Kaluka Maiava is taking this week off, and for good reason.
''All the USC guys are taking this week off,'' Maiava said via phone Wednesday. ''After what we have been through, we are all just relaxing and recouping, taking a little break. Believe me, we have been through a lot.''
Maiava, a 2005 Baldwin High School graduate and all-star linebacker who recently finished his career at Southern California with defensive player of the game honors in his fourth Rose Bowl, has been at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis for most of the last week.
He tested well, for the most part, and his stock appears to be rising as he seeks to become the first Mauian to be drafted by an NFL team.
His 30 repetitions in the 225-pound bench press tied him with two others, including All-American teammate Brian Cushing, for the most among linebackers; his time of 6.98 seconds in the three-cone drill tied for fourth among linebackers; and his time of 4.20 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle was third.
Maiava did not participate in the 60-yard shuttle or vertical jump, while his 9-foot-5 mark in the broad jump was not in the top 10.
It is his 4.70 time in the 40-yard dash that he wants to improve on the most when USC's pro day rolls around on April 1 before the April 25-26 draft.
''My 40 was a 4.7 and I know I can run 4.5, I have run 4.5 before,'' Maiava said. ''I was a little mad after my 40 and when I ran the three-cone and (20-yard) shuttle, I did really well on those. I can do a lot quicker in the 40. On April 1st for our pro day, I can knock those things out. We have big names at USC, obviously, so all the coaches that were at the combine will be at our pro day.''
Maiava did all of that while also fielding a day full of demanding psychological tests from NFL teams and a full day in the hospital, including six hours longer than most of the participants as he underwent tests from all 32 NFL team doctors and then was asked to stay longer while his surgically repaired wrists were examined by an MRI and X-rays.
Throw in 7 a.m. as the latest wake-up call he received in his five-day stay in Indianapolis - one day the unexpected call came at 4 as an unannounced drug test awaited at 4:30 - and it is easy to see why Maiava needs a little rest before he makes his final push before the USC pro day.
Maiava spent most of the last six weeks at the D1 training facility in Franklin, Tenn., as he prepared for the combine with other prospects from Oregon, UCLA, Illinois, and Penn State. After this week of rest, he will go to the API facility in Carson, Calif., to continue his preparation for the pro day.
''I felt pretty good at the combine,'' Maiava said. ''Except for my 40, I was upset with that. The bench press and linebacker drills - the three-cone and shuttle - were really good for me.''
Maiava pointed to the 30 reps he did in the bench press as an indication that his work has paid off. Matching Cushing in that drill was a good sign, Maiava said.
''I tied Cush in the bench and everybody expected him to do about 60 reps,'' Maiava said. ''I actually could have done more but the guy spotting me started spitting in my face.''
Fellow USC linebacker Rey Maualuga, like Cushing a consensus All-American, pulled up with a hamstring injury in the 40. Maiava said don't expect Maualuga to be out long.
''It is pretty bad,'' Maiava said. ''He heard a pop, so it wasn't just a pull or strain, but that guy is a freak of nature, a beast. Last time he was hurt they said four weeks and he was back in one, so I expect him to be ready for the pro day.''
Maiava measured 5-foot-11, 229 pounds officially at the combine, an inch shorter and three pounds lighter than he was at the East-West Shrine Classic in Houston a month ago. Being on a USC team with Cushing, Maualuga and fast-rising fellow USC linebacker Clay Matthews only helps Maiava, a second-team All-Pacific-10 Conference selection in his only season as a starter.
''When I go to meet the coaches they are shocked at how small I am because they love the way I play,'' Maiava said. ''They see that this guy can play with Rey and Cush and Clay, do the training part, which has been a competition between us since our freshman year, trash talking, who is going to make the most tackles, stuff like that. When coaches come to watch them, they ask 'who is number 43 (Maiava)?' I got the chance to tell them, 'Hey, I'm Kaluka Maiava,' even though they couldn't pronounce my name. It is my chance to shine, and for the most part, I did, so it is all good.''
The 200-question psychological test from one NFL team steamed Maiava, but he knows just being invited to the combine was a big opportunity. He had personal interviews with 28 of the 32 NFL franchises.
''You definitely have to appreciate just being there,'' Maiava said. ''It is one more opportunity to prove yourself, get a real extensive look from all the teams. I was real fortunate because having four linebackers from one school is pretty much unheard of. I don't know what some of the questions they asked have to do with tackling somebody on Sundays, but they are putting up a lot of money, so they want to know all about you.''
Maiava said he has told his agent, Kenny Zuckerman of Priority Sports, not to tell him about where he may go in the draft. He has already had a few inquiries about flying out to individual teams for personal workouts.
''I am just going to hit it hard for four more weeks, four more more weeks of grinding it out,'' he said. ''And hopefully I will hear my name, seeing it go across the bottom of the screen on April 25th or 26th.''
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org