Notre Dame has a chance to land an elite linebacker class in 2022, and it's much needed for the Irish to do so. One of the best players on the board for Notre Dame is Mission Hills (Calif.) Bishop Alemany linebacker Niuafu Tuihalamaka, who put Notre Dame among his five finalists.
Texas, Oregon, Stanford and Arizona State were the other four schools to make the final cut for Tuihalamaka, who was previously committed to USC before de-committing shortly after receiving an offer from the Fighting Irish.
Notre Dame is considered the leader for Tuihalamaka at the moment, but there is still plenty of work to be done, as both Texas and Stanford are making a strong push for the talented middle linebacker.
Tuihalamaka is ranked as the No. 68 overall player in the country and the No. 3 inside linebacker on the 247Sports composite list. He is a consensus Top 100 recruit.
The 6-1, 230-pound linebacker has offers from LSU, Florida, USC, Penn State, UCLA, Tennessee, Nebraska, Arkansas, Colorado, Arizona, Oregon State and Vanderbilt.
Here is my film breakdown of Tuihalamaka:
"Tuihalamaka is a physically advanced player that checked in at 6-2 and over 230 pounds as a sophomore. He has no need to add weight, and moving forward it will just be about reshaping his body, adding more weight room strength and adding explosiveness.
"As expected, Tuihalamaka is a powerful young defender. He has a thick, strong lower half, which allows him to arrive at the football with force. His length and natural punch allows him to dismiss blockers with ease and also makes him a strong tackler. As his block destruction technique continues to improve his ability to dominate the run game should become elite.
"What wasn't expected, however, was how nimble Tuihalamaka is, and how effectively he's able to fit his big body through thin run lanes. He's not a fast athlete from a pure speed standpoint, but he's agile, far more fluid than I expected and he has impressive short-area quickness and explosiveness.
"When you combine that with his high-level instincts, Tuihalamaka is able to cover a lot of ground and get to the football in a hurry. It's impressive how effectively he times up blitzes and run stunts, and his decision making and instincts against the run are special. In that regards he reminds me a great deal of former Irish star Manti Te'o.
"The other surprising part of his game was how effectively he gets depth in coverage, and how well he reads routes and makes plays on the ball when playing zone. Tuihalamaka is a strong blitzer inside, and he has traits that should allow him to be an effective edge rusher, which adds versatility to his game."
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