One player we were very anxious to see at this past weekend's Nike Combine at USC was Eureka (Calif.) linebacker Rey Maualuga . Unlike the Nike Football Training Camps, we don't give out an official 'combine' MVP like we do following each Nike Camp, but if we did, Maualuga would have easily been a unanimous winner.
We were actually surprised when Maualuga called us to say he was coming down for the combine at USC. The combines are basically set up for players who are solid prospects but are on the fence in terms of getting an invite for the Nike camps. The combines are testing only events and don't have the position drills, one on one match-ups or speed training that the Nike Camps claim. Since Maualuga was a Student Sports Junior All-American last year, there was no question he would be invited to the Nike camp but he wanted to come out to SoCal anyway just to compete a little and see where he stacked up testing wise. The linebacker stacked up rather nicely to say the least.
Maualuga measured in at a rock solid 6-2.5, 241 pounds and looks like a college player right now. The big man clocked a 4.50 in the 40 on his first run and then with three watches on him since none of the other timers believed a player that big could ran that fast, busted out a 4.47 which was one of the fastest of the day. Maualuga followed that up with a 4.47 in the shuttle, jumped 32 inches in the vertical and did 32 reps on the bench.
"The 40 time was a personal best and I felt really good about how I did," Maualuga said. "I wanted to come out here to see where I was at so I could see what I need to work on before the Nike camp at Stanford. I'm already looking forward to that because I know I can do even better and plus there is some real football taking place at the camp and that's what I love."
As we mentioned earlier, along with his Junior All-American honor, Maualuga was a 1st team All-State Underclass selection last year and looks like a sure fire choice to be a pre-season Hot 100 selection as well. The 'backer totaled 140 tackles and five quarterback sacks a year ago and looks like a prototype inside linebacker. He's big, fast, hits like a truck and has good football instincts. You just don't see players with Maualuga's ability coming out of the Eureka area too often which is likely why he's still waiting for his first scholarship offer.
"I'm getting a lot of letters right now but no offers yet," Maualuga said. "It's a small town and I think a lot of colleges just want to see more of me first before they offer. I'm not worried about it, I know they'll come soon enough."
How Maualuga ended up at Eureka in the first place is a pretty interesting story. The 'backer played his freshman year at Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure and was invited by his father to Eureka to visit for Spring break.
"Once I got there, I was kind of told that I would be staying there and would now attend Eureka high school," Maualuga said. "It's been all right though but I love to visit Southern CA and that's another reason I wanted to come to the combine out here, it gave me an excuse to visit some old friends."
If Maualuga has his way, he could be spending a lot more time in the SoCal region for the next four or five years.
"USC is definitely my top school," Maualuga said. "I've always wanted to go there and even more so now because of how well they're playing. Plus I love the area here and the coaches are great. I also like Oklahoma, Michigan, Florida State and Washington.
Academically, Maualuga is carrying a 3.1 GPA and will take the SAT later in the year.