Call it persistent. Call it relentless. Heck, call it flattering. Whatever term you want to use to describe the attention Nebraska has shown Eureka, California linebacker, Rey Maualuga, it all equals one obvious conclusion.
They want him...........badly.
Bad enough that out of all the major schools recruiting him including the commonly favored Trojans and Sooners, nobody even comes close to putting more mail in his box than the Huskers. "It's everyday." Rey said. "I mean, the letters come every single day, but I get like three Fed Ex packages a week from them stuffed with hand-written letters."
"When I get one, I think it's another offer, but it's another bunch of hand-written letters from Nebraska."
Some recruits might find this overwhelming amount of attention a bit much, even a little overkill. Not Maualuga, because when you are getting as much attention as this young man, it takes a lot to stand out. "It's impressive." he said of the attention from Nebraska. "There's a lot of schools out there that let me know how much they want me there, but what Nebraska is doing, you just can't even fake that kind of dedication. When they could call they did. When they could visit, they did and now all these letters. It's pretty unbelievable."
The relationship he has developed with Nebraska over this time, especially with the coach recruiting him, offensive line coach, Dennis Wagner, that's a big reason for why Maualuga plans on visiting NU in September. It's actually going to be his first official visit, right before his final season of prep-ball begins.
As to the other official visits, the Trojans won't get one simply because they are so close, but you can bank on one for the Sooners. Added to NU and OU, you can probably throw in official visits to LSU and Notre Dame. And the fifth? "I don't know." Rey said. "Everything is just pretty early right now and I'm just trying to get it all figured out."
There's another interesting dynamic to Rey's recruiting, one that is common only amongst the most recruited athletes in the country. It's when you get so many of the same messages from so many coaches, that the messages themselves become irrelevant. They all start sounding the same. "Yeah, that's kind of what I am used to hearing." Rey said of the sales pitches from most schools recruiting him. "They say that I can start my first year, they really want me and just a lot of the same stuff others are saying to me."
Point of fact, an opportunity to play early is a major factor for Maualuga, but he's realistic of what he'll see at the next level, especially considering the schools he's interested in. "There's competition everywhere." he said. "I want to know that wherever I go, it's the best player that starts for that team. If I start my first year because I was the best, that's great. But, I don't want to start because someone told me I was going to start."
"I don't want someone to give me a spot. I want to earn it just like everyone else."
While you would agree that most coaches might almost out of habit just tell someone of Rey's caliber that same old line that they could play their first year. But, for this 6'2"-240 pound linebacker that tallied 146 tackles, 11 sacks and an interception as a Junior, heck, most coaches might actually believe it as well. The kid's a certified freak.
And like most athletes that are so dubbed, the message from coaches becomes almost a constant hum and players like Maualuga long only to hear the same thing, but not from those recruiting them, but those they could be playing beside one day. "That's why the officials are so important." Rey said of being able to talk to the players. "You get to see what they are like, how everyone gets along and that's the time you can get all the answers to your questions."
"It's important to be there and see it for yourself or you really don't know a thing about the place."
While Rey did say that he is fairly certain that he will indeed take all of his official visits, he couldn't say that it was an absolute right now. For him as it is with many recruits, he's playing things by feel. "That's what I am thinking right now." Rey said of taking all his visits. "But, that's a ways away, I don't know what will happen between now and then or any of that. So, it's really hard to tell."
As to a definitive leader, Maualuga said he has none, but the aforementioned teams are obviously in the mix. It isn't down to one, two or even three teams though, because Rey said that he's simply not ready to limit things that much right now. "I can't say that I am only thinking of Oklahoma and USC because that just isn't the case." he said. "Nebraska, Notre Dame, LSU and maybe some others, there's lots of time for things to change for me."
"I don't know if they will, but a lot can happen between now and then. So, I'm just taking things as they go."
What Nebraska is doing as far as their relentless recruiting of Rey Maualuga, it's been somewhat of a trend this year. The new staff at NU has shown an uncommon amount of dedication to showing an incredible number of kids just how much they want them at their school.
That's hard to say and the early odds seem to favor OU and USC, but with NU probably getting an official visit, the Huskers are definitely not out.
And if they get this California standout, it will be another, perhaps even more remarkable recruiting victory for the Huskers, beating out USC and Oklahoma amongst others for one of the best. And if they don't, they don't and Nebraska will look to another to try and take Maualuga's spot.
One thing you won't be able to say no matter how it turns out is that Nebraska didn't try.