In this installment of The Recruiting Notebook, we meet a player who brings elite potential to a position of desperate need: Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy 5-star OT Francis Mauigoa.
A Native of American Samoa, Mauigoa is a player who has been around the world in his pursuit of a career in football. His family moved to California for a few years, and Mauigoa played his freshman year at San Bernardino (CA) Aquinas as a two-way lineman. He played alongside his brother, linebacker Francisco, who ended up with a scholarship to Washington State. Their older brother Frederick played offensive line at Washington State , being named a finalist for the Rimington Award for the Nation’s best Center twice in his time in Pullman. So, even as a younger player, Mauigoa was around the world of recruiting, and the world of recruiting was around him. Already a very large player, the younger Mauigoa got on the future radar of a few teams that were recruiting his brother.
The younger Mauigoa wasn’t just good as a freshman, he was great. With 65 tackles, 3 sacks and a forced fumble for State Champion Aquinas, Mauigoa was named a MaxPreps 2nd team freshman All-American....at defensive line. If he wanted to play DT, Mauigoa would surely have developed into one of the top prospects at his position in the country. But, he had designs on playing another position in his football future.
After his freshman year, Mauigoa and family moved back to his hometown of Pago Pago, American Samoa. That year, Mauigoa mainly played defensive line for Tafuna High as they went through an undefeated, championship season. But didn’t see himself as a defensive lineman in the future, and made a bet on himself, and a big move, to prove himself right.
Mauigoa’s next high school stop would be his last: he transferred to the HSFB powerhouse Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy, a sports-first boarding school known for developing elite talent for the next level. When Mauigoa got to IMG, he immediately found a home on the offensive line. Slotting in as the starting Right Tackle as a junior, Mauigoa earned MaxPreps All-American honors for his performance. He worked opposite an Alabama-signee at Left Tackle, and blocked for several P5 recruits. It was this strong season that put Mauigoa on the national radar as a top prospect.
Having previous success with Offensive Linemen in general, and another Samoan in Penei Sewell, Mario Cristobal made Mauigoa a top priority recruit when he was coaching the Oregon Ducks. As you well know, Cristobal left Oregon to return to his alma mater as the head coach of the Miami Hurricanes. But even with that transition across the country, Mauigoa remained at the top of Cristobal’s recruiting priority list.
Through the spring and summer of 2022, Mauigoa narrowed his list and took visits to finalists all over the country. Miami was obviously playing catch-up, since the connection to Mauigoa was entirely based upon Cristobal being in Coral Gables, and he’d only been there for a few months. But, longevity in-role at Miami be damned, Cristobal did the job leading this recruitment and it paid off. Home in American Samoa for the summer, Mauigoa committed to Miami on the 4th of July, and gave Cristobal and company a major milestone commitment for the 2022 recruiting class.
(jump to 37:50 in the video if it doesn’t do that automatically)
On the 247sports composite, Mauigoa is a 5-star prospect, the #1 OT nationally, #2 in the State of Florida, and #8 player overall in this class.
Mauigoa committed to Miami over finalists Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, and USC from a list of 31 offers from around the country.
As A Player
The main thing Mauigoa brings to the table is a great size/strength combination. At 6’5.5” 330lbs, he fits all the measurables you want from an offensive tackle. As stated above, Mauigoa played on the Right side as a junior, but moved to Left Tackle as a senior. That experience on both sides is valuable, and speaks to Mauigoa’s versatile skillset.
While you may think Mauigoa is built more like a Guard than a Tackle, his experience at Tackle at IMG tells a different story. Additionally, an 81-inch wingspan is the kind of measurement you want from a 6’5” Tackle. Miami has had Guards miscast as Tackles for years. But those players were more in the 6’2”-6’3” range (DJ Scaife; Trevor Darling, etc). Mauigoa is a true Tackle, and that’s something Miami has seldom had in recent years.
