Mason Tufaga, Utah Utes commit, selected for 2021 Polynesian Bowl

Ryan Kostecka

Over the past three years, Mason Tufaga and St. Louis High School has won the Hawaii high school state championships in football. 

Unfortunately due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tufaga won't have a chance to win that illustrious fourth state title as HHSAA announced that the football season would be postponed until January. By the time the state title game rolls around, Tufaga will be on campus at Utah preparing for the 2021-22 collegiate season.

While it may seem sad that his last memory of Hawaii high school football may be winning the state title at Aloha Stadium, Tufaga recently found out that he will have one more chance to suit up at the infamous Aloha Stadium.

Tufaga, as per no surprise, has been selected to participate in the 2021 Polynesian Bowl, an annual bowl game featuring some of the top seniors in the nation.

Tufaga is a kid who comes from a great high school in producing elite college-level talent, including former Heisman trophy winner Marcus Mariota of Oregon. While not the biggest of players right now, Tufaga tests off the charts athletically and is seen as someone who will easily put on good weight at the next level.

He's a game-changer in the middle of the defense and plays physical with a nasty chip on his shoulder. He's more of a downhill type of player, although he does have some coverage skills in the passing. Pairing him with three-star commit Trey Reynolds gives the Utes a sensation nucleus in the middle of the defense for years to come.

The Utes only signed one ILB recruit from the 2020 class in 3-star Sione Fotu — and with expected 2020 starters Devin Lloyd and Sione Lund draft eligible following the upcoming season, there is room for playing time.

Utah currently sits with nine verbal commits of the 2021 class, headlined by four-star quarterback Peter Costelli and now Tufaga. They currently sit at No. 10 in the Pac-12 and No. 74 overall in the nation.

Here's a complete breakdown by SI All-American director of recruiting John Garcia regarding what Tufaga can do at the next level...

Prospect: Mason Tufaga
Status: SI All-American Candidate
Vitals: 6-foot-1, 220 pounds
Position: Linebacker
School: Honolulu (Hawaii) Saint Louis
Schools of Interest: Considering Utah, Arizona, Colorado, San Diego State and more.
Projected Position: Linebacker

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.

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