Mauga continues to shine for Wolf Pack | NevadaAppeal.com

Mauga continues to shine for Wolf Pack

THOMAS RANSON
Nevada Appeal News Service

Josh Mauga continues to make vast improvement during his second year with the Nevada Wolf Pack football team.

Coming off a WAC championship and Hawaii bowl win last year, the 19-year-old sophomore feels more confident this season.

“My first season was pretty much a learning season for me,” Mauga, an outside linebacker at the time, said.

“I had to adjust to the speed and tempo of the game compared to high school and learn a whole new defensive scheme. It was kind of rough at times, but in the end it was also a fun and exciting one too.”

Mauga enjoyed beating in-state rival UNLV to win back the Fremont Cannon.

He also played on Nevada’s first winning team since 1998 when it finished 6-5. The 2005 squad ended the season 9-3.

“I got to be part of winning the cannon back, a winning team, a championship team, and also winning a bowl championship,” Mauga said.

Putting in many hours of weight training in the offseason is paying dividends for Mauga, who checks in at 6-foot-4, 245 pounds.

“During the offseason I lifted and conditioned with the team four days a week for about three hours a day,” Mauga said.

After starting a majority of games last season at outside linebacker, Nevada coach Chris Ault moved the 2005 Fallon grad to inside linebacker.

“You don’t go from outside linebacker to inside linebacker and all of the sudden the world’s all sunshine,” Ault said. “To make that transition takes a real dedicated athlete and somebody that has good instincts of football. Josh has that.”

Ault said he is impressed how Mauga is able to adjust to inside linebacker at a young age.

“It’s rare at this young age,” Ault said. “You do it before but the guys are a little bit older. A guy that was a true freshman to do it is a real nice accomplishment for Josh.”

With the Wolf Pack’s games against Fresno State, Arizona State and Colorado State, Ault said Mauga showed improvement.

“He gets better every game, and I think he feels comfortable every game,” Ault said. “He’s still learning, and he’ still making mistakes but he’s got the physical ability to make up for his mistakes.”

During his senior year in high school, Mauga faced difficult decisions where to continue his football career. Mauga knows he made the right choice coming to Nevada and playing in front of his family.

“The family support has been awesome,” he said. “Choosing to stay home and go to school here at UNR has kept me close to my family.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better school to go to. It’s just a great feeling knowing that my family is just an hour away and is always at my games.”

Nevada’s rich history also persuaded Mauga to play for the Wolf Pack.

“The part I like about UNR football is that there is a lot history behind the team and a lot of great players who have played here too,” Mauga said. “It’s just an honor to be a part of such a great tradition.”

With a year of college under his belt, Mauga is enjoying his fall semester more than his freshman year.

“Classes this year are going good,” the business major said. “I’m really enjoying the classes I have this semester rather than my freshman year.”

Fans can see Mauga and the rest of the Wolf Pack take on New Mexico State at 1 p.m. Saturday at Mackay Stadium.