Everybody calls Nebraska’s newest commit for the 2020 recruiting class “Va.” And if Eteva Mauga-Clements turns out to be the player at NU that he was at Diablo Valley (California) College, it’s a name that should catch on quickly with Husker fans.
Mauga-Clements committed to the Huskers on Wednesday.
The Bay 6 Conference defensive player of the year, finished the 2019 season with seven sacks and 23 tackles for loss. He was unrated by major recruiting services and there are only a few minutes of online highlight film. He’s been in the United States for just three years after a childhood spent in American Samoa and he’s put on roughly 50 pounds since he arrived, going from safety to linebacker.
There are under-the-radar prospects in this business. Mauga-Clements was darn near off of it, even as he hoped he’d play in the Big Ten because it was one of two football conferences — along with the SEC — that he watched most.
“The Big Ten is a prestigious conference,” Mauga-Clements said.
Before NU offered, San Diego State was Mauga-Clements’ only other major opportunity, even though Diablo Valley coach Mike Darr had sent his sophomore list — Mauga-Clements is on it — to every major FBS program. Mauga-Clements was actually committed to San Diego State, according to his father, but decommitted to become a Husker. He called Scott Frost from the Diablo Valley weight room Tuesday night to give him the news.
Mauga-Clements came with Darr’s strongest recommendation, too. In more than two decades of coaching, Darr said, he’s never coached a better kid — or a better story.
“He’s the American Samoan version of Captain America,” Darr said.
Mauga-Clements arrived in California — reuniting with his father, a local high school defensive coordinator — with a dream to play college football after his senior year of high school. He doesn’t eat until his stepsisters do first. He worked nights at a Taco Bell for money and, while riding his bike home after midnight, thwarted a robbery in progress.
“He’s an amazing kid,” Darr said.
Mauga-Clements is also fast, Darr said. Naturally fast. He arrived at Diablo Valley as a 5-foot-11, 165-pound safety, redshirting his first year. Over the next two seasons, Mauga-Clements added mass, Darr said, without losing speed. He moved from safety to inside linebacker.
“You turn on his film and you can see the burst, the speed,” Darr said of Mauga-Clements, who’d have two years to play two seasons. “He’s just scratching the surface of his ability at linebacker.”
Mauga-Clements said his aggression is a key strength.
“I’m good at hitting people,” Mauga-Clements said. “Yep. That’s what’s I’m good at. I think I’m good at making reads but I can still get better there. And I get along with all of my teammates.”
These are the players who built Nebraska football.
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