Oscar Lua came to USC hoping to be a two sport star, playing MLB for the football team, and first base for the baseball team. After serving as a special teamer as a freshman in 2002, he tore his ACL in bowl preparations. That cost him the baseball season, and in trying to rush back for the following football season, he tore the ACL in his other knee. That caused him to hang up the baseball cleats, and redshirt the 2003 football season. In his first season back, Lofa Tatupu emerged as a star, and Lua was again stuck in a reserve role. As a junior in 2005, Lua finally got the opportunity to play, and he shined as the leader of the defense. He led the team in tackles with 66 in 12 games, missing one with a sprained knee. As a senior, he was beaten out by super soph Rey Maualuga, and ended up with just 31 tackles, two for loss on the season.
Lua is built very well, and is extremely strong. He is the classic run stuffing middle linebacker. He reads the run quickly and attacks the line of scrimmage between the tackles. Once he gets his hands on the ball carrier, the runner rarely escapes his grasp. Lua is one of the hardest workers in the Trojan program, and is very intelligent on the field.
The knee injuries have taken some speed and athleticism away from Lua, and he wasn’t exactly a freak to begin with. That may limit his overall effectiveness at the next level. His upside may only be as a two down run stuffer. He may also turn up a bit smaller than his listed 6'1 height. Lua shows the awareness in pass coverage, but lacks the physical ability to cover ground.
Oscar Lua has the strength, toughness, and intelligence to play at the next level. Those traits should allow him to find a home as a special teamer at the very least. He’s probably best served as a backup inside linebacker that makes his real value on special teams.