Kana’i Mauga was a bustle player with the USC football program. Although he didn’t step forward for the team in his final year as a Trojan, he remained a fan favorite due to his physical and hustle-oriented style of play. who has proven he has the work ethic to succeed at the next level. .
Sure enough, he ended up getting picked up like a undrafted free agent for the Denver Broncos. He looks likely to step into the backup inside linebacker role, but SC fans remember when he was drafted to Hawaii as an outside linebacker. He has the skills that would allow him to play anywhere.
That potential versatility will help him as he tries to gain playing time this offseason on the NFL’s No. 3 ranked defense (18.9 points allowed per game). They play a tough-nosed brand of football in Denver, and Mauga can handle it.
He was known at SC for making hustle plays and never slowing down despite everyone around him apparently doing so. It’s worth remembering that his head coach at SC every year (except his last 10 games) didn’t even let players tackle training as much as standard training practice was. Across the country.
By the way, Kana’i Mauga didn’t put up bad numbers for the USC football program at all. In the last two seasons, he played every game (18 games) and he was in. He had 132 tackles and 8.5 tackles for loss. He had a few picks, a few sacks, a few PDs, and he also forced a fumble.
He even started at certain points in the 2019 season as well. In his first college start of 2019, he had 13 tackles (two for loss), one sack, one forced fumble and one interception. Mauga thrives under pressure, and Denver will like that.
In a 2020 Pac-12 Conference Championship game, Mauga caught 14 tackles and had one interception and one return for 34 yards. A high-caliber player, he has proven he has great intangibles and is mentally strong at SC.
It’s what NFL coaches love, so don’t sleep on his chances of playing professional football this season and for years to come. Mauga was always ready to break through a wall for his teammates at SC and will likely make the same effort in the League. Whether on defense or special teams, don’t be surprised if he finds and keeps a spot with Denver.