“I think it's long overdue. I understand the business of the NFL and the fact that Josh was injured,” former Fallon Greenwave coach Ray Holladay said. “I told him when he was visiting camps to just bide his time, that everything happens for a reason.”
Having to wait four months since missing out on the NFL Draft, the four-year starting linebacker at Nevada and former Greenwave standout signed a one-year contract with the New York Jets on Sunday, becoming the second Fallon athlete in the NFL.
“They were much impressed with his workout,” said Michael Hoffman, Mauga's agent.
“Obviously, they had good grades on him and were waiting for him to become healthy. Josh is very excited and he's just excited to get his career going. He's looking forward to his opportunity.”
Hoffman said Mauga's been working in intense double-day workouts in training camp, but wasn't sure if he would play in the preseason games. Mauga, however, will need to pass several cuts before landing an official spot on the roster. Players our linebacker positions (right, left, middle and weak) on the team, with each being three players deep.
“He hasn't had any free time. He's been studying film, reading the playbook and talking to coaches,” said Hoffman, who added the Ravens and Saints were also interested in Mauga. “To Josh's credit, we explained the situation and what it could take. He worked out extremely hard and he kept in incredible shape. They were impressed with the shape he was in. He's excited to have the opportunity.”
Mauga went unsigned in April's NFL Draft when most experts had him pegged to be picked in the later rounds. Mauga joins fellow Greenwave grad Harvey Dahl, who's a starter for the Atlanta Falcons.
Injuries, though, plagued the Fallon native the last two seasons. Because of the season-ending back injury last year, the 6-foot-1, 243-pound Mauga missed the Roady's Humanitarian Bowl against Maryland, and NFL scouts couldn't accurately assess the linebacker. Mauga was also invited to play in the East-West Shrine game.
“It's definitely been long process for him,” Hoffman said. “We knew it would be with the injury. This is giving him the best opportunity for success now that the back injury is behind him.”
Mauga was invited to the NFL Combine in February, but the 2005 Fallon grad couldn't do any of the workouts. Mauga, however, ran drills in Nevada's pro day at Mackay Stadium in March, where one of the attending teams was the Jets.
Mauga's last collegiate game was against Boise State last year when Nevada almost pulled an upset over the undefeated Broncos. One of Mauga's highlights to end his college career came when he returned a second-half interception for a touchdown. Mauga, only the second Nevada player to sign this year, had 54 tackles (7.5 for loss) and 3.5 sacks as a senior.
For the Greenwave, Mauga was an all-region pick at linebacker and helped Fallon win its homecoming and upset Galena. Mauga was also the MVP of the annual Sertoma Football All-Star Classic in 2005.
“I think he ended up in a very good place,” said Holladay, whose first season at Fallon was Mauga's senior year. “Coach (Rex) Ryan is known for his defense and has a pretty good eye for linebacker talent. If you look at what he did when he was at Baltimore, he absolutely sees something in Josh. Now Josh just needs to go out there and make the squad.”
The Jets' camp will conclude next week before they play the Giants in their third preseason game. The Jets travel to Baltimore this weekend and conclude the preseason with the Eagles on Sept. 3.
“I think his chances are very good that he will make the team,” Holladay said. “He may have to go the route that Harvey (Dahl) went and go practice squad for a little while just because he's getting in so late. But overall, I think his chances are excellent of making the team.”