Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu: Sewell’s Replacement at Tackle?

Cameron Johansson Recruiting 31 Comments

Monday afternoon, Oregon football kicked off the week with more bad news. All-American offensive lineman Penei Sewell has decided to forgo the 2020-2021 football season and enter the NFL Draft. Although this move makes sense for Sewell and was expected, it’s still a big blow.

Sewell closed the door on his illustrious Oregon career, going down as one of the best offensive linemen ever to don the Ducks’ uniform. In a year where Oregon will be breaking in a new starting quarterback, Sewell was needed more than ever to be the leader of this O-line unit. The Ducks now have a glaring hole at left tackle, and someone is going to have to step up and fill this hole.

When one door closes, another one opens. Redshirt junior Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu from Hilo, Hawaii is in his second year with the Ducks, and is a viable option to replace Sewell. After attending Liberty High School in Henderson, Nevada, Aumavae-Laulu didn’t have any Division 1 offers. He then elected to play for two years at Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas before coming to Oregon.

Navarro is a part of the National Junior College Athletic Association, and electing to play “JuCo” is not an unusual path. Former Duck LeGarrette Blount is the best-known player in recent Oregon history to play junior college ball before arriving in Eugene, while the best-remembered offensive lineman to come out of JuCo was Kyle Long. Both players later made their way to the NFL and became stars at their respective positions of guard and running back.


Oregon’s offensive line corps celebrates a Rose Bowl win.

At Navarro, Aumavae-Laulu greatly improved his size and play. In a matter of two years, he went from being an afterthought to the number-one-rated offensive guard in junior college, and the fifth-ranked prospect overall out of the JuCo pool. The consensus four-star began to grab a lot of attention from all over the country. Oregon competed hard with some of the country’s best for his recruitment, including Alabama, Oklahoma, Florida and Nebraska. Inside the Pac-12, USC, Utah and Arizona were all vying for his attention. Oregon eventually won out when he committed only two days after his official visit to Eugene.

Aumavae-Laulu has a build most comparable to a WWE wrestler, standing at 6’7″ and weighing 345 pounds. He is more comfortable at right guard, but with his size, he could compete for any spot on the line other than the center position. Also, it is rare to have a player of this size who moves as well as he does.

Whole Flock of Ducks writer Chris Courtney describes Aumavae-Laulu as,“a tantalizing talent who is only getting better, and soon he’ll have the good fortune of playing under one of the most respected offensive line coaches in the country in Cristobal. The potential is sky-scraping.”


Malaesala Aumavae-Laulu lines up in one-on-one drills.

Aumavae-Laulu looks to be the front-runner to replace Sewell. But earlier this week, the Ducks got a huge commitment from Kingsley Suamataia, one of the top-ranked offensive lineman in the country. Depth at the offensive line is not going to be an issue, but at the same time, it’s nearly impossible for any replacement to match a player like Sewell. Suamataia is thought to have the potential to fill that role when he arrives on campus, but in the meantime, Aumavae-Laulu has at least the size and strength to jump in as a serviceable starter.

Mario Cristobal is going to have plenty of options when the season eventually kicks off, and there’s no doubt he’s already playing with line combinations. These incoming freshmen could very well be plug-and-play type players, but Aumavae-Laulu is going to be a tough player to keep from protecting your quarterback on week one. Although he only has 35 total snaps to show for himself, he still has two years at JuCo. If there’s one thing you can’t teach, it’s experience.

Cameron Johansson
Portland, Oregon
Top Photo from Twitter

Bob Rodes, the Volunteer editor for this article, is an IT analyst, software developer and amateur classical pianist in Manchester, Tennessee.


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It is probably way to early to project the offensive line but I think he stays at guard. I’d argue the line is something like this from (left to right)

Steven Jones, Sam Poutasi or tj bass, Alex forsyth or ryan Walk, Malaesala, jonah Tauanu’u. it’ll be interesting to see if any of the the class last year makes the depth chart and i’d also watch for the center from utah who came home from and lds mission and just enrolled.


I agree UD, except my guess is, from left tackle to right: Tauanu’u, Forsyth, Bass, Malaesala, Jones

Jon Joseph

Thanks Cam, lots of newbies are going to have to step up. Including 2 new starting QBs.

For editor Bob Rodes: Hats Off! to Notre Dame for the opening victory and a BIG shout out to ND student body for making it sound like a ‘real game.’ Great showing by the student body.

In its illustrious history, ND is now undefeated in conference play.

Meanwhile, I wonder if the B12’s Bob Bowlsby wished that the season had been called off? Holy Sun Belt!

It is fun to get caught up on players that many of us have forgotten about, and he is a biggie! I forgot how huge he was and I’ve got to think that he will be playing a ton next season. Thanks Cameron!


May be there is a silver lining to this 2020 MESS !!!, is that this OL and young QB have more time to get bigger and better , working with JM and the staff


I often wonder how much time and what type of work the players and coaches can do together under the NCAA guidelines during this 2020 offseason ??

Can players and coaches get-together for unlimited amount of meetings ?? How about on field practice ??


I’ve been having silver lining musings as well, particularly regarding our offense. What was lost from the severely shorted Spring Practice Re installation of a new offensive scheme, can be made up for in spades, if we end up with a gap year for football.

Every skill group will have an abundance of young & promising talent, and our overall roster will be the deepest and most talented since floppy discs were in vogue. If Moorhead is any semblance of the Zen Master OC he is reputed to be, we will all be needing sunglasses, helmets, and earmuffs just to watch their brilliance in person.

