I see Austin Peay and my first thought is that this player is a no-hoper in the NFL.
But Austin Maloata was once in a big-time program - he was a 3-year starter at Oregon. He was dismissed from the Ducks football team following a traffic accident and arrest in late 2016:
Former Oregon Ducks defensive tackle Austin Maloata was sentenced Tuesday to two years of probation and 30 days in Lane County jail after pleading guilty to a pair of misdemeanor counts of fourth-degree assault and a misdemeanor count of DUII.
A felony charge for methamphetamine possession was dismissed, according to court documents.
[A] Eugene police officer reported that the car Maloata was driving ran a red light near the UO campus and struck another car with two passengers, injuring both.
The incident came shortly after an Oregon home loss to Stanford and Maloata, who had been suspended for UO’s previous game at USC, was dismissed by the team before he was released from Lane County jail later that morning.
Maloata pleaded not guilty to four criminal charges for assault, DUII and methamphetamine possession. A Eugene police officer reported that Maloata initially denied driving the vehicle but later admitted to it after several witnesses confronted him. A breath test measured Malota’s blood-alcohol level at 0.11 percent, above the Oregon legal limit of 0.08.
During a search of the car, the officer located two glass pipes with methamphetamine residue.
Maloata’s lawyer, Laura Fine Moro, told the court that evidence showed the pipes did not belong to Maloata.
Maloata, 20, also reportedly apologized to the two women injured in the collision Tuesday, and he must pay them an unknown amount of restitution.
A more sympathetic telling of the story is found in an article that describes Maloata’s “second chance” at Austin Peay:
Maloata, who was 19 at the time, got a call from a teammate about 1 a.m. to come and pick him up. The two argued back and forth before Maloata, who said he “even had a bad gut feeling about driving,” ended up getting behind the wheel.
That decision set off a domino effect of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and poor decisions that turned from simply picking up another teammate to being arrested for driving under the influence, reckless driving and unlawful possession of methamphetamine. He was kicked off Oregon’s team in a matter of eight hours.
Maloata measured a blood-alcohol level at 0.11, above the Oregon legal limit of 0.08, after he was involved in a crash at an intersection near campus, The Oregonian reported. But none of the reports listed that the methamphetamine found in his car was left behind by one of the six passengers Maloata was carrying at the time of the accident, all of whom fled the scene.
“They ended up blowing me up as this dude that did meth,” Maloata said. “No one knew that there was six other people in the car. No one knew the whole story, just thought I was driving around with drugs in my car by myself. No one knew I went to pick someone up. No one knew any of that, so I ended up taking the blame.”
The blame and the heartbreak of telling his parents. “If it wasn’t for family to help me through that situation, I probably wouldn’t be here right now,” Maloata said, [with] ‘right here’ being at Austin Peay for a second chance.
The article goes on to detail some of the work done by the Athletics Department at Austin Peay in making their decision to bring Maloata into their program:
“I feel really comfortable with our vetting process and what we’ve done. I feel really comfortable with the information that we’ve been given,” Austin Peay athletics director Ryan Ivey said. “Talked to him personally and know what his goals are and certainly believe that this coaching staff and the people here at Austin Peay can help him achieve those goals both on the field and off the field.”
The vetting process included a month and a half of research, calls with “everybody that has ever had contact with the kid” and talks with Maloata himself, Austin Peay coach Will Healy said.
“He’s consistent, one. He’s genuine. It’s not like I’ll tell you what you what to hear and then you do something else on the back end. He’s been a team player. He has worked very hard to develop relationships with other guys on this team,” Healy said. “And he’s been legitimately excited about this opportunity even though he had a million others that from an outsiders’ perspective were better opportunities.
Maloata, who is required to sit out a season because of NCAA transfer rules, said he was sold on the culture that Healy has established.
“It really made me think of something else besides myself,” said Maloata, who will be participating in spring practices, which start Thursday. ”That’s why I chose here over some other schools like the West Coast.”
When it comes to his on-field ability, Maloata may face some challenges.
As a young defensive lineman trying to break into the NFL, there are probably few less inviting places than the Redskins, whose defensive line group is probably the deepest and youngest on the team.
Beyond that, Maloata may not even be the best developmental prospect in camp. Pro Football Network watched tape on the Redskins UDFAs and rated defensive lineman Jonathan Bonner from Notre Dame as the better prospect, saying that Maloata was too small to play NT and not athletic enough to play on the outside.
All in all, Maloata seems to be smallish for a defensive lineman at 283 pounds; he seems not to have impressed with what he put on film, and he has character concerns that date back to the 2016 season. Given the Redskins depth at defensive line, Austin Maloata looks like the longest of long shots to make the Redskins team.
As UDFAs go, rate Austin Maloata:
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How good are the chances that Maloata is on the Redskins roster in 2019?
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A taste of Austin Maloata’s Twitter feed:
I'm truly blessed to be on the board for the YMCA. When I get the opportunity to bring mentors, leaders, athletes etc to the Y I do. Late post Austin Maloata Washington Redskins Rookie BLESSED our camp kids. pic.twitter.com/8RRFmnt0AA— Georgia Zachary (@realgz13) July 6, 2019
Had fun this week hanging out with the kids at the Ronald McDonald hospital. A lot of these kids go through things you would never imagine. Keep fighting and being the light of the future ‼️ pic.twitter.com/hTpsdZkMXc— Austin Maloata (@austin_maloata) July 11, 2019
Our hearts are broken to learn of the passing of our beloved former teammate Tui Talia. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. pic.twitter.com/V8SuZuJe72— Oregon Football (@oregonfootball) May 29, 2019