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Tribal Warfare
06-14-2008, 04:48 AM
Rey Maualuga Interview ( http://kan.scout.com/a.z?s=115&p=2&c=761923&refid=400&CMP=OTC-K9B140813162&ATT=5 )


Scout Q&A: USC LB Rey Maualuga

By Chris Steuber
Scout.com NFL Draft Analyst
Posted Jun 13, 2008


USC's star LB Rey Maualuga was a sure first round pick if he decided to enter the 2008 draft, but he followed the path of one of his teammates and decided to stay. Scout.com's Chris Steuber spoke with Maualuga about his decision to stay in school, the transition of becoming a vocal leader and much more in this exclusive Q&A.

One of the best linebackers in the country, USCís Rey Maualuga is a tremendous physical presence on the Trojans defense and has been a consistent force. At 6-foot-2, 260 pounds, Maualuga is the prototypical inside linebacker that any team in the NFL would love to get their hands on, but they will have to wait another year.

Maualuga, after an outstanding performance in the Rose Bowl [four tackles, three sacks, an interception and a forced fumble], could have easily declared for the NFL Draft. But after witnessing the success his former teammate Keith Rivers enjoyed by staying his senior season, Maualuga decided to stay and define his game.

In this Scout.com exclusive, Chris Steuber asked Maualuga about his performance in the Rose Bowl, his decision to stay in school for his senior season, and becoming a vocal leader on a young USC team.


Chris Steuber: Take me back to the Rose Bowl this past season. You guys dominated Illinois, defeating them 49 Ė 17, and a major reason for it was because of your masterful performance. Iím sure you remember a lot about everything leading up to that game, but how special was that game for you?

Rey Maualuga: It was really special. All the preparation that went into that game and with everyone talking about Illinois made it that much better to win. I was nervous, but the coaches did a great job getting us prepared for the game. We did a lot of film study and put in a lot of extra work on the field prior to the game. It was a crazy time.

I woke up that morning and everybody seemed to have a little more bounce in their step; everyone was hype. I was actually sitting in the locker room, and I was telling the guys before the game that if Brian Cushing can win the MVP of the Rose Bowl [which occurred on New Year's Day 2007], why couldnít I win it today? I donít know what it was, but I just pictured myself intercepting the ball, picking a fumble up for a touchdown or just making a big play; it just happened. I was in the right place at the right time all day. I was focused and ready, and a couple days before the game my aunt passed away, my dadís sister. I took that into consideration and it motivated me to play the way that I did.

CS: After your performance in the Rose Bowl, everyone, including me, thought you would declare for the NFL Draft. But in the end, you decided to stay at USC for your senior season. What made you decide to stay, and did anyone influence your decision?

Maualuga: Keith Rivers played a big part in my decision, and I know he played a big part in Brian Cushingís decision as well. Our coaches told us to go and talk to Keith and see what his thoughts were on staying in school for our senior years. Brian and I just talked to him and he told us even though itís hard to come back to school another year, itís worth it, and it will pay off in the long run. To see his progression and the way he got better, it obviously paid off for him to get drafted in the top-ten.

CS: What did you see Keith Rivers improve on during his senior season that stood out to you and made you believe this off-season that you still had room to improve?

Maualuga: I think he became more instinctive in certain situations. It just seemed like he was faster to the line of scrimmage and BOOM, he delivered some big time hits. He always kept his feet going; the coaches always told me to watch Keithís feet, watch his feet; he never crosses over, heís always shuffling. He was always great in coverage and he made a lot of plays on passing downs, and thatís something I have to work on. I have to be more disciplined in passing situations and know where I have to be within the defense.

CS: Losing Keith Rivers on defense is a huge loss, but one thing that may be hard to replace is his leadership qualities. Rivers was a vocal leader on defense and with his loss, the team will most likely look towards you to step up. Is that something you are looking to improve on, being more vocal?

Maualuga: Keith Rivers and Thomas Williams really taught me a lot last year. I wasnít a vocal leader last year; I didnít talk too much, because I left that to Keith and Thomas. This year thatís what I want to do, go out on the field, call the plays, and at the same time, make sure my teammates can hear me; feel my presence out on the field. I want to be that person to get on somebody if theyíre not running full speed to the football. I want to be a different person than what I was last year, as far as being more vocal.

CS: How big of a transition will it be for you to step up as a vocal leader this year, especially since youíre not a vocal guy?

Maualuga: It will be a transition, but I just have to get comfortable with the team and my surroundings and develop the vocal aspects of my game and where it will be needed. I might as well get started with this interviewÖ [Laughs].

Maualuga looks to improve his instincts this season and have more plays like this interception that occurred during last yearís Rose Bowl.
Jeff Gross/Getty

CS: [Laughs]Ö Why not, right? Talk to me about your team. On defense, you lost a lot of key starters and leadership in players like Rivers, Sedrick Ellis, Lawrence Jackson and Terrell Thomas. How do you guys make up for those losses?

Maualuga: I give major props to everybody who left, but weíre going to be good this year. They did a great job for us last year, but I think guys like myself, Fili Moala, Kyle Moore, Taylor Mays and Kevin Ellison will step up; everybody here is a year older and that will help. Weíre all looking forward to this season, and weíre out to do something great this year.

CS: What are your personal expectations for this season?

