Originally Published: May 15, 2013

DE Maloata's unique journey to USC

By Johnny Curren | ESPN RecruitingNation

Looking out over the pristine turf field at Corona (Calif.) Centennial just prior to the team's recent "College Showcase" -- an amped-up version of spring practice that attracted more than 30 coaches from some of the top football programs in the country -- it was easy to notice Austin Maloata staring with a sense of wonder.

Having moved to the mainland in March from American Samoa, the Class of 2014 defensive end has undergone a meteoric rise from complete unknown to highly publicized USC pledge. And now, everything -- even the artificial playing surface in front of him -- can be a lot to take in at times.

Troy Polamalu
Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesFollowing in the path of his idol, Troy Polamalu, 2014 DE Austin Maloata has committed to USC.

"Back in Samoa, we don't have turf or any of this stuff," said Maloata, who prepped at Leone High School in Pago Pago prior to his arrival in Southern California. "We play on rocks. There's practices where you get tackled, and you get up and your knee is all bloody. So coming here to Centennial and feeling the turf here, it was shocking. Kids over here, they have all of the sleds, they have all the bags, they have turf … they have everything. In Samoa, we use the actual players themselves as tackling dummies."

It's that background, marked by unforgiving physicality, that Maloata believes gives him an edge over many of his counterparts, and he just might have a point. After all, the success of native Samoans, both in the college ranks as well as the NFL, has been well documented.

With little recruiting attention coming his way following his junior season, however, Maloata and his father, Faleupolu, decided that he'd have a better shot at gaining notice almost 5,000 miles away in Corona, where he now resides with an uncle, as well as his two older brothers, Faleupolu Jr. and Tuivasa, both of whom attend and play football at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, Calif.

For the full story, check out WeAreSC Insider.

Johnny Curren

WeAreSC, Reporter

Track meet prime recruiting time for Texas

By Max Olson | ESPN RecruitingNation

AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas might not be the sexiest football program in the state right now, but Longhorns coach Mack Brown is making up for that with smarts.

Ishmael Zamora
Max Olson/ESPNClass of 2014 receiver Ishmael Zamora turned heads by winning the Class 5A 110-meter hurdles event.

The Longhorns showed off their savvy once again this weekend by turning the state track meet into a sneaky-big recruiting weekend.

The state's best athletes descended on Austin on Thursday, Friday and Saturday to compete in the UIL track and field championships. The Texas coaching staff awaited them with open arms.

Considering the track meet at Mike A. Myers Stadium is literally across the street from DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium and Texas' football offices, capitalizing couldn't have been easier.

While Longhorns coaches aren't permitted to attend the state meet, there's nothing stopping them from inviting recruits and their families to make the short walk over before or after they compete.

So the coaches hung around the facilities, waiting for big-name prospects and potential new targets to drop by. Those who visited got tours, met with coaches and even played video games and pool in the players' lounge.

And finding elite recruits at the meet -- either as competitors or spectators -- was like shooting fish in a barrel. More than 20 prospects stopped by to check out UT while in town, and that's likely a serious underestimate.

To read the full story, check out HornsNation Insider.

Max Olson | email

ESPN Staff Writer

Behind the lens

By Damon Sayles | ESPN RecruitingNation

MESQUITE, Texas -- ESPN 150 safety Dylan Sumner-Gardner (Mesquite, Texas/West Mesquite) prides himself on being one of the nation's hardest hitters. Recently, the Texas A&M commit has taken on a new moniker -- hardest-hitting cameraman.

West Mesquite spring football drills can get intense, and when it's time for 7-on-7 or 11-on-11 drills, there's rarely a dull moment. Unfortunately, the drills haven't been including the nation's No. 7 safety and No. 86 player overall. Sumner-Gardner has been nursing a bone bruise in his left knee.

So what is Sumner-Gardner doing while the drills are going on? He's helping the team by filming each play. West Mesquite doesn't have an official camera operator during practices, but it's a job Sumner-Gardner takes as seriously as he does his safety position.

"I've got the best camera skills in the whole country," Sumner-Gardner joked. "And I'll still hit you."

Sumner-Gardner sustained his injury in March, and the four-star athlete originally was scheduled to sit for eight weeks. Sumner-Gardner's return date was supposed to be May 13, but he said West Mesquite trainers are pushing back his return to the field for precautionary measures.

"They're saying June 15 now," he said, "but then, they said if I wanted to come back early, I could."

While Sumner-Gardner misses being on the field, he's not trying to rush anything, health-wise. The 6-foot-1, 198-pounder is going through his rehabilitation at his own pace, and he's preparing himself for team 7-on-7 play, summer two-a-days and, eventually, his senior football season.

"This makes me think about the season ahead," he said. "Do I want to risk anything in the spring? I want to make sure I come back 100 percent."

In the meantime, Sumner-Gardner -- in addition to being a pretty good cameraman -- is doing his part as an unofficial player-coach. He sees tons of potential in 2015 defensive backs Speedy Miles and Josh Butler and highly touted 2016 CB Bailey Phillips, and he chimes in with advice whenever he gets the opportunity.

"Oh, that's on the regular. I'll be out there talking to the DBs during their individual [drills] and helping out any way I can," Sumner-Gardner said. "But when they get to 7-on-7 [drills], I've got to go and record. It's all good."