head coach “Riverboat” Ron Rivera raved about Mayo.

    “(Texas State) did some interesting things with him. They played Navy and that option of theirs and they lined him deep in the middle like a deep middle linebacker and you saw him flow one way or the other,” Rivera said. “He’s got some natural feel as far as linebacker instincts, and he looks like he has some (strongside) linebacker ability as well.”**

    The Panthers finished the regular season with a record of 15-1 and earned the number one seed in the NFC. After earning a first round bye, the Panthers defeated the Seahwaks 31-24 to advance to the NFC championship game against the Arizona Cardinals. That NFC championship game was a lop sided game, as the Panthers cruised to a 49-15 victory and earned a trip to Super Bowl 50.

    Mayo will become the third Bobcat to ever play in a Super Bowl, Ricky Sanders and Ken Coffey were the other two Bobcats. Both Sanders and Coffey played with Washington and both won a Super Bowl ring, Coffey in Super Bowl XVII and Sanders in Super Bowl XXII. Sanders and AJ Johnson were also on Washington’s roster in 1991 when they won Super Bowl XXVI, however Johnson did not play in the game. If the Panthers win the game, Mayo will become the fourth former Bobcat to become Super Bowl champion. 

    Mayo has mainly seen playing time on the special teams unit and has totaled only 9 tackles for the special teams unit this season. That’s a far different output than the 154 he had last season with the Bobcats. If called upon, Mayo can come up with tackles for the Panthers, something that could happen in Super Bowl 50 since Thomas Davis is dealing with a broken arm. Davis has said that he fully intends to play, with good reason, but how effective he will be on Super Bowl Sunday is yet to be seen. 

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Mayo gets his name called by one of the announcers for making a play come Sunday. Either way, he has already made his family, friends and the fans in Scappoose, Santa Monica and especially in San Marcos very proud. 


    Photo courtesy of Panthers.com

    *This quote was used courtesy of an article written by Bill Huber, which you can read here.

    **This quote was used courtesy of an article written by Joseph Person, which you can read here.

    ***This quote was used courtesy of an article written by Kyle Boggs, which you can read here.

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    Jeff Cerda is the founder and editor at Heel/Face Wrestling, and is also a reporter for Texas Redzone Report, Bobcats Insider and FightScribe.com.


    1. Great article about a superb work ethic. It may be interesting to note that along with David will be Derek Anderson, also a Scappoose High School graduate. There are two men, from the same small rural town and high school in a rainy part of the country not usually known for raising football greats, about to step out onto football’s greatest stage. A great representation of the American dream.


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