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Friday, October 15, 2004



[ FOOTBALL ]


Hard work takes Maiava
to USC


Years ago, in a cavern known as the Wailuku Gym weight room, he began pushing the steel plates up and down.

"You get some rust on your hands. It's no 24-Hour Fitness deal," Baldwin coach Chad Kauha'aha'a said of standout inside linebacker Kaluka Maiava. "He's the first guy out of the locker room and heads to Wailuku with his dad.

"He even asked to be dismissed from homecoming ceremonies to go and work out."

The pushing has yet to stop for Maiava, who verbally committed to Southern California on Sunday. USC is ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN top 25 polls.

The 6-foot, 215-pound senior sent letters to several schools announcing the decision, his attention to detail never wavering. By Monday, he was back at Wailuku, working out after practice, still miffed about Baldwin's 21-14 loss to now front-running Lahainaluna.

"I'm still (upset) about the loss," Maiava said by telephone yesterday afternoon.

The Bears are 0-1 in the Maui Interscholastic League's second round. Baldwin, ranked No. 6 in the Star-Bulletin Top 10, is 3-1-2 overall, including a 14-all tie at No. 4 Kamehameha in August. Maiava was a standout in the Kamehameha game, and in the loss to Lahainaluna he amassed 21 tackles.

Maiava, who was rated No. 1 at his position at the top summer camps in the West, made a soft verbal commitment to UCLA in July and says he put much thought into switching to the Trojans.

"It was tough. I had a commitment with UCLA. My mom wanted me to get out of the islands," said Maiava, who has long been a fan of USC.

Maiava is a UH fan also, but says he drew little interest from his state school.

"When June Jones came (to UH), I was excited," said Maiava, a UH fan. "I would've thought about it, but I would've chosen USC over UH."

Maiava said he did not receive a recruiting brochure or questionnaire from UH in the past year and received just one phone call from the UH coaching staff. Meanwhile, many other schools offered him scholarships.

"I talked to (UH linebackers coach Cal) Lee once. I guess that was a courtesy call," Maiava said. Baldwin's offensive coordinator, Pohai Lee, is Cal Lee's nephew.

UH coaches are not allowed to comment on recruits until signing day.

Before Maiava's senior season, his father, Scott Mahoney, was prepared to send his son to Kahuku, where Mahoney's brother, Lefa, is an assistant coach. That all changed once Kaluka Maiava began to dominate the camps.

Maiava got excellent exposure at the mainland camps, starting with his first stop -- a Nike Camp in San Diego.

Kauha'aha'a, who played at Utah, figures it worked out for the best.

"All I can say is, I'm sure UH has their people that they look at as a fit for their program. Maybe Kaluka wasn't in the picture. He probably didn't fit into the scheme," he said. "He did get to talk to coach Lee at the beginning, and he made a good effort to keep in contact. But, other than that, that's all I heard."

Among the schools that Maiava said offered him a scholarship: Washington, Oregon, Utah, Brigham Young, Wisconsin, Colorado, Arizona and UTEP.

One of the coaches who nearly swayed Maiava was Colorado assistant Brian Cabral, who recruits heavily in the islands. Cabral -- a Saint Louis and Colorado alum who went on to play for the Chicago Bears -- was instrumental in bringing former Waimea standout Jordon Dizon to CU, where he is a starting inside linebacker as a freshman.

Colorado made Maiava's final three, along with USC and UCLA.

Scott Mahoney played at Kamehameha, then Colorado.

"When Kaluka had nothing, I hoped maybe the home team (Hawaii) would take him. We sent a tape, but they didn't contact us for five months," he said.

"Especially when Jordon started doing good, I told Brian, I'm really looking at the two of them together (at Colorado). Then USC started calling."

The Trojan staff had analyzed hours of video. Maiava graded out No. 2 among prep linebackers. The offer came shortly afterward.

Maiava's dedication in the weight room began with instruction from the best. Before he attended Baldwin, he was at Kamehameha, learning a training program from current NFL lineman Olin Kreutz.

USC's coaches have instructed him to pare down the workouts from three per week to two.

"USC said you gotta be fast more than anything. You can be the strongest guy in the world," said Maiava, who uses Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher as a model. "He doesn't talk a lot. He just makes plays," he said.

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