Maduafokwa running over opponents
The first thing you notice about The King’s Academy running back Jason Maduafokwa is his sheer size.
“The first time I saw him, he was running around on the soccer field,” said TKA football coach Matt Lowe. “‘Who’s the giant out there running around?’ Physically he’s everything you could possibly look for in a running back. His height, his build is very impressive.”
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound junior showed what he can do with that body last Friday, running for 184 yards and four touchdowns in a 55-33 loss to Sunbright. Even with those huge numbers, Lowe thinks he’s seeing just flashes of Maduafokwa’s potential. The Lions will be anxious to see what Maduafokwa can do tonight when they travel to Hancock for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
The back came to Tennessee four years ago from Nigeria and there are technical aspects of football and playing running back that he’s still learning.
Watching Maduafokwa play now, it’s remarkable to think he almost didn’t play football.
“Seeing some highlights on ESPN, it shows it as very violent,” he said. “When I saw my friends play, it looked pretty fun. So I tried out for the team as a freshman and I liked it from there. ... I like the passion, the passion from everybody around me. It’s a very emotional sport.”
Lowe expects the junior to keep translating that passion into big numbers, like the 8.8 yards per carry he averaged last Friday. Quarterback Adam Deatherage said often by the time he looks up on a play, Maduafokwa is already 30 yards down the sideline.
“He’s got some great physical attributes,” Deatherage said. “He’s big. He’s fast. He works hard. He’s been lifting pretty much in the summer every year that he’s been in town. He’s worked hard at it.”
Maduafokwa focused on football this summer, instead of returning to his homeland as he had done in the past. Lowe said Maduafokwa had told him he was around 205 when the coach finally put him on a scale. The readout was 219.4.
“He’s probably more than 220 (now),” Lowe said. “Every time I see the kid I feel like he grows and gets better.”
Maduafokwa is also improving between the ears. Lowe said the running back doesn’t need concepts explained more than once as he absorbs what the coaches keep throwing at him.
Right now, the junior does a lot of natural running. Lowe said he’s trying to teach Maduafokwa things like balance, using the stiff arm, how to see cutbacks and let plays develop. Some ideas may be more instinctive for a player who grew up with football, but Lowe said his pupil learns fast.
That isn’t a good thing for TKA’s opponents.
“I’m trying to learn to read the defense like my quarterback over there,” Maduafokwa said. “I’m also trying to work on my blocking. I’m trying to learn all the moves my coach teaches me. ... I’m trying to make myself a complete back.”