Clay de Leon's Pre-Rose Bowl Conversation with Tiny Malu
Tiny – the irony of the nickname. Alatini Malu stands 6'4" weighs in at 330-340 lbs and is a force on the line of scrimmage. This man has a ferocious presence on the offensive line and will throw down anyone in his path. Yet, the name ‘Tiny' fits – Tiny is soft-spoken and gentle, a perfect gentleman.
When speaking to Malu, one is reminded of a Polynesian version of Merlin Olsen, the gentle giant of the Los Angeles Rams "Fearsome Foursome." Though a fierce competitor on the line of scrimmage, Malu is pleasant and easy-going in nature.
Malu spent a year at Long Beach City College in 2003 then transferred to USC in the spring of 2004. He red-shirted his sophomore year after undergoing an appendectomy in the fall and promptly broke a finger early in the season. He played backup offensive guard in 2005, and figured more prominently in the 2006 and 2007 football seasons. Malu mostly played guard this year, but points out that the coaches like players to be versatile enough to play any position on the line.
Malu is one of only two married Trojans on the football team (the other is walk-on fullback, Adam Goodman). Malu married his wife, Alisia Fu'e this past summer. Malu has his hands full, with a wife, football and a class schedule to juggle. He says his wife is a help with both his studies and football, helping him to keep on top of things.
SCPlaybook asked Malu about his experience with the football team and what may be ahead for him in the near future.
Asked how many years of college football he played, Malu replied, "It's actually my 5TH Year, but I played one year at a JC, and transferred in, I played four years here. I red-shirted my sophomore season."
We asked Malu the significance of this year's Rose Bowl, he said, "My last game, my last chance to wear my uniform, my last chance to ‘be with my boys,' so to me, I just have to enjoy it and make the most of it."
He continued, "I've been in four bowls, the first one was the Orange Bowl."
What was his favorite bowl experience? "They were all pretty fun, I think this one I'm enjoying a lot, just because it's my last one. I spend time with my boys, but the first one, against Oklahoma and just being in Miami."
We asked Malu if any opponent was particularly memorable and he said, "Oregon was pretty good, pretty loud stadium."
On playing on a winning team, Malu said, "It feels good to come from a JC (Long Beach City College) that went 2-8, and being here, it was good to ‘flip it around' and feel what the ‘other side of the coin is' and how they live."
We asked Malu what lies ahead for him after the season, he answered, "After the Rose Bowl, just see what happens with the NFL and next level and just graduate school. I'm applying for graduate school, I'm just keeping all my bases covered."
Finally we inquired about the Lawry's Beef Bowl: Who ate the most steaks? "I only had one, I don't know who ate the most, I'm not quite sure. We responded, "Coach Carroll had you for about 4-5 steaks, to which he replied with a grin, "Yeah, I don't know where that comes from."