CORONA, Calif. -- Looking out over the pristine turf field at Corona (Calif.) Centennial just prior to the team’s recent “College Showcase” -- an amped-up version of spring practice that attracted more than 30 coaches from some of the top football programs in the country – it was easy to notice Austin Maloata staring with a sense of wonder.
Having moved to the mainland in March from American Samoa, the Class of 2014 defensive end has undergone a meteoric rise from complete unknown to highly publicized USC pledge. And now, everything – even the artificial playing surface in front of him – can be a lot to take in at times.
“Back in Samoa, we don’t have turf or any of this stuff,” said Maloata, who prepped at Leone High School in Pago Pago prior to his arrival in Southern California. “We play on rocks. There’s practices where you get tackled, and you get up and your knee is all bloody. So coming here to Centennial and feeling the turf here, it was shocking. Kids over here, they have all of the sleds, they have all the bags, they have turf … they have everything. In Samoa, we use the actual players themselves as tackling dummies.”