As we continue on our daily countdown towards the 2007 season, we are now at 58. There is no question who should represent this number on the countdown...USC linebacker Rey Maulaluga!!
The 6'3" 250 lbs. middle (Mike) linebacker is the unquestioned leader of a Trojan defense believed by many say to be the best in the Pete Carroll era. Maualuga is by far the most feared player in the Pac-10, just ask Patrick Cowan. Aside from his punishing big hits, he plays with so much heart and incredible passion. He makes what seems to be every tackle, plays with a mean streak and unmatched toughness, and has the ability to chase down down ball carriers from sideline to sideline. This guy is every thing you look for from a linebacker, and yet, he's still only a junior. Though he split time with last year's senior defensive captain Oscar Lua at Mike linebacker, Maualuga still managed to make a name for himself and is ready to break out into the national spotlight this year. He will be a full-time starter for the first time in his young career and has barely even scratched the surface of his potential. At times, he tends to overrun plays and is a bit too aggressive, but that can be corrected. This is a result of his competive nature and nothing more than inexperience and a desire to do too much. I believe he will learn to stick to his assignment and trust his teammates to their job as well. He is a year wiser now and will be better disciplined and more knowledgeable of his position, assignments, role on the defense, and how each defensive player complements each other. I can't wait to see this guy unleashed against opposing offenses.
Here's to the 2007 Butkus Award winner...