Mauga is a 6-foot, 265-pound defensive end prospect who played at fullback, defensive tackle and middle linebacker for Grossmont College during the 2005 season. Mauga was recruited by Washington State, Auburn, Arizona, Florida and Oregon State, and he has offers from Arizona, Washington State and Auburn in addition to his offer from BYU.
Through the Back Door
At Helix High School, Mauga went up against three NFL caliber player every day in Bush, Smith and Watkins. He was not star struck, however. He felt that he was every bit their equal on the practice field.
"All those guys are great players, but I could hold my own against them," said Mauga. "I chased down Reggie during practice, sure. I put him on his backside a few times too. We had a great team."
Things were shaping up for Mauga to be as highly recruited as some of his teammates, but a knee injury changed his plans.
"Everything was going great and then it's all over", said Mauga, "I mean, what could I do? I blew out my knee and just had to watch all those guys go on and play while I was stuck with a bum knee."
Following his senior season, Mauga took a full year off to rehab his knee to the point where he could play football again.
"It was tough", said Mauga, "You never really know if you're going to have the chance to play even if you get healthy again, but I love football; I love playing, so I worked to get back to where I could play football again."
Mauga joined his brothers Dallas and Rainbow Mauga at Grossmont where he was moved around frequently given his athleticism. "I can do a lot of things on the football field," said Mauga. "I wasn't able to win any awards because I played three different positions, but I was the best defender on the team. Everyone knew that and that's why I got so many schools talking to me after my first year I guess."
A Call from BYU
Less than three weeks ago, Mauga received a message from his head coach telling to call BYU coaches. The Cougars were interested in him and wanted to talk to him about a scholarship offer.
"I didn't know much of anything about BYU at the time", said Mauga, "I knew that Todd [Watkins] went there and liked it a lot. My cousin Vic [So'oto] was up there playing ball too. I was interested because of that, but I really didn't know much about BYU at all."
Mauga's BYU contact was assistant head coach Lance Reynolds. Mauga noticed that Coach Reynolds was unique among recruiters.
"He's a great guy," said Mauga. "Very soft-spoken and very honest with you. I know what college coaches are like since my brothers went through the recruiting process and all that, but Coach Reynolds is different. He doesn't throw things in your face and tell you a bunch of great stuff that isn't true. He tells it like it is and I respect that."
After talking with Coach Reynolds, Mauga decided to take an official trip to BYU. While BYU and Provo were unlike any environment he had ever seen before, Mauga immediately felt at home, making the decision to commit all the more easy.
"Provo and BYU are just clean places," said Mauga. "It's just really clean up there; that's the best way I could describe it. The environment, the mountains, you just have a clean feeling while you're up there. It's peaceful and it's the sort of place where you can just keep your doors unlocked, which isn't at all like where I grew up or what I'm used to."
On his trip, Mauga bonded with So'oto, Russell Tialavea, Sete Aulai and Terrance Hooks. "They weren't sizing me up or anything," said Mauga. "All the players I met were so friendly, almost like family. They just made me feel real comfortable and they're the sort of guys I'm really excited to start playing with."
Mauga also felt at ease with the Cougar coaching staff. He learned that Coach Reynolds is not the only BYU coach who tells it like it is.
"Coach Mendenhall is a lot like Coach Reynolds," said Mauga. "He didn't promise me anything. Didn't tell me I would start or stuff like other coaches do. He just told me how it was. He was just straight-up. He told me that I'd better be ready to work because I'd have to work hard to prove myself in his program and to become the player that could start, and I liked that. I like a coach that challenges you, tells you what is up and doesn't promise you anything, but does promise that if you work hard that you'll succeed. I like that. I like it because it's real."
Unlike fellow JC transfer Levi Mack, Mauga will not be enroll at BYU in January. He will graduate in May with three years to play two. Hhe wants to come in an immediately compete for one of the defensive end spot, so he does not plan on using his extra year of eligibility.
Mauga is not LDS, but found the LDS environment very attractive on his visit.
"Being from San Diego you're just one step away from the hood, know what I'm saying," Mauga explained, "but at BYU it's a very spiritual place without a lot of distractions, and I like that. It's the place I need to be and the place where I can best improve on all aspects of my life."