Oceanside Linebacker Interested In BYU

Oceanside High School has a history of being a successful program and placing athletes into D-1 schools all across the country. In fact, BYU has an Oceanside player on their roster by the name of Russell Tialavea. Could the Cougars be in the mix for another?

With a current record of 152-60-5 in an 18 year coaching career, Oceanside head coach John Carroll led his team to a 7th overall ranking in the state of California last season. Manning the middle linebacker's spot for the second year in a row is 6-0, 215-220 pound Zeke Mauga, who was instrumental in helping Oceanside's defense (173 yards a game) to a number two ranking as a sophomore prior to a shoulder injury.

"Right now I'm 6-0 and I weight between 215 and 220," said Mauga. "I run the forty in 4.6 and I'm not sure what my shuttle is because we haven't run that. The last time I measured my vertical I think it was around 30 inches or somewhere around there. My bench max is around 250 but the last time I squatted was my sophomore year because I had hurt my shoulder. So I couldn't really reach back and hold the weight, but before that I was squatting 405."

Mauga played not only linebacker, but rotated in when needed as a fullback for the Pirates. As a linebacker, Mauga patterns his style as an aggressive, hard hitting run-stopper.

"I like to think of myself as a really aggressive linebacker in the running game," Mauga said. "I like to hit a lot. I try to build up my speed to where I'm running really fast to try and make the hit, but sometimes it can be a disadvantage for me if it's a play action but I like to use my speed to hit. In my passing game whenever there is a play action pass, I'm usually fast enough to be able to recover. I also like to blitz a lot. I'm really good at timing the play and offensive linemen hate me for it."

Mauga also talked about getting a little time playing at the fullback position.

"I like playing fullback a lot but right now I think we have a better fullback," Mauga humbly said. "I've been mainly focusing on defense but I do like playing fullback; its pretty fun."

In a twist of irony, Mauga likes carrying the ball simply because it allows him the chance to punish those who play his linebacker position on defense.

"Yeah, I like to hit those guys," Mauga said. "Growing up, I'm the second-youngest in my family, so I used to run around with my brothers and older cousins and got good at being able to run away. Growing up with guys that were 15 to 17 and you're only 10 years old made things interesting. I think being able to get away from them helped me and I just got good at running, so I enjoy playing fullback and being able to run from guys trying to get me."

Mauga might have played as a freshman if it weren't for an ankle injury that took him out of the equation.

"I played varsity as a sophomore and got pretty lucky because I didn't get a chance to play my freshman year," Mauga said. "I had an ankle injury and ended up having to have surgery and that took away my whole year. So after that I just worked hard over the summer to improve and I guess I got really lucky to play varsity during my sophomore year."

Being a sophomore playing among older football players was a difficult challenge physically for Mauga.

"Oh it was tough," Mauga said. "I was one of the smallest guys but I had a friend on the team who was competing against me for the same position. Me and him were the smallest two there and it was kind of hard staying strong and trying not to be manhandled out there."

However, because he was smaller than those he oftentimes faced, Mauga worked hard to improve his physical prowess so he could be the one dishing out the punishment rather than taking it.

"It was a growing experience," said Mauga. "Just because you're at a disadvantage doesn't mean you should give up, and you should never stop playing hard. There will always be guys bigger than you and you should just get used to it and try even harder."

Mauga didn't exactly know what his offensive and defensive stats were as a junior, but he feels he could have had an even better year if an old injury he suffered as a sophomore hadn't resurfaced.

"I tried my best but I kept getting hurt," Mauga said. "I had dislocated my shoulder during my sophomore year, and I had surgery on it to repair it but it didn't really work and popped out again this year. That happened around the fourth or fifth game.

"Right now I'm just rehabbing it and trying to get stronger. My parents don't like surgery and I don't like surgery so I'm thinking after my senior year I go get surgery. I'm really hoping that college coaches will think that I'm good enough that this won't hurt me in recruiting. I'm hoping they will see that I'm good enough and that they can help me fix my shoulder so I can be really good contributor to their team.

"Right now I'm getting letters but mostly from smaller schools," said Mauga. "I get letters from UCLA and BYU and I called and talked to Coach Reynolds of the BYU Cougars and he wants me to come down for a couple of camps. I'm really looking forward to that. Coach Reynolds sent me a handwritten letter and a card, so I gave him a call and told him that I would really like to be a Cougar. I've got family that went there and a couple of friends that go there now like Russell Tialavea and Vic So'oto.

"If UCLA or BYU offered me I would take either one but I'm really looking at BYU because they're a really good school that is growing, but if that didn't pan out I would take UCLA if they offered me."

Mauga is first-cousins with former BYU linebacker Ammon Mauga and is related to the So'oto family through Vic's mother Sili, so the connection to BYU from a family standpoint is there among other things.

"Vic So'oto's mom is my dad's first cousin," Mauga said. "I think BYU would be a good place to go. I saw last year how well they did and Russell Tialavea was telling me how good the program is. He was telling me how the program is growing and I would like to be a part of that growing process. I'm also LDS so that's another reason why I would like to go to BYU. I also want to serve a mission."

Mauga is close to Wally So'oto, who is his second cousin and the younger brother of BYU tight end Vic So'oto. The two will often workout together to help each other improve their physical skills.

"Vic and Russell are pretty much best friends and since I'm really close with Vic's younger brother Wally we would just hang out with them when ever they would come around," Mauga said. "I kink of became good friends with them and like visiting them whenever I come up to Utah, and both of their families are really good friends with my family."

So what does Mauga think of his cousin Wally's on-field performance as a football player?

"He's pretty good," Mauga said. "Some people think he's fat but he's really not. He's a solid, strong guy and is really working hard on everything to make himself a better athlete. Every Saturday morning we go down to a gym and workout together."

Another LDS prospect that just transferred to Oceanside High School from Japan was David Motu. According to Mauga, Motu was Oceanside's utility player that Ocean Side High School coaches placed at various positions when needed.

"He just transferred from Japan and led our defense in league in tackles," Mauga said. "He did really good and he was the kind of player that was put wherever he was needed. He was really good and played wherever the coaches needed. He's still here and is looking around for a scholarship somewhere because he just transferred."

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