November 1, 2010

Luatua enjoying dominant senior year

Nick Saban and his staff have continued to push past the traditional boundaries of recruiting for Alabama football and one of their top out of state commitments for the 2011 class thus far has been La Mirada (CA) offensive lineman Isaac Luatua. The 6-foot-2, 295-pound center prospect surprised many by choosing the Crimson Tide back in June and has since gone on to have a remarkable senior season.

"Isaac is our guy," said La Mirada head coach Mike Moschetti. "He's one of our captains but he's so much more than that to the team. He literally never comes off the field. He plays between 100 and 120 snaps per game. He's on the defensive line, plays strongside guard on offense, and he's on every return team and coverage team for punts, kickoffs and field goals."

"He's in the best shape of his life right now. Last year he played at 305 and now he's around 295. His stamina is better, he's a lot more athletic and he's able to give consistent effort on every play."

After a difficult start to the season, La Mirada bounced back to go 4-0 in league play and were able to seal a huge victory last Friday thanks in large part to Luatua's dominant run blocking.

"We had a huge game last Friday where we could basically put ourselves in position to win our league. We came out knowing we were going to run the ball and we really didn't try to hide it. We ran behind Isaac just about every play for four quarters and finished with 320 rushing yards. He was the player of the game."

"I can't put into words how much he means to this team and to this community, not only on the field but off the field too. He does everything right. He doesn't party, doesn't drink, studies hard. He's a 'yes sir, no sir' kind of kid and he's got a tremendous amount of respect for his coaches, his teammates and his family. When he's not practicing, he's either studying or in the weight room. That kind of work ethic is why he gets better every week."

When it came to choosing a school, Moschetti said he and his coaching staff advised Isaac to not limit himself to only West Coast programs and to keep an open mind about great programs elsewhere in the country.

"We have a pretty good mix of guys here on our coaching staff who played Division I football all over the country in all different conferences. We have guys who played in the Big XII, Big 10, Pac-10, and some of the smaller conferences too. Going into the process, kids usually want to focus on going to school in their hometown but we always try to explain to them that there's good football all over the country. When you grow up here, you kind of get brainwashed into thinking football was invented at Southern Cal."

"We told Isaac and all the rest of our kids that going to school away from home really helped us grow as men and helped us learn responsibility and sort of helped us discover who we were and who we wanted to be. When Alabama was here in the Rose Bowl back in January, I think it made a big impact on not only Isaac but kids all over Southern California. Isaac saw their fans around town and started to get intrigued about playing in the SEC. He realized how big a deal college football is to folks in that part of the country and I think it really appealed to him."

"We sent a highlight tape and made a few phone calls and I think Alabama didn't wait too long after they saw the film before they offered. He hasn't wavered one bit in his commitment. He loves Coach Saban, Coach McElwain and Coach Pendry. Isaac is one of those kids who believes his word means something and ever since he took that official visit for the Penn State game, he hasn't had a single doubt in his mind."

While Luatua's dominance has been consistent over the past two seasons, his biggest area of improvement this year, according to Moschetti, has been his leadership both on and off the field.

"One of the things he came in wanting to improve on this season was his leadership on the field. He used to come out and sort of quietly take care of business. He wasn't really much of a cheerleader. I wanted him to be more vocal this year and really take a more proactive approach to being a leader to his teammates. He has continued to improve his quickness and his athleticism but the changes he's made in the way he approaches his teammates during a game has been his biggest improvement."

Moschetti said he's confident that Luatua will find Alabama to be an excellent fit for both his skill set as well as for his attitude and work ethic.

"I think Alabama sees him as a center and he's got a little bit of experience with that because he's actually been making all the calls for the line from his guard spot this year since we have a new guy playing center. Isaac is very smart and offers that flexibility of being able to play multiple positions, which I know is something Alabama likes a lot with their linemen. Athletically, he's actually pretty similar to William Vlachos. Isaac's a littler taller but their physicality and their style of play is similar."

"I'm confident he'll make an impact at Alabama. I know I'll never have another player like him."

Luatua is rated the nation's No. 9 center prospect. He boasts a 350-pound bench max and a 550-pound squat max.

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