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Ex-Terp football player Mojo Rawley teams with Rob Gronkowski at WrestleMania

As a defensive lineman at Maryland, Dean Muhtadi was known mostly for his versatility on the field, his prowess in the weight room and his performance in the classroom.

In three seasons with the Terps, Muhtadi became only the second player in recent memory to play all four positions on the line in the same game, held position records for strength and speed, and was one of the ACC’s top student-athletes.

Nearly a decade removed from College Park, Muhtadi’s alter ego, a professional wrestler who goes by the name Mojo Rawley, is finally getting some national attention, with a little help from good friend Rob Gronkowski.

The biggest spotlight came Sunday night at WrestleMania 33 in Orlando, Fla., toward the end of a 20-man Battle Royale that came down to Rawley, clad in Maryland shorts, and WWE star Jinder Mahal.

After the two found their way outside the ring, Mahal tossed a drink in the face of Gronkowski, who was wearing a Maryland hat and sitting ringside with some of Rawley’s family.

When the pummelling continued inside the ring and Mahal was flailing away at Rawley in the corner, Gronkowski left his ringside seat, jumped into the fray and took Mahal down with a running shoulder tackle.

It allowed Rawley time to recover and finish the job and live up to his pre-match tweet:

“I was the first to declare. I will be the last one standing. This is my moment. You cannot take this from me. #MojoRising"

Rawley had trained for the match with Gronkowski at the football player’s home in Massachusetts.

“Getting my mind right with my bro @RobGronkowski. @WWE #Wrestlemania ready!!! I'm winning that Battle Royal!!!" Rawley had tweeted prior to the match. 

Muhtadi/Rawley still holds the Maryland record for bench pressing 225 pounds three dozen times, as well as holding the best 40 time (4.78 seconds) for a defensive tackle and defensive line records for the power clean (390 pounds), 20-yard shuttle drill (4.37 seconds) and vertical leap (36.5 inches).

A bit of an academic prodigy – he once had an internship with Morgan Stanley as a seventh-grader in Northern Virginia – Muhtadi/Rawley won the Jim and Pat Thacker post-graduate scholarship as one of the ACC’s top student-athletes. He had the highest GPA on the Maryland team as a junior and senior. He received his MBA from the Smith Business School.

The 30-year-old Rawley, who never made it past the preseason with a couple of NFL teams, has more than just one star athlete who believes in him.  

“If there’s anyone in the WWE who has more energy than me, it’s Mojo,” WWE Superstar John Cena recently told TheWrap. “I’ve never seen that guy in a bad mood. He just keeps it coming.”

don.markus@baltsun.com

twitter.com/sportsprof56

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