Long before he was a menacing 6-foot-3, 235-pound linebacker with 4.56 speed, Eurkea, Calif., linebacker Rey Maualuga once called Oklahoma his home.
Born, raised and actually named after the Fort Sill hospital where he was born (U.S. Reynolds Army Hospital), Maualuga (pronounced m-OW-ah-LUNYA), said he was weaned on Sooner football until the age of four, when his father, Tony, was transferred to Hawaii.
"That's all we watched," said Maualuga, who is of Samoan descent. "Oklahoma was always my dad's school."
Just last month, Maualuga attended the U.S. Army All-American National Combine in San Antonio, which featured the nation's top junior football prospects.
While there, he quickly became fast friends with fellow linebacker Ryan Reynolds of Las Vegas, who has already received a 2005 scholarship offer from Oklahoma.
"We talked it up a lot when we competed against each other," said Maualuga. "Everything was real close. I know he likes Oklahoma."
Last season, Maualuga recorded 146 tackles (43 for loss), 11 sacks, two fumble recoveries, one interception and four pass breakups en route to an undefeated season and a Class 3A state championship. He also saw time at fullback.
"I'm fearless," said Maualuga, who models his game after Ray Lewis. "I don't care who you are or how big you are, I'm coming after you."
He has yet to receive any formal scholarship offers, but expects to receive some within the next week or two from the likes of Florida State, Michigan, Oklahoma, UCLA, USC and Washington, all of which are sending him mail weekly.
"I'm definitely willing to go home away from home," said Maualuga, who owns a 3.1 GPA and will take the ACT for the first time in March. "Distance doesn't matter. It's all about where I feel comfortable at."
Right now, Maualuga said he doesn't have a favorite school. He said his top five —Michigan, Oklahoma, UCLA, USC and Washington— are in no particular order.
He said he plans to camp at USC and attend the Nike Combine at Stanford this summer, but isn't ruling out other potential visits.
"I'd like to get out to Oklahoma," said Maualuga. "I'd love to make that trip."
Because no one in his immediate family has a college degree, Maualuga said the right balance of academics and football will play an important role in his eventual commitment.
"I want to go to a school that provides me the best academics and learning environment," said Maualuga. "Somewhere that respects me not only as a player, but more importantly as a person."
In the meantime, Maualuga said he's interested in learning more about the Sooners.
"I love the way Oklahoma plays football," said Maualuga. "They're so aggressive."
RECRUITING: California LB has Oklahoma ties
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