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Notre Dame Football Recruiting

Film Don't Lie | Niuafe Tuihalamaka

June 19, 2021
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“Old school” gets thrown around as a description far too often when describing athletes and I try to not use it as much as possible in my writing.

I try, but I can’t help but think that Notre Dame’s newest linebacker commit, Niuafe Tuihalamaka‍ , is a throwback kind of Mike linebacker. There are things about his game that any long time football fan would appreciate.

He joins Joshua Burnham‍ and Nolan Ziegler‍ to form an extremely strong group of commitments that the Irish have added this cycle.

Height: 6’2”

Weight: 238

Projected Position: Mike linebacker

ISD Grade: 91 (4-star)

National Average Grade: 92.3 (4-star)

What he does best:

Tuihalamaka is a missile as a blitzer. We’ve already seen how much Marcus Freeman likes to have his inside linebackers attack gaps and it’s something that Tuihalamaka is great at. He shows great timing as well.

via GIPHY

He’s a violent player. Block destruction feels like it’s not a descriptive enough way to describe the way he will blow up a back or tight end in pass protection. He uses his hands well to strike and shed too.

via GIPHY

Freeman likes to have his linebackers mugged up at times and Tuihalmaka is physical enough to handle it.

via GIPHY

One thing I thought he showed improvement with during his brief junior season was his quickness laterally. He has good recognition against the inside run and is efficient with his movement getting to the football.

via GIPHY

What he needs to improve:

He’s a bit stiff in his drops. He’s not the most fluid athlete and his change of direction skills are not great. Some of that can be overcome with intelligence and recognition, but he’ll need to be great in those areas to be a better player in coverage.

He does not have great speed. That is something that can be improved to a point and he’ll need to do so in order to be someone who can be used in all situations.

What’s his ceiling?

Tuihalmaka has the potential to develop into an elite defender against the inside run. He certainly can be a weapon as a pass rusher as well. It’s not out of the question that he becomes an outstanding two-down linebacker.

He’s someone whose physicality could see him competing early in his career and if utilized in the correct role, he could succeed very early as well. He has some deficiencies in his game, but his strengths are why he has the potential to be a multi-year starter and outstanding run-stuffer.

Who he could be:

Former Notre Dame linebacker Te’von Coney

 
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