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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Lauvao, Malamala lining up for ASU

TEMPE, Ariz. — Shawn Lauvao and Stanley Malamala grew up on different islands in Hawai'i, but they will be close together this season at Arizona State.

Lauvao and Malamala, both seniors, are expected to play critical roles as the Sun Devils attempt to re-establish their offensive efficiency in the Pacific-10 Conference.

At times, they will line up beside each other.

Lauvao, a product of the Farrington High "Factory," has been moved to left tackle this season, a position many believe is the most important on the offensive line because it protects the quarterback's blind side.

Malamala, a Lahainaluna High alum, is the principal blocking tight end, although he still has the hands of a multi-tasker, as he showed with a team-high three receptions in the spring game.

"It's cool, man," Lauvao said of his position change, his third in two seasons. He began 2008 at left guard before moving to right tackle, where coaches needed him more.

"I'm just happy the coaches trust me with that. The whole situation has been a blessing. The biggest thing is dialing in and having the right technique. You can't be lazy."

Lauvao, 6 feet 3 and 305 pounds, has made several preseason All-Pac-10 lists, and ASU coach Dennis Erickson sees a natural fit.

"He's playing very well at left tackle," said Erickson, who knows a thing or two about offensive linemen at both the college and pro levels after winning an NCAA championship at the University of Miami (Fla.) and spending six years with Seattle and San Francisco in the NFL.

"He is very athletic, which is what you need at that position. He's a good pass protector, and he is the leader of that front. We played him at right tackle last year some at the end, and probably should have played him at left tackle all year. He's made the move real well because he is so athletic."

Lauvao, who won a strongman competition as a teenager in Honolulu, is one of the strongest Sun Devils, with a bench press of 500 pounds and a squat of 675.

"I feel a lot more comfortable because I have a season under my belt. That definitely helps," Lauvao said. "They kind of dropped me out there last year. It was sink or swim. Pretty much I was just getting in somebody's way.

"Now I feel like I have more power and am playing with more technique. I have to give mad props to my coaches back at Farrington, because they really got me into weight lifting. Farrington's finest. The place we call the 'Factory.' "

It is too early in the year for the NFL scouts to have extensively analyzed the available college talent, but one ranking service lists Lauvao as the NCAA's 13th best guard, a position that might suit him best at the next level.

"He can play a lot of places because he is so big and so strong," Erickson said.

Lauvao is taking it one step at a time.

"This (senior year) is a big deal, man. Just on the verge of a dream, you know what I mean," Lauvao said. "Just praying, getting my mind right. If I believe it, I receive it, so I just have to keep having the right attitude, the right mindset."

Malamala, 6-3 and 267, played in all 12 games for ASU last season, making one start and catching one pass, a 17-yarder against Washington State. He missed a week of fall practice with a bulging disk but has been back in drills since.

"He will help us a lot, particularly physically in the running game," Erickson said.

"That's my role, as a run-blocker and pass-blocker," said Malamala, who also attended Golden West (Calif.) College before transferring to ASU in 2008.

"It's cool. As long as I'm on the field, it's cool."

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