T.J. Mauga to sign with Fresno State
A coaching change can also alter the fate of a high school football player.
After garnering interest from Nevada last fall until Brian Polian left, Fresno State’s new coaching regime swooped in early January to convince Fallon senior T.J. Mauga that he belongs with the Bulldogs. For the all-state defensive end, it just felt right to call Fresno his new home in the fall.
“I already knew that this was the place. I had that feeling (on the first night),” Mauga said. “It really felt like home. I’m not going to lie. The coaches were really nice to me. Knowing that coach (Jeff) Tedford and the success he has had kind of helped, too. Overall, I felt great about it. The education is there and it’s closer to home for my parents, which is a plus, too.”
Mauga will be signing his letter of intent today at 3:15 p.m. at the main lobby of the Elmo Derrico Gymnasium.
Mauga was receiving interest from Nevada, Louisville, Colorado State and Hawaii recently. He took a trip to Hawaii and was leaning toward joining the Warriors until Fresno State entered the picture.
“I haven’t talked to Hawaii since last summer and then lost connection to them until earlier (January),” Mauga said. “I called them up this month and they said they still had a spot open for me.”
Mauga becomes the first Division I football scholarship winner since his older brother, Josh, signed with Nevada in 2005. He played four years with the Wolf Pack and is now a linebacker with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Fallon coach Brooke Hill said the coaching change at Fresno State played into Mauga’s favor, especially the defensive line coach, Tony Tuioti.
“There’s a domino effect where things can change,” Hill said. “With T.J., there were some good offers out there and he wasn’t ready to take anything. There was a strong connection with this defensive line coach and it’s closer to home.”
Mauga’s relieved the pressure of finding the right fit is now gone. He plans on finishing his Greenwave career this spring with shotput and discus.
“It’s a major relief. I feel like it took a huge weight off my back,” he added. “After I committed, I was happy and excited to be done with the recruiting process. Now, I can focus on getting ready for the season. I’m still going to do track. I’ve got my brother’s discus record to chase after.”