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Kai Maiava has recently been trying a new position with the CU football team.
Maiava, who was a starting offensive guard last season, said he has made the move to fullback for the Buffs during spring practice and will likely keep the position for the coming season.
The decision follows a note-worthy freshman season.
A winner of the Scout.com freshman All-America team and only the third offensive guard in 45 years to win the Lee Willard Award, which is awarded to the team’s top freshman, Maiava proved himself as a worthy blocker.
But a coach’s decision put him a few steps back from his familiar spot.
“I always was a little undersized for a lineman, so I think that’s what pushed coach towards making me a fullback. So I can still block for them,” Maiava said.
As Maiava continues to try the new position, he said his comfort level is not what it used to be. However, he was quick to point out his willingness to try a new spot.
“I thought it would be cool to at least try it out, and if I didn’t like it, I could probably switch back during the summer,” Maiava said. “But I thought I’d try it out, and I’m starting to like it. (but) I’m fairly uncomfortable. I don’t really know the plays yet. I don’t even know where to line up half the time. But I’m sure once I learn everything I’ll begin to like it.”
This unfamiliarity is expected considering his background. As a prep athlete, Maiava played both offensive guard and center. Senior year he was named a first-team All-State and All-Maui performer.
Throughout his high school career, he did not allow a single quarterback sack.
Despite being uncomfortable, Maiava said he feels confident that he will succeed in his new spot.
He also continues to receive the support of his teammates. Players on both offense and defense said they have taken note of his new position and like what they see.
“One thing about Kai is he has great hands like a lineman, but he can move,” said outside linebacker Brad Jones. “He has great feet too. He’s going to be good. He’s going to be really good.”
Jones said the spot seemed like a natural fit, but requires a few more skills. Apart from learning how to catch and some different styles of blocking, Jones called both spots equally challenging with Maiava being new to the fullback position.
Offensive tackle Ryan Miller said the offensive line is now missing one of its old, familiar players.
“I can’t speak for Kai, but Kai’s not going to have any trouble changing anywhere,” Miller said. “He’s got a work ethic that’s great.”
Maiava said he did get hassled a little bit about it the move by some of the team.
“The O-line was kind of like, ‘whoa you’re leaving us man,’” Maiava said. “But everybody after a while was like, ‘yeah he’ll be pretty cool at fullback.’ So I think they’re pretty happy about it. Only time will tell. We’ll see where the future takes me.”
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Kyle L. Haas at firstname.lastname@example.org.