Less than a week into his Southeastern Louisiana career, Maea Teuhema is settling in quite nicely.
The former LSU offensive lineman transferred to Hammond last week after leaving the Tigers at the start of camp and already he’s a potential starter for Week 1 against Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday.
Teuhema was projected to be LSU’s starting right guard before he was suspended for what was described as academic issues and subsequently decided to leave, but SLU has him at left tackle where he’ll almost assuredly receive plenty of playing time, if not hold the starting job outright.
“Nobody walks in our door, regardless of where they come from, and is going to be an automatic starter,” said offensive line coach Travis Mikel. “It’s going to be something he has to learn. He’s going to have to know what he’s supposed to do and how to do it and he’s going to have to do it coach Roberts’ way before he’s deemed a starter.
“He definitely has the tools to do it, but we have some talented kids here already that we thought were very capable of helping us win a conference championship.”
Teuhema’s sudden and late arrival shook up the Lions offensive line, forcing the team to make last-minute adjustments to their starting lineup.
Sophomore Alfred Beverly was expected to be the starting left tackle before Teuhema’s arrival but has since moved to a backup role at right tackle.
That leaves first-year transfer Kyle Strickland and freshman Rendon Miles-Character as Teuhema’s competition for starting left tackle.
Mikel said he couldn’t give a complete evaluation of Teuhema as of Thursday, his third day with the team, but said he has no problems with Teuhema being named the starter only two weeks after his arrival.
After a brief transition period, Teuhema was cleared for all contact Thursday.
“He’s big and powerful,” said right guard Michael Vick. “He can move really quick. That’s something a lot of linemen don’t do. From his credentials, I was hoping he would catch on pretty quick, but he caught on faster than I expected.”
Mikel said the biggest hurdle for Teuhema, or any else who transfers at the start of a season, is to drop his personal guard and and not let pride get in his way.
Vick said Teuhema — who has not yet been approved for interviews by the team — is fitting in well with the other linemen, even helping pass on some of the knowledge he picked up during his time in Baton Rouge.
“We can learn from him, as well,” Vick said. “Today, he taught us a few steps we weren't used to seeing and some more terminology. We’re very excited for that. Being a five-star recruit doesn’t mean anything if you don’t perform. But he’s performing.”