Notre Dame Commit Profile: LB Niuafe Tuihalamaka

Analysis of Notre Dame linebacker commit Niuafe Tuihalamaka

Notre Dame picked up a huge commitment from Mission Hills (Calif.) Bishop Alemany linebacker Niuafe "Junior" Tuihalamaka


Hometown: Mission Hills, Calif.
High School: Bishop Alemany

Height: 6-2
Weight: 230

IB Grade: 4.0 (Top 150 caliber player)
Upside Grade: 4.5

Offers: Notre Dame, LSU, Florida, USC, Texas, Oregon, Penn State, Stanford, UCLA, Tennessee, Nebraska, Arkansas, Colorado, Arizona State, Arizona, Oregon State, Vanderbilt

Recruited By: Marcus Freeman


ESPN: 4-star - No. 97 overall - No. 4 ILB
247Sports: 4-star - No. 120 overall - No. 14 linebacker 
Rivals: 4-star - No. 144 overall - No. 5 ILB
Composite: 4-star - No. 112 overall - No. 12 linebacker


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.

Sophomore Highlights


5.0 - Elite player
4.5 - All-American caliber player
4.0 - Multi-year starter
3.5 - Key role player / Late career-starter
3.0 - Backup

Irish Breakdown Content

Notre Dame 2022 Commits Big Board: Offense
Notre Dame 2022 Commits Big Board: Defense

2022 Big Board: Running Back
2022 Big Board: Slot Receivers

Notre Dame 2022 Scholarship Offers

Notre Dame 2022 Class Big Board

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