Rivals100 LB Lists Notre Dame In Top Five
Mission Hills (Calif.) Bishop Alemany class of 2022 linebacker Niuafe “Junior” Tuihalamaka announced a top five of Arizona State, Notre Dame, Oregon, Stanford and Texas on Monday afternoon.
Missing from Tuihalamaka’s top group is USC, the school he was formerly committed to. He originally pledged to the Trojans in February of 2020 but in January, a couple days after Notre Dame offered him a scholarship.
There is currently a FutureCast pick for Tuihalamaka to land at Notre Dame from BlueandGold.com’s Mike Singer. The Fighting Irish are in a good position for the four-star prospect, especially after his recent Zoom call with Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly.
“It was more of a one-on-one conversation,” Tuihalamaka told Rivals.com last weekend about the call. “He was bringing up points where recruitment stands for myself, like Stanford being a big factor for me because it’s close to home. But he said even though it’s a five-hour drive to Stanford, it’s a five-hour flight to South Bend so he made a great point there.
“He said I could set the standard for the class of 2022 for the Irish.”
“The fact that the head coach is taking the time out of his day to not only talk to me but also my mom and dad is a big thing. It definitely shows where they stand with me so that’s a big thing for me and my family.”
Tuihalamaka grew up a big fan of former Irish linebacker and Heisman finalist Manti Te’o.
“Te’o led Notre Dame’s defense as a Polynesian,” he said. “I also grew up watching [former USC linebacker] Junior Seau. The legacy of Polynesian linebackers continues.”
Notre Dame has sent coaches to Bishop Alemany frequently in the past few years. Casey Clausen – the older brother of former Irish quarterback Jimmy Clausen — is the head coach at the school. With the Irish staff having been in the halls of his school, Notre Dame connections on his coaching staff and his fandom of Te’o, Tuihalamaka is familiar with Notre Dame, but there’s still much more for him to take in.
Rivals ranks Tuihalamaka as the nation’s No. 71 overall prospect and No. 1 inside linebacker, plus the No. 9 player in the state of California.
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