May 9, 2024

Eteva Mauga-Clements: In Search of an Opportunity

EDMONTON – Eteva Mauga-Clements has travelled across the world in search of a football opportunity.

At only 24-years-old, his path to pro football has not always been linear. Now, standing in front of the media inside the cavernous bowl of Commonwealth Stadium, Mauga-Clements hopes he’s reached his destination.

“First of all, don’t green and yellow look good on me?” he asked the media. “I never thought I’d rock green and yellow, but it’s a nice colour. My first day? Not bad, you know, just getting the nerves out and stuff like that.”

Mauga-Clements joins the Elks as the first-overall pick in the CFL Global Draft and is participating in his first pro Rookie Camp. As much as he says he needs to work out the nerves off the field, the product of America Samoa’s laid-back personality is plainly evident in front of the camera.

Mauga-Clements has been on quite a journey. He grew up in America Samoa, a small series of islands northeast of New Zealand with an estimated population of less than 45,000 people.

“We don’t get seasons. We only have rain and sun. Our winter is like mostly rain, but we don’t get snow, nothing like that. It’s just tropical all year round,” Mauga-Clements said about his home country. “It’s the island vibe, man. It’s a small island. Everyone kind of knows each other and it’s a whole lot different out here.”

The linebacker picked up the game of football while in America Samoa, turning aside his first love in soccer due to too many red cards. Mauga-Clements thrived off physicality and as an outlet he chose football in 2012.

The shift to the other football was a successful one. He would end up travelling to America to play at Diablo Valley Community College, where he recorded 82 tackles and 8.5 sacks in 18 games over two seasons. Mauga-Clements was so successful that a Division I program in the Nebraska Cornhuskers came calling. He would transfer and wrap up his career as an academic All-Big 10 player in 2021 and 2022, while being an outstanding special teams contributor for the Midwestern College.

Still, Mauga-Clements wasn’t satisfied with just competing the top College level — he wanted to make football a career.

“I always knew I wasn’t meant for a desk job because, I always love being physically active,” he said. “I just didn’t want to sit down. I know if I sit down, I get lazy too fast and stuff like that. I wanted to look for a career just outside.”

Mauga-Clements attended a few camps and workouts, but was unable to find the opportunity he desired. He was getting prepared to suit up for the Vegas Knight Hawks of the Indoor Football League before his agent let him know the CFL Global Draft may be an option.

In preparation for the draft, Mauga-Clements took part in the CFL Combine where he let his athleticism and personality shine through. The 6-0, 220 lb linebacker was named as a coaches pick after the three day combine in Winnipeg. The performance caught the eye of the Elks brass and Mauga-Clements was the first name off the board in the 2024 CFL Global Draft.

As for the type of player the Elks are getting, Mauga-Clements words speak for themselves.

“Effort, man. I’m just going to fly to the ball. I might run a 4.7 (forty-yard dash), but on that film I might run a 3.9,” he said. “It’s just a little different. I’m a type of guy that likes to read my keys and then just explode.”

Entering day two of Elks Rookie Camp, the Global pick’s journey isn’t lost on him. The Global pathway has opened up opportunities for players that may not have originally gotten the opportunity to let their skills shine.

“I’ve traveled halfway around the world,” Mauga-Clements said. “I went from American Samoa, to California, keep going to Nebraska, had a game in Ireland, then back to the US, and then now up North of the States in Canada. I’m really grateful for this game.”

“It’s awesome for me now that I just get a to be in this game to contribute to the greatness of this CFL league,” he added. “It’s not just a hobby anymore, it’s a job. So, I’m really grateful for this league.”