The Huskers got a boost to their defense earlier this week when Diablo Valley College inside linebacker Eteva Mauga-Clements verbally committed to the team. Mauga-Clements was a good get for the Huskers at a position of need this cycle. He told Hail Varsity the visit was above and beyond what he expected.
“It was very eye-opening and let’s just say it exceeded my expectations,” he said at the time.
Have you ever wondered what an official visit looks like from a parent’s perspective though? I caught up with Mauga-Clements’ father, Derrick Clements, to get the answer to that question. I wanted to see what drew them to Nebraska during that visit. Clements already understood the history surrounding Husker football. He knew facility, stadium and weight room would be awesome. It was the overall structure that blew him away.
“It was absolutely amazing,” Clements said. “I’m not trying to sound cliché but it was mind-blowing that every door we walked through in that building, either on-campus or off-campus there was someone there to help us. What I mean by that is that there is someone there to support my son. To me, what I gathered from it was that it wasn’t just the men’s sports. Obviously, football is the big thing there but when I’m walking through the buildings and see all the other photos and portraits and videos I see the women’s sports. I’m a father with two young daughters.
“I see the support in general for students at the University of Nebraska. Being that I’m here in California and within a 40- or 50-mile radius I have Cal-Berkeley, Stanford, San Jose State. it’s just different. It was just amazing with the support there. That’s what really won over my wife and I.”
Clements has been coaching high school football for 24 seasons in California and has been on several recruiting trips with his players as a result. Some don’t have guardians that can go with them or, if they do, they just want him there for support while going through a life-changing process. The academic support he knows his son will get in Lincoln caught his eye.
“When I sat down with Dennis [LeBlanc], their academic coordinator, he’s been there 37 years. He was super transparent,” Clements said. “I loved his demeanor. He walked us through it. He was very clear on how the handling and coordinating of how we first acquire classes then look at a larger number, cut them down to a smaller scale, get classes that [Eteva] is comfortable with. There is tutoring provided for each field depending on what his major is. There is math tutoring. There is English tutoring. I asked Dennis if we needed to buy him a laptop before he came out [to Lincoln] and those are all provided for us.”
It wasn’t the glitz and glamour that sold the family on Nebraska. Clements knew they’d be well-fed on the trip and that people would be polite. Everything was genuine and that connected with the entire family.
As the family moved through the visit, everyone seemed to know who they were. Clements’ time with the trio of Coach Scott Frost, defensive coordinator Erik Chinander and inside linebackers coach Barrett Ruud was impactful.
“Coach Ruud is amazing,” he said. “I love his family history at that school. I love his confidence in that school. Even more so I know he takes a lot of pride in it because he’s from there. His brother played there. His dad did too. His grandfather played at Nebraska from 1919-1921. I loved Coach Frost’s demeanor. Coach Chins [Chinander], the defensive coordinator, too. I feel like those are men I can drop my son off with.”
Director of Performance Nutrition Dave Ellis blew away Clements during their conversation together. Eteva has tremendous length for his size. Ellis figured that out from the battery of tests he puts recruits through. By the time spring football rolls aroung, he expects to potentially weigh in the 228-230 range. Nebraska has the science to put that weight on him. It will help Eteva that he is already a clean eater (aside from his dislike for vegetables). We know he loves the weight room because that’s where he called Frost from to commit.
Eteva is half-Samoan (his mother is 100% Samoan) and has only lived in the United States for two years. It’s a big deal for him and the family to come to Nebraska to play college football. He’s an old-school football player with great instincts for the game. It was important for Clements to find a college they were comfortable with.
“I even loved the schedule they had us on,” he explained. “From the time we got up until the time we went to bed. Sitting in the different meetings with social media, LifeSkills or academic coordinator. Obviously, the football part was super exciting because I coach football and love that part. Overall, the process of how they see using him as a football player [was great] but more so how they have the environment structured to be successful there. “
Clements also did something else on the visit that was clever. He tried to get a sense of the place through the eyes of current players on the team.
“I enjoyed talking to some of the current players that were there,” he said. “Some from out of state. I wanted to ask them if it was like this when they came on their visits and if they still get treated like this. They told me honestly once you sign you get treated even better if that’s believable. They were all super positive.”
He also talked to a couple of the other junior college prospects on campus that weekend. They were also loving their visits remarking that it was much different than what they had at the JUCO level. Talking to the young guys was an enjoyable part of the process for Clements. In the end, Clements knows he is leaving his son in good hands. That’s what mattered to him as a dad.
“Coach Frost is super down to earth,” Clements said. “He was really easy to talk to. Coach Ruud I love his passion. The way he and Coach Chins articulate everything, to me that’s a definition of a man.
“Good hard-working guys. Just humble enough not to come across arrogant.“