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Notre Dame Football

Physicality Priority No. 1 For Notre Dame LB Marist Liufau

December 2, 2020

Marist Liufau had flashed at times this fall, but last Friday, the sophomore linebacker might have turned the corner as he gave the North Carolina offense significant problems. 

The Hawaii native finished with five tackles and a sack, but caused mass chaos all day with ferocious blitzing from his buck position. 

"I can't tell you exactly why, but I just know one thing that happened was I felt really comfortable," Liufau said. "I felt like I was playing free. I had a lot of fun. When I looked around, I did it for the guys around me and it motivated me to play my hardest." 

The 6-foot-2, 226-pounder wrecked running backs and interior offensive linemen all day, which has been an emphasis for Liufau since he was young. 

In fact, Liufau gives some credit to Asai Gilman (Alohi Gilman's father) for helping develop the mentality to be physical. 

"A lot of guys helped me, including Coach Asai," stated Liufau. "I got to train with him back at home. 

"One thing I think about myself, especially coming from Hawaii, I feel we have that chip on our shoulder as Hawaii players. We pride ourselves in being physical, flying around the field, hitting people and having fun while playing. I feel that can be evident at times." 

The impressive showing continued Notre Dame's trend of having various buck linebackers step up this year. Jack Kiser stepped up when Liufau and Shayne Simon were out against South Florida, while Simon stepped up against Clemson. 

The three linebackers and Jack Lamb all help each other and have a good relationship, which has allowed them to grow this fall. 

"Those two are great guys," explained Liufau. "We all have a tight bond. We all push each other to make plays. It's always respect and love from each other. There's never anything bad between us." 

That said, Liufau doesn't feel a specific player is better for different situations as he has the confidence he can get the job done. 

"I try to think how I could apply myself in a situation," Liufau said. "I never want to think of myself as unable to do something. These are all great guys in our linebacker room and I know every one of us can execute when the time comes."

At this point in his career, Liufau doesn't have a ceiling as he'll continue to gain experience and learn to become a more complete college linebacker. 

"I think having to adjust to the speed of the game and having to adjust my work ethic," Liufau said when asked about the challenges of college football. "There's a lot of great guys on the team, hardworking guys that really motivate me and inspire me to push myself even harder. 

"I know that things won't come easy and you have to earn every rep you're given."

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