Freshman All-American offensive lineman headed to UCLA after leaving Colorado
WAILUKU — Offensive lineman Kai Maiava has said he is transferring to UCLA after earning freshman All-American honors at Colorado last season.
‘‘It’s close to my brother (Kaluka Maiava, a rising senior linebacker at Southern California) and my family,’’ said Maiava, a 2007 Baldwin High School graduate who was released from his scholarship at Colorado last month.
Kai Maiava said he was excited about the prospect of working with UCLA offensive coordinator Norm Chow, a Punahou School graduate who joined the Bruins staff this offseason, after Rick Neuheisel was hired as the head coach.
‘‘Norm Chow is a great coach of everything,’’ Kai Maiava said. ‘‘He’s probably one of the best coordinators in the nation.’’
Maiava was named a freshman All-American by scout.com last season after starting the Buffaloes’ last nine games. Colorado’s statistics credited him with 74 ‘‘knockdown blocks,’’ the second-best total on the team.
Maiava, listed as 6 feet, 1/2 inches and 295 pounds last year, said a possible position change to fullback at Colorado, as well as distance from family, prompted him to change schools.
‘‘It seems like a new experience,’’ he said. ‘‘I think I’ll have a lot better time out here. It’s all about my family and stuff. I know they can come to a lot of the games.’’
The Maiava brothers will not face each other next season — NCAA rules require Kai Maiava to sit out a season because he is transferring.
The Bruins and Trojans are to meet in the Rose Bowl on Dec. 6.
Maiava said that after deciding he would leave Colorado, he had heard from San Diego State, Arizona and Hawaii.
‘‘It was kind of cool,’’ he said. ‘‘From high school, I wasn’t really highly recruited.’’
All of Maiava’s starts in 2007 were at left guard.
The Bruins’ tentative 2008 depth chart lists Darius Savage, who has two seasons of eligibility remaining, as the starter at left guard. Savage, who also throws the discus for the UCLA track team, saw time on special teams last season for the Bruins football team.
Redshirt sophomore Sonny Tevaga is listed as the backup at left guard, and senior Aaron Meyer as the third-stringer.