Notre Dame picked up a commitment from Honolulu (Hawai'i) Punahou linebacker Kahanu Kia.
The Punahou standout has offers from Utah, UCLA, Stanford, Colorado, Arizona and Washington State. Offers from Princeton and Dartmouth display his academic achievement.
Let's take a look at what the commitment of Kia means for Notre Dame.
Kia becomes the 22nd player to commit to Notre Dame in the 2021 class, assuming he stays in this class and does not immediately serve a two-year LDS mission. He is the 10th defensive player to commit to Notre Dame.
Linebacker was a need in this class, but more from an impact standpoint than a numbers standpoint. Kia is the second linebacker to pick Notre Dame, joining talented Tennessee linebacker Prince Kollie.
Kia brings a different body and skillset to the game than does Kollie, which makes the future teammates a complementary duo for this class.
Notre Dame now has six commitments along the "front seven," although the status of defensive end commit David Abiara is still a question mark.
NOTRE DAME FIT
Kia plays all over the field for Punahou. You will see him line up in space, on the edge and in the middle of the defense as a linebacker. That versatility is likely something that attracted the Notre Dame staff to Kia.
He is a smart and instinctive football player, he's fundamentally sound and he's a quality tackler. Kia knows how to play football, and it allows him to make a lot of plays at the prep level. He takes on blocks extremely well, plays with sound footwork and shows a knack for beating blockers to the football. I like how Kia drives through ball carriers, and he rarely stops moving his feet.
Kia lacks the ideal range to be a great cover player on the outside, but he's instinctive in coverage. As an inside linebacker, especially as a Mike linebacker, his length and feel in coverage should allow him to thrive.
Right now, at 6-2 and 205 pounds Kia lacks ideal girth to play immediately, but he has the kind of frame that should allow him to fill out quite a bit in time. In that regard, serving a mission could benefit him from a football standpoint by giving him time to allow his body to mature before his eligibility clock starts moving.
Despite a lack of girth at this time, Kia is strong and physical at the point of attack. Once he fills out his frame you can expect his power to become even more impactful.
Kia isn't an overly explosive athlete, at least not at this time. He's light on his feet and he's relatively fluid for a defender with his frame, but he's not someone that can overcome assignment or technique mistakes with great range or speed.
I'm of the belief that Kia is best suited for the Mike linebacker position in the Irish defense. He is a quality pass rusher, and with his instincts and power he should be an effective run defender, especially on stunts. His physicality suits the position, Mike is where his coverage skills fit best and his high football IQ is ideally suited for the Mike position.
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