By: Galen Kusic
Senior Hornet defensive lineman Dallas Mauga lets his play on the field do the talking for him.
"When he says something, everybody listens," said Ryan Coogler, senior wide receiver. "He leads so well because he doesn't talk a lot, but when he does, it has meaning to it."
The calm, mild-mannered, 6-foot-1-inch, 290 pound Mauga is a beast between the sidelines. In six games this year, Mauga has 22 tackles (4.5 for a loss) a sack and a pass breakup. However, those stats don't do justice to the intangibles Mauga brings to the table on and off the field.
"Dallas leads by example," sophomore defensive lineman Bill Sherman said. "He does things right all the time. He never slacks off - he is a positive for this team and a great leader."
He disrupts every offense the Hornets face, causing problems by clogging the middle and putting constant pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
"Dallas is the strongest guy I know," senior defensive lineman Blaine Jackson said.
In high school, Mauga was heavily recruited by big-name schools like Arizona, Hawaii, Boise State and Oregon State. Mauga chose San Diego State, but found out his grades weren't good enough. He red-shirted, but during that year there was a coaching change and his scholarship was not reinstated. From there, he attended Grossmont Junior College where he was an All-American and considered to be one of the top 30 defensive line recruits in the country.
It was in his red-shirt year that Mauga said he found God and became a devout Christian. He went through some rough times growing up in San Diego and realized he had to change to be successful in life. Now he leads the team in prayer before every game and meal.
"I just didn't have my mind right," Mauga said. "I was a knucklehead before I found Christ. I was out there wildin' out, I thank God he gave me a second chance to be here. It didn't matter where I was, I was just happy to be playing football."
Mauga came to Sac State after taking a year off football. He was worried that after a break in playing, he would be sloppy and didn't know if it would work out. His brother was at Sac State and got him to come out for spring ball.
From then on, Mauga has been a defensive force for the Hornets. Last year, he had 40 tackles in 10 games with three sacks - good enough to earn him second team All-Big Sky honors.
"He's been a big help to me," Sherman said. "I'm his backup, and he always tells me adjustments and lets me know what the opponent is doing."
Mauga anchors a strong defensive line that has earned respect this year by shutting down strong offensive teams in Northern Arizona and Montana.
"To be honest, when I became a Christian and I was no longer playing, I knew when I did start playing again I wanted to play in the name of Jesus," Mauga said. "I just wanted to lift up God and glorify Him. Not just for my teammates and my family, but for God."
Mauga said his parents have inspired him the most in his life, aside from God. Growing up, his parents kept him and all his brothers in Pop Warner, a nationwide youth football and cheerleading organization, to stay out of trouble.
"I just kept playing," Mauga said. "Now at this stage, football takes a toll on your body and takes a lot of time. To add on, school makes some days very busy."
The intensity Mauga plays with is evident. He has a strong effect on every player on the team.
"Every time you need a word, whether it's advice or quoting scripture, he'll definitely cheer you up," said senior defensive lineman James Henderson. "The entire team looks to him in pressure situations; he lets you know it's going to be alright."
Coogler talked about how he and Mauga have similar religious beliefs and both have brothers, which made it easy to relate to one another immediately.
"The best thing about Dallas is he makes you want to be a better person. He's a generous dude - I can't say enough good things about him," Coogler said.
After last week's tough loss at home, Montana head coach Bobby Hauck said the Hornet defensive line is the toughest they've faced all season. That is a large testament to Mauga and a group that is dedicated to getting the job done.
"We have a great coaching staff," Mauga said. "They have taught us things we haven't learned in the past, and they get us ready for our opponent every week."
Mauga's goals are to keep fighting on the field and said even though the Hornets aren't known for winning, he has full confidence the team can win on any day.
"Everyone on the d-line looks up to him," Henderson said. "We play hard for the win, and we play hard for him."
Mauga, a communications studies major, continues to keep pushing in the classroom as well but is still unsure about what he wants to do after Sac State.
"After this, I leave it up to the Lord," Mauga said. "If I make it to the next level, I make it. If not, bless the Lord. I'm just happy to be playing football at Sac State."