Maualuga: Man, I didnít come back this year to do the same stuff I did last year; I want to improve day-by-day in practice and get better in each game. I want to improve on what I did last year and be even more productive.

CS: Is there something specific that you want to improve on, or is it your overall game that you want to continue to elevate?

Maualuga: I want to improve my overall game. I want to become more instinctive. Instead of reacting to plays and just running to the football, I want to know whatís coming at me before the ball is snapped, so I can attack the opposition harder and make more plays behind the line of scrimmage. I just want to become a smarter football player.

CS: Itís early and weíre only in June, but you guys have been working out together for about a month now, and you know what your teammates are capable of. In addition to being young on defense, you guys are also young on offense. With that said, how do you foresee this season unfolding for USC?

Maualuga: Even though weíre young, we have a lot of heart. I see determination in our offense and the young offensive linemen; I know Jeff Byers [starting OG] is going to kick it up a notch. Weíre going to go places. I can see us doing some great things this season and surprising a lot of people. I know a lot of people donít think weíre going to go as far as we have in the past, but from what Iíve seen, weíre hungry.

Everybody is determined to get to that one goal, and although we donít want to get ahead of ourselves, I want us to end up in Miami to play for a National Championship. We all talk about going to Miami in January and that just pumps us up. It allows us to fight through things when we get tired during workouts, or to finish that last rep lifting, because thatís our focus, and thatís where we want to be.

DaKCMan AP
06-14-2008, 05:03 AM
so

Tribal Warfare
06-14-2008, 05:27 AM
so

some here have a major mancrush on him, which is why I posted this

KCrockaholic
06-14-2008, 05:46 AM
hes an intense player, ...no man crush yet. but next year around this time might be a different story, idk?

the Talking Can
06-14-2008, 06:03 AM
want him, i do....

Skip Towne
06-14-2008, 06:09 AM
Mecca should be along shortly.

CoMoChief
06-14-2008, 10:57 AM
Lauranitis > Maualuga

milkman
06-14-2008, 11:29 AM
Lauranitis > Maualuga

Except that Maualuga is playing in the cover 2 at SC, and has better coverage skills.

In the end, either would be an outstanding pick, as would Brandon Spikes.

Sam Hall
06-14-2008, 01:57 PM
In no particular order:

Rey Maualuga
James Laurinitis
Matthew Stafford
Michael Oher

Pablo
06-14-2008, 01:59 PM
In no particular order:

Rey Maualuga
James Laurinitis
Michael OherThat list looks a whole lot better now.

beach tribe
06-14-2008, 04:43 PM
I haven't really checked him out. Would he be a good fit for cover 2?

Has he ran the 40?

milkman
06-14-2008, 04:50 PM
I haven't really checked him out. Would he be a good fit for cover 2?

Has he ran the 40?

He plays in a cover 2.

beach tribe
06-14-2008, 05:01 PM
He plays in a cover 2.

Thanks.

It would be great if we had a dominant mike. With Dorsey at DT, and Morgan becomes what I think he will be, we may be a DE away from something special if we landed this guy.

beach tribe
06-14-2008, 05:05 PM
Do we have any extra picks next year? I know we're gonna get some compensatory picks, but I hope we load up like we did this year.

ChiefsCountry
06-14-2008, 06:04 PM
Lauranitis > Maualuga

No he is not, at least not for the Chiefs.

Tribal Warfare
06-14-2008, 06:05 PM
, we may be a DE away from something special if we landed this guy.



or we may have that DE in Brian "Jared Allen II" Johnston

milkman
06-14-2008, 06:21 PM
Do we have any extra picks next year? I know we're gonna get some compensatory picks, but I hope we load up like we did this year.

We might have an extra late round pick next, but I can't remember with any certainty.

My hope is that as camp progresses and a couple of young guys begin to assert themselves that we can trade off a couple of the vets, like Ron Edwards and Damion McIntosh for picks.

beach tribe
06-14-2008, 06:24 PM
We might have an extra late round pick next, but I can't remember with any certainty.

My hope is that as camp progresses and a couple of young guys begin to assert themselves that we can trade off a couple of the vets, like Ron Edwards and Damion McIntosh for picks.

That would be the logical thing to do. Let's hope there's some logic somewhere in the FO.

beach tribe
06-14-2008, 06:28 PM
I know you hate MacIntosh MM, but would he not be a decent backup LT if someone else establishes themselves on the right.

I doubt we could get more than a 7th for him.

What does is contract look like.....nevermind, I'll check it out.

milkman
06-14-2008, 06:35 PM
I know you hate MacIntosh MM, but would he not be a decent backup LT if someone else establishes themselves on the right.

I doubt we could get more than a 7th for him.

What does is contract look like.....nevermind, I'll check it out.

Hate is a pretty strong word.

I don't hate him, I just think it's a bad idea to try to convert him to RT, and as B/U LT he would be okay, but I think Herb Taylor can be every bit as effective as the B/U LT, and offers more versatility.

beach tribe
06-14-2008, 06:55 PM
Hate is a pretty strong word.

I don't hate him, I just think it's a bad idea to try to convert him to RT, and as B/U LT he would be okay, but I think Herb Taylor can be every bit as effective as the B/U LT, and offers more versatility.

I can agree with that. Taylor needs to be getting any available reps anyway.