Maualuga had a very productive true freshman season for USC in 2005. As a reserve inside linebacker, he tallied 37 tackles, 4.5 for loss, a sack and an interception. He stepped into a starting role as a sophomore, earning All Pac 10 1st team honors while posting 78 tackles, five for loss, two sacks, and an interception on the year. Maualuga became a two time honoree on the Pac 10 1st team as a junior, posting a team leading 79 tackles, 10.5 for loss, six sacks and a pick. Maualuga won the Bednarik Award as a senior, leading the Trojans with 73 tackles, 2.5 for loss, and two picks despite missing one game.
Maualuga is the type of player you fear as an offensive player. He is very strong, aggressive, and plays with a real mean streak on the field. If you are carrying the ball or are in his way of getting to the ball carrier, he will do whatever it takes to make the tackle. His size and demeanor on the field make him a force between the tackles. He isnít afraid to take on a lineman and is strong enough to fight off the block and make the tackle. What separates him from most middle linebackers is the speed and athleticism he displays on the field. Maualuga easily chases plays down from behind and can run sideline to sideline to make plays. His athleticism allows him to match up in coverage and make plays with the ball in the air. All of his experience is inside, but Maualuga has the ability to move outside and perform at a high level there if the situation calls for it.
While his aggression is mostly a positive thing on the field, it can get Maualuga into trouble at times. He plays so hard and moves so fast that he can overrun plays at times, allowing the carrier to slip by and pick up big chunks of yardage. He is so intent on reading the action that he canít wait to react, and jumps too early. He will need to be a more disciplined player to take his game to another level.
Maualuga is a part of the most talented linebacking duo in some time in college, teaming with Brian Cushing. The two are as physically gifted as any pair and will cause opposing coaches nightmares this season. Maualuga can do everything you want an inside linebacker to do and more, along with having the versatility to move outside. His all around game is going to entice some team to take him in the first round of the draft in April, barring any unforseen incidents.