Friday, March 6, 2015

Maualuga Re-Signs with Bengals

Posted By on Fri, Mar 6, 2015 at 8:22 AM

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Former Eureka Logger Rey Maualuga just inked a three-year contract extension with the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Bengals drafted Maualuga in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft and have watched him develop into a defensive cornerstone for the team, despite his being slowed by knee and hamstring injuries the last two years. Coach Marvin Lewis described Maualuga as a “physical force” and a “great teammate” in a press release announcing the contract extension, and Defensive Coordinator Paul Guenther raved about him to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

“He’s a premier run-stopping linebacker in this league and I don’t think he gets enough credit,” Guenther told the paper. “His athletic ability and leadership has helped us out a lot.”

Maualuga graduated from Eureka High School in 2004, after leading the Loggers to a 20-2-1 record in his junior and senior seasons, which included a North Coast Section championship. Born in Oklahoma and raised in Hawaii, Maualuga moved with his parents — Talatonu and Tina — to Oxnard when he was in sixth grade. After his freshman year of high school in Ventura, Maualuga’s family again moved, this time to Eureka, so Talatonu could practice his Pentecostal ministry.

After bringing national attention to Eureka High School, Maualuga attended University of Southern California, where he earned All American honors and won the 2008 Chuck Bednarik Award, given annually to the nation’s best defensive player.

Maualuga’s pro career got off to a bumpy start, both on and off the field. A dislocated elbow derailed an already unimpressive rookie season, in which Maualuga looked a step slow and struggled to adjust to the pro game. And on Jan. 29, 2010, he was arrested in Kentucky for drunk and careless driving after crashing into some parked cars, reportedly with a blood alcohol level twice the legal limit. (He ultimately pleaded guilty to DUI and was given two years’ probation. He apologized for "terrible mistake," and for being "such a great humiliation and embarrassment to the team.")

But Maualuga has stayed out of trouble since, and his play has steadily improved. As one ESPN story notes, opposing running backs averaged just 3.6 yards per carry against the Bengals last year when Maualuga was on the field and 4.9 when he was not. Clearly, he made an impact. In his five-year career, he's recorded 482 tackles, four sacks, six forced fumbles and five interceptions.

Maualuga still has family in Humboldt, and the long-haired, tattoo-covered 28-year-old has been spotted out and about locally in recent weeks visiting with friends. The terms of his new contract haven’t been disclosed, but Maualuga made $2.25 million in 2014, the last year of two-year extension signed in 2012.
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Thadeus Greenson

Thadeus Greenson is the news editor of the North Coast Journal.

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