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Monday, December 16, 2013
Notebook: Talamaivao solid with USC

By Blair Angulo

NORWALK, Calif. -- The tears in the eyes of ESPN 300 offensive guard Viane Talamaivao (Corona, Calif./Centennial) told the story.

A part of Talamaivao was sad because high school career had just come to an end Saturday night. Another part of Talamaivao was thrilled for close friend and possible college teammate Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), who will continue his journey to the state bowl game.

A 70-49 victory by St. John Bosco at Cerritos College left Talamaivao emotional, despite the U.S. Army All-American Bowl next month and a bright future at USC.

“I’m so proud of my team,” Talamaivao said. “I wouldn’t trade these guys for the world. I love my team. But it’s St. John Bosco’s turn. It was probably meant to be. I hope they go on and win it all next week.”

While many recruits view the end of their football seasons as the true start of their recruitment, Talamaivao could not be any more solid with the Trojans after decommitting from Alabama. Though Ed Orgeron was a major reason why Talamaivao flipped, the arrival of assistant coach Johnny Nansen from Washington only strengthened his pledge.

“It was weird and crazy,” Talamaivao said. “I decommit from Alabama and go to USC, and two weeks later my uncle is over there. God works in mysterious ways. I think it was all meant to be.”

Mama and John “JuJu” Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) were among the recruits who made it to the USC campus Friday night for unofficial visits, and Talamaivao remained optimistic about his buddies joining the recruiting class.

“They'd better come to USC with me,” Talamaivao said. “I’m going to be mad if they don’t. Hopefully Jacob Tuioti-Mariner (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) comes with us, too. The USC coaches haven’t offered him yet, but he’s a hell of a player. Hopefully we’ll get him on board.”

Though not as highly touted as the pair of ESPN 300 members, Tuioti-Mariner has kept up with Mama and Talamaivao since the fifth grade. They faced off in youth leagues and again as freshmen in the Inland Empire before transferring to their respective high schools.

“Viane’s quickness and demeanor to punish D-linemen is nuts,” Tuioti-Mariner said. “The way he plays reminds me of Damien, who I see in practice every day. They are all-around offensive linemen and possess balanced techniques. He’s tough to go against. I feel bad for the future USC opponents that will have to line up against him.”

Tuioti-Mariner might just be one of those future USC opponents. He picked up a scholarship offer from UCLA recently and has pegged the nearby school as his leader heading into the dead period. Staying close to home is a priority for Tuioti-Mariner, so he’s hopeful USC will also become a possibility.

“An offer from USC would be really cool,” said Tuioti-Mariner, who has also known Nansen for years. “It would be just as big as a UCLA offer. It would be great to have two local schools as options. Coach Nansen was looking at me when he was at Washington, so it would be cool if an offer does happen.”

USC commit wears the enemy’s gloves

Three-star defensive tackle Austin Maloata (Corona, Calif./Centennial) made an official visit to UCLA last weekend and showed off a pair of Bruins gloves on Saturday night, though he downplayed the significance of his fashion statement.

“Gloves are just gloves, man,” Maloata told reporters. “I didn’t have gloves tonight and Viane didn’t have any either to loan me, so I just wore these.”

Maloata added that his commitment to USC remains strong.

“I talked to coach Nansen this past week and we have a good relationship,” the 6-foot-3, 250-pound prospect said. “I’m focusing on my grades and passing my tests. Hopefully I’ll go in there next summer.”

UCLA, according to Maloata, would seem to be a good secondary option. He is also scheduled to visit Arizona State on Jan. 24 and has made a trip to Washington State.

“The official visit to UCLA was nice,” Maloata said. “The players all have a family bond. It was nice to be around Anthony Barr and those guys. I’d put UCLA as a backup option. Just in case something happens with USC, I have to have another plan. But right now, I’m all USC. It’s sad that coach O isn’t there anymore. He’s a great guy and I’m sad he’s not there anymore, but God has his ways. I believe coach Nansen and coach Steve Sarkisian came here for a reason. I’ll go with the flow and hopefully everything goes well with my recruitment.”

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