Prospect: LB Mason Tufaga
Projected Position: Linebacker
Status: SI All-American Candidate
Vitals: 6-foot-1, 220 pounds
School: Honolulu (Hawaii) Saint Louis
Committed to: Utah
Frame: Long frame with evenly-distributed weight throughout. Solid muscle mass in the upper and lower half with room to pack on more in the coming years.
Athleticism: Quicker than fast with great, efficient movement skill once target identifies himself. Some sideline to sideline ability with great closing speed and power. Lower-body explosion is evident in contact. Can redirect in the open field without considerable wasted movement.
Instincts: Patient approach through play diagnostic with an intriguing 0-60 phase thereafter. Strong motor through the first contact as well as in pursuit regardless of distance. Gets head around and finishes with great pad level and leverage. Volume tackler.
Polish: More efficient run-pass diagnosis would enhance his strongest physical traits. Does play under control despite aggressive style and enforcer tendencies in the box. Comfortable in space, especially playing outside in. Limited pass coverage samples but steady in pursuit with raw tools to play underneath zones and potentially flank a running back.
Bottom Line: Tufaga is a heat-seeking missile at the inside linebacker position with strong explosion downhill and from a lateral standpoint. He is advanced in the box with most elements of run defense, from shedding blocks with leverage and hand technique to fast-flowing through the hole with some pop. As his body physically matures and coverage comfort arrives, should be able to be a multi-year impact player at a high major program.