football Edit

Notre Dame Getting Selfless, Technically Sound Player In Devin Aupiu

Notre Dame has six commitments in its 2021 class that were previously committed to other programs.

The latest “flip” for the Fighting Irish is Oxnard (Calif.) Pacifica defensive end Devin Aupiu, who previously pledged to UCLA in April but switched his allegiances to Notre Dame on Dec. 9.

The 6-5, 225-pounder, who Rivals ranks as a three-star prospect, was happy with his UCLA commitment. Other Power Five schools would reach out, but Aupiu would politely decline. He’d be invited to photoshoots with other top prospects to raise his profile too.

But Aupiu didn’t see the value in those things.

“He said, ‘I have nine offers and I love the ones that I have. I don’t need to do anything more than that,’” recalled Pacifica head coach Mike Moon. “He’s one of the humblest Power Five kids I’ve coached in my 20 years. You typically don’t get that from those type of kids.”

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Oxnard (Calif.) Pacifica defensive end and Notre Dame commit Devin Aupiu
The 6-5, 225-pounder is the Irish's 24th commitment of the 2021 class.

The Notre Dame coaching staff started expressing some interest in Aupiu in September, but it didn’t get serious until mid-November.

The Irish coaches are very up front and honest with recruits and their high school coaches. Aupiu and Moon were informed that they were waiting on another defensive lineman’s decision, which was Highland Springs (Va.) High’s Kelvin Gilliam Jr., who decided to stick with his Oklahoma pledge.

“He didn’t commit to Notre Dame, and then Devin got the offer,” Moon said.

Aupiu’s scholarship offer from Notre Dame came the day prior to Thanksgiving. It only took Aupiu about a week to decide that he wanted to call South Bend home for the next few years. He plans to ink with Notre Dame during the early signing period which begins Dec. 16 and then enroll in late-January.

“Obviously, Notre Dame is a huge school,” Aupiu said. “It’s a staple of college football, and with the season they’re having now, it’s just insane.”

The first time Aupiu will step foot in South Bend will be when he enrolls at the University. Aupiu has not left the state of California but a couple of times in his life, and he’s going to a faraway school in a cold state. But Moon notes that his star player intently weighed the options before making a decision.

“He’s put so much thought into this,” Moon explained. “He made a pros and cons chart – UCLA on one side and Notre Dame on the other side. He’s not too worried about the cold. He wants to see different places and travel all over the country.”

On the football side of things, Aupiu fits what Notre Dame wants in an edge player – long and athletic. His selflessness is a big plus as well.

“He knows how to compete and do what’s best for the team,” added Moon. “The coaches are going to love him. He’s technically very sound, whereas a lot of those freaky, athletic guys are all going off brute strength. Football-wise, he’ll be fine. He’s not going in there expecting that he’s going to be the man. He knows he’s going to have to put on size and get in the weight room.

“He’ll be fine academically too. The big difference is that Notre Dame is farther away from home and it’s colder.”

Moon describes Aupiu as a “student of the game.” That is in large part due to his family background in football. His grandfather, Miller Aupiu Sr. was the 1983 and 1984 Ventura County Defensive Player of the Year, while his father, Miller Aupiu Jr. was the 2003 Pacific View League Player of the Year. Both played quarterback and defense for Oxnard (Calif.) Channel Islands during their respective prep careers.

Aupiu Sr. and Aupiu Jr. had Division I talent but had children while still in high school and were not able to play big-time college football. They coached Aupiu from a young age and played a big role in his development in being a tactician at defensive end.

“He understands the game at a higher intellectual level than most kids coming out of high school,” Moon said. “We could really tap into that as a high school coaching staff. Not only is he athletic and long, but he studies a lot of film and goes into the game knowing what the offense is going to do. That’s a huge advantage.

“He’s a leaner guy, but he can get off blocks well. He’s a physical kid; he grew up tough in this area. He’s not a soft four- or five-star guy. He gets after it. If you train to run away from him, he’ll run you down because he’s a track kid too. He has a lot of tools that help him be successful.”

During his junior season in 2019, Aupiu led Pacifica to its first-ever CIF 2A state title. In leading his squad to a 15-1 record, the new Irish commit totaled 62 total tackles, 21 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, 12 passes defended, two forced fumbles and blocked a punt. During his sophomore year in 2018, he totaled 50 tackles, three tackles for loss, eight sacks, five passes defended and one forced fumble.



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