Skill players from the state of Hawaii never get the benefit of the doubt, even though they have produced a fair number of great ones at the college level.
Vavae Malepeai had to go out and earn respect in the camp circuit and did so by earning an invite to The Opening Finals and then performing well there. He deserves to be mentioned with the top backs in the nation and has all of the tools to be another outstanding running back at the University of Oregon.
Malepeai is a great athlete with very good speed, but it’s his feet and lateral agility that are truly outstanding. He is right around the 200 pound mark, but plays bigger than that. He is strong and is built to compete at the college level right now. I could see him settling in at the 205-210 mark while at Oregon. I’m not sure he has the frame to get much bigger than that without losing his speed.
When he puts his foot in the ground and hits it, he shows tremendous burst and gets to the second level in a hurry. In traffic, he has the feet to bust out of the congestion and break long runs if the opportunity is there. He is extremely difficult to tackle and makes a lot of people miss.
That’s not surprising given his athleticism, but what is more surprising is the power he runs with. It’s obvious he has a strong lower body and frequently runs through arm tackles. He will scratch and claw for extra yards.
One problem that he does have, that is not very uncommon for athletes like him, is his tendency to bounce it outside and look for the homerun. There are times where if he hits it up inside he can gain big yards and even possibly ending up breaking through. He can get away with bouncing it at the high school level, but he is going to be up against better athletes in the Pac-12 that will do a better job of setting the edge and tackling in the open field. He shows he can be a great inside runner and sometimes he should take what is there instead of trying to run to daylight.
He has decent hands, but I think he would have to improve if he is going to potentially be used as a slot receiver. If he gets the ball in the open field on a screen, though, he has the potential to take it all the way for six.
If he can get away from bouncing it outside, he should end up being tremendous runner for the Ducks.
The running back position at Oregon is pretty much a pipeline of talent that never stops replenishing. They continue to recruit extremely well at the position and Malepeai is another awesome fit for their offense. It might be a battle to see the field, but once he does, I think he can be a highly productive player with the ability to gain big chunks and make a difference in short yardage situations.
|Recruiting Site||Position||Position Rank||Stars|
Jamie Uyeyama was a way too small defensive tackle at Idaho State University and a more appropriately sized rush end at Simon Fraser University. He was a coach at the college and high school level and is the son of Ron Uyeyama, a member of the Delta Sports Hall of Fame and high school football coach for over 30 years (hence the site name, Son of a Coach).