When it comes to moving players at the point of attack, there are few linemen in this class who are as adept at this as Mauigoa. Simply put, Mauigoa is mean in blocking players on run plays. He’s got good enough athleticism to get to the second (or third) level, and when he gets his hands on smaller defenders, it’s a wrap. Mauigoa as a move player on a G/T counter or getting outside to lead block for a screen is something you routinely see, and should continue to see at the next level.
Additionally, elite pass rushing prospects have struggled to win against Mauigoa in camp and game settings, so even without perfect technique, Mauigoa is more than capable of getting the job done in run blocking and pass blocking situations alike.
Here’s a look at Mauigoa from 247sports Director of Scouting Andrew Ivins:
Special athlete that has the size and foot quickness to make a difference at football’s highest levels. Seems to always be in control of his body, which is impressive for someone that’s tipping the scales at just over 6-foot-5, 330 pounds. Still pretty green from a technical standpoint, but has made massive strides over the past two years and held his own in spotlight matchups against blue-chip pass rushers like Damon Wilson and Rueben Bain. One of the better down/move blockers we have seen in the class of 2023 as he fires out of his stance and drives would-be tacklers out of the way. Has limited issues getting to the second level and is very effective when asked to pull or get outside the hashes as he can open up big lanes for ball carries. Uses a wide base to find/establish leverage in pass protection, but must continue to improve that aspect of his game as he’s much better at moving forward than he is backwards at this stage in his development. Could also get a little more efficient/effective with his hand placement. Has a unique background having grown up in American Samoa before making his way to California as a teenager and then eventually to Florida. Started at right tackle as a junior at the NFL factory that is IMG Academy before flipping over to left tackle as a senior. Doesn’t exactly look like a franchise corner protector at first glance, but measurements (81-inch wingspan) and testing data (5.3 in the 40-yard dash and 4.5 in the short shuttle) paints a bit of a different picture. Is only going to get better with more seasoning and should be viewed as a multi-year starter for a Power Five program like his brother, who started over 30 games at center for Washington State and was named to the Rimington Award watch list. Rare explosive movement patterns and smash-mouth tendencies should draw plenty of looks from pro scouts.
- Experience at both Tackle spots
- Pedigree (multiple family members have played football and been scholarship players)
- No true position (could play on either side)
- Development needed in pass protection
- Refinement needed for technique
Don’t get it twisted: Mauigoa is absolutely the 5-star prospect he’s billed to be, and it won’t be long until he’s in the lineup for the Canes.
As I said, Miami has seldom had true Tackles on offense, and much less have they had a Tackle of Mauigoa’s build, strength, pedigree, and potential. Keeping him on the bench would be like buying a new Ferrari just to leave it in the garage. You get a car like that to drive it, and you recruit a player like Mauigoa to play him.
Ivins made the performance comparison between Mauigoa and former Oregon Tackle and 1st round draft pick Penei Sewell. If Mauigoa has that performance and career path, Miami fans would be elated. Sewell started as a freshman for Oregon, and that’s surely possible for Mauigoa, especially when you consider the state of the OL for the Canes.
The additional variable regarding Mauigoa’s future position and playing time at Miami is the fact that Miami signed another 5-star OT in this class. Samson Okunlola is another elite tackle who profiles just as well as Mauigoa, and some would make the argument that Okunlola is better. Personally, I’m good with either player at LT (the glamor position on the line), but more important is bookending the line with both elite talents. As to which one may be better at which position, we’ll have a piece on that coming up shortly.
Even if Mauigoa doesn’t start as a freshman, fully expect him to be in the rotation, with him moving into the starting lineup for several years. The sky is the limit for Mauigoa, as it would be at any school he chose, and he should be one of the best linemen the Canes have had in recent memory....if not the best. You want superstars on your team, and Mauigoa fits that bill. If everything goes according to plan, he’ll leave Miami in a few years as a high draft pick with plenty of awards and accolades to his credit. In terms of the immediate present, absent injury, I truly don’t see a logical reason that Mauigoa doesn’t play in 2023 for the Canes.
That’s it for this installment of The Recruiting Notebook.