Tipping the scales at 156 kgs and hovering above his opponents at over two metres, former South Sydney Rabbitohs Under 20s player Jordan Mailata has been making headlines in the United States for all the right reasons.
After departing Australia’s sun drenched shores in early January, 20-year-old Mailata has made his home at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. He's training for a shot at the NFL as an offensive lineman.
Here, he’s worked with former linebacker turned coach, Aden Durde, who was impressed with his skill set after watching a YouTube video sent to him by Mailata’s agent, Chris Orr. The series of highlights demonstrates his skill in running over the top of defenders in attack and crunching his opponents in defence. Watch it here.
Football Manager Mark Ellison was well aware of his talents in the time that he spent at the club and was supportive of Mailata’s bid in tackling the NFL head on. “His potential is untapped,” said Ellison. “When he came to us at the start of 2017, he weighed around 168kg but dropped weight to play the season at 140kg.”
“With rugby league it was the repeated efforts which sapped him but the game of NFL will be more suited to him. While he never played top level rugby league he always had a great ability and willingness to learn which no doubt will help him over there.”
Speaking to NFL.com, Mailata was quick to highlight the trials and tribulations that are involved with converting from one sporting code to another after initially popping over in December to test his hand at the game.
“This is just the start of my NFL journey.”
“I went there not really understanding the level of athleticism and skill the guys up front at the line of scrimmage had,” Mailata said, after spending a few weeks learning an entirely new sport.
“But now having been put through the many drills and testing, it certainly opened my eyes to how good the NFL athlete is.
“I am looking forward to the challenge and feel confident I can succeed, but I now have a lot of hard work in front of me before I can start thinking of wearing an NFL jersey.”
Despite his honesty and modest approach, there’s no hiding his untapped potential in becoming a regular NFL athlete. His recent 5.00-second 40-yard dash would have ranked among the top five at his position at this year's NFL Combine, a touch better than potential first-round offensive lineman Connor Williams, who ran 22.67 kgs lighter than Mailata.
These efforts have drawn immense praise from his coach and mentor Aden Durde. “Jordan has worked really hard to pick up a sport that he knew nothing about when he arrived in Florida at the start of the year,” Durde said.
“His physical talents are overwhelming and stand him in good stead for success in whatever sport he wants to participate in. But so much of football is technique, and he has been really focused on getting that part of his game right.”
With the official NFL Draft commencing on April 26 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Mailata would be worth taking a chance on for any NFL side.