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Eye on the prize

Rey Maualuga has come a long way since his freshman season. He had a rough season as a freshman in 2005; a battery arrest and the death of his father just days before the MNC game against Texas culminated in a rocky start for the linebacker from Eureka.

Rey's game has steadily improved to the point that it is very likely that he will be a top 10 pick in next years NFL draft. His incredible performance in this years Rose Bowl Game against Illinois really solidified his place among future NFL prospects and everyone thought he was going to head out to the NFL but he decided to stay for his final year at SC

He talks about that decision in an interview with Chris Steuber of Scout .com.

CS: After your performance in the Rose Bowl, everyone, including me, thought you would declare for the NFL Draft. But in the end, you decided to stay at USC for your senior season. What made you decide to stay, and did anyone influence your decision?

Maualuga: Keith Rivers played a big part in my decision, and I know he played a big part in Brian Cushing’s decision as well. Our coaches told us to go and talk to Keith and see what his thoughts were on staying in school for our senior years. Brian and I just talked to him and he told us even though it’s hard to come back to school another year, it’s worth it, and it will pay off in the long run. To see his progression and the way he got better, it obviously paid off for him to get drafted in the top-ten.

CS: What did you see Keith Rivers improve on during his senior season that stood out to you and made you believe this off-season that you still had room to improve?

Maualuga: I think he became more instinctive in certain situations. It just seemed like he was faster to the line of scrimmage and BOOM, he delivered some big time hits. He always kept his feet going; the coaches always told me to watch Keith’s feet, watch his feet; he never crosses over, he’s always shuffling. He was always great in coverage and he made a lot of plays on passing downs, and that’s something I have to work on. I have to be more disciplined in passing situations and know where I have to be within the defense.

There is no question that Maualuga staying for his senior season will pay off huge dividends provided he doesn't get hurt

There have been times where we have seen Rey play a little out of control even in this past season so this is his chance to fix all the little details of his game before he moves on. he has come a long way from that freshman season and he will go down as one of the great USC linebackers. I'm just happy he's on our side.

I will always love this hit:

Gotta give Cowan credit for even getting up...