Santa Rosa Duck

This sounds great Cameron. Time for next man up and one I barely know about. Junior College has produced many top players through the years. Aside from the fact that he was a total piece of slime, OJ Simpson came out of City College of San Francisco to become the top running back in the nation at USC. Thank you to all the contributors but I like articles like this that talk about the present or the future rather than ones that say “what if our kicker had made that field goal 12 years ago,, could we have gone all the way?” Doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

Coming up with topics at this time is harder than it looks. Try coming up with seven for this week…and then do it again. (and again)

We only have so many redshirt-reviews we can do, and not enough for more than one a week to make it last. All topic suggestions are welcome by email! Better yet, offer the topic and write a few paragraphs with your take on it.

Jon Sousa

I certainly appreciate the situation, Charles. I wish I had more creative juices in this area. I’ve often reacting to the ponder points with “why didn’t I think of that?”

Santa Rosa Duck

I apologize Charles. I plead pandemic exhaustion, fire, heat and smoke exhaustion, missing DUCK football attitude and now the latest as of two days ago cancelling my annual two days steelhead trip to the Rogue next week. My fly fishing guide even gave me a bit of attitude yesterday about cancelling even though Medford has a current AQI of 420. I told him to keep the one day deposit. Oh and I forgot the biggie. My wife informed me four days ago that we are gone from Northern California and the fires. Apparently hello Santa Fe and soon.

Jon Sousa

Sorry you are suffering SRD. Time to take a deep breath, try to relax, and count our blessings.

I too, am mourning to loss of fishing trips planned.

Jon Joseph

For OJ not to be accepted at SC out of HS back in the day? He must have been quite the scholar?


In other news, The Big 10 could have a vote of the Presidents/Chancellors to restart the football season as early as today. The vote to postpone was 11-3 ;to restart, it must be at least 9-5 in favor.

Jon Sousa

That’s an interesting majority to overturn the previous decision. I have been looking every day for a decision from the PAC12. I’m hoping for a mid-November start… but that decision will have to be made soon.

Jon Joseph

Come on B!G, Play Ball!

Rutgers has threatened to sit out if the B1G goes forward. Will anyone notice?


Good information Cameron, thanks.

Lots to be proven with this OL, and oh by the way is MC back in town yet ??

Jon Joseph

Yes. Good interview with MC on College Gameday yesterday. Unfortunately, the interview was ‘remote,’ in lieu of the in-person interview had the Ohio State game been played.


I didn’t see the MC interview. Did we learn anything new ??


I don’t think so. First priority for that position is pass protection. He is too big for left tackle and that would create a void at guard.


I wasn’t aware a O linemen could be too big, unless it makes him slow.


I’m in agreement, BDF, thanks, Cameron for this look at a Duck the size of OL’s we’re used to seeing other teams get. As you point out in the article, his size would be problematic at Center; but with the mobility he apparently has, it won’t be a problem for him.

Jon Joseph

As former O line guy Charles used to say: The bigger they come, the harder they fall!

Jon Sousa

I don’t know that there is a “void” anywhere on the O-line. Did you see the picture above of the O-line corps? Take out the seniors and Sewell, insert incoming giants, and what you have is nowhere close to a bare cupboard at any position along the line. The new starters all have a couple of years playing/practicing at the college level and everyone behind them are very highly rated.

Incoming for next year is the best O-line recruiting class in the PAC by far and competes as top level in the country. Sewell was extraordinary, but remember he came in straight out of high school and won the starting left tackle job (a position he had never played before) from a two year starter. The new guys coming in are top of the line.

Jon Joseph

The only void is in-game playing experience.

REVERSE!? Hopefully, the B1G powers that be will decide today to play ball come October and the Pac-12 will follow suit?

BYU can play but not Utah? Notre Dame can play but not Indiana and Purdue?


BYU can play but not Utah? Notre Dame can play but not Indiana and Purdue? – – – – different strokes for different folks.

Begs the question that if B1G decide to play come October and the Pac-12 follow suit, will all Pac-12 schools be able to play because of any local restrictions and will they have the players to play ?? I would love to see it happen.


The 9-5 vote needed in the BIG is 64%, 8-4 in the PAC is 67%. School’s voting no because they can’t play is different from voting not to play, and we don’t know what % is required by the PAC anyway. But, if the PAC is the only P5 conference not playing, that would be interesting.


If the Pac is the only P5 conference not playing it would be another big step towards irrelevancy. (are you listening Larry Scott)


Probably not, that’s what the consultants are for.


Another point Re Utah/BYU – state of Utah high school has been playing football for a couple weeks now. Seems they’ve had a modest number of expected postponements and mini quarantines, but overall it seems to be moving ahead.

Utah has already taken major steps to counter financial hits, so they certainly have incentives to play ball, but may be prepared to bite the bullet and sit this one out. Plus, they lost lots of front line talent from 2019, so their next men up (who may be old enough to run for the US Senate in 2021) will have more time to develop.

Stanford and USC are private, so the CA governor may be on a lesser legal footing for forcing them not to play (though Stanford seems inclined to ride this one out regardless; deep pockets et al.) SC players and coaches have a lot to prove, and may be losing some serious front line talent to the NFL draft.

So many pieces in motion!


Thanks, seems like every school has it’s own story.