LARAMIE — Cassh Maluia grew up in Compton, California. Four years ago, he made the move to Wyoming, the first school that offered him a football scholarship.
His next stop, at some point, will be Massachusetts.
Maluia lived out his own dream when the New England Patriots took the former UW linebacker in the sixth round of the NFL Draft. Maluia waited nearly three full days as more than 200 picks went by before the Patriots called late Saturday afternoon to inform him they were going to snatch him up with the 204th overall pick.
“It feels really, really great,” Maluia told Boston reporters on a conference call afterward. “It was really breathtaking when I first got the call.”
There wasn’t nearly as much hype surrounding Maluia heading into the draft as there was for his longtime running mate, fellow linebacker Logan Wilson, an All-American for UW who many thought might be the lone Cowboy taken in the seven-round draft. The Cincinnati Bengals took Wilson with the first pick of the third round (65th overall) Friday.
Maluia was a three-year starter and finished his UW career with 197 tackles and just 1.5 sacks, but the 6-foot, 248-pounder helped his draft case at UW’s Pro Day in early March just before the sports world came to a halt amid the coronavirus outbreak. He ran 4.53 seconds in the 40-yard dash, a time he said then that surprised even himself.
The Patriots were one of the teams he met with afterward. Maluia said Saturday he also FaceTimed with the team later during the pre-draft process to “show them what I can do on the board and not on the field.”
“I feel like I’ve got the versatility of many positions,” Maluia said. “I’m willing to do whatever the coaches want me to do. Just to go out there and contribute the best I can for the Patriots.”Maluia admitted the quickest way to get on the field at the next level may be on special teams, but like every rookie coming into the league, he’ll first have to earn a spot on the Patriots’ 53-man roster. Maluia is one of three linebackers the team drafted (Josh Uche, second round; Anfernee Jennings, third round) after losing Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts and Jamie Collins in free agency this offseason.
“I played special teams my whole freshman year,” Maluia said. “I feel like I can definitely contribute on special teams, and that was my plan to get noticed and play special teams.”
NFL teams were scheduled to begin holding rookie minicamps the first weekend in May, but any instruction in the near future will instead have to come virtually amid the coronavirus shutdown. When Maluia will actually be able to report to his new team is unknown, but he’s just glad to have an opportunity.
“I couldn’t be happier about being a Patriot,” Maluia said.
Follow UW athletics beat writer Davis Potter on Twitter at @DavisEPotter.
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