Update: 2018 Four-Star ATH Talanoa Hufanga

March 19, 2017
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2018 athlete Talanoa Hufanga is one of the nation’s most talented prospects, and it comes as no surprise big-time programs want the four-star prospect on their campus. Notre Dame, Arizona State, Michigan, Nebraska, Oregon, Oregon State, UCLA, USC, Washington, and Wisconsin are just a few of the programs battling it out for the 6-foot-1, 194-pounder.

While the recruiting process can get stressful, the Oregon native is taking it all in stride and enjoying the opportunity to the fullest.

“My recruitment has been an amazing experience,” Hufanga told Irish Sports Daily. “You only get this once in your life. I am trying to take full advantage of it and enjoying every step of the way. I can’t complain at all. Not everyone is in his position, and I am just grateful for everything that has happened.

“The fact these big-time head coaches are able to talk to me over the phone or text me, it’s just crazy. You don’t expect it coming from a small high school in Corvallis. It’s an eye opener.”

Notre Dame has made Hufanga a major priority, and it comes as no shock that defensive coordinator Mike Elko and defensive backs coach Todd Lyght have made an early impression.

“I am trying to stay in touch with Coach Elko and Coach Lyght,” explained Hufanga. “They have constantly been checking in with me. They ask me how school and sports are going for me. It’s crazy to be able to talk to a coaching staff like that.”

The message from the Notre Dame staff isn’t complicated as they want Hufanga to be the quarterback of the defense.

“Coach Elko loves the style I play with,” stated Hufanga. “That’s what they want.
He wants me to be to the quarterback on defense. He wants me to come out to Notre Dame and run the defense. - 2018 ATH Talanoa Hufanga
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“Coach Elko is a great man too. He knows what he’s doing, and you have to be able to have a signal-caller in the defensive backfield.”

Hufanga lines up at just about every position one can on his film, but the pitch from Notre Dame is exactly what he wants to hear. The explosive athlete feels he can help at numerous positions, but having the responsibility of the defense is one Hufanga embraces. 

“It’s just something you want to hear when you’re getting into the recruiting process,” he stated. “Notre Dame is recruiting me as an athlete like most of the schools, but I do see myself fitting into the safety position as I get older and I am leaning towards playing it in college. Wherever the coach needs me, I will play whether it’s linebacker or safety. If they need me to go play quarterback or receiver, I am there. I am there to play as fast as possible. That’s one of my goals.”

When it comes to some other programs, it’s no surprise the local schools are coming hard after Hufanga. Oregon State is the hometown school, while Oregon has had success recruiting in-state as of late. 

“I live really close to Oregon State,” Hufanga said. “I visited them last week and got a good sense of them. I plan to visit Oregon soon. I plan on visiting Nebraska too.”

Hufanga isn’t forgetting Notre Dame, but that trip will likely wait until the official visit period kicks off. South Bend is a place Hufanga has heard a lot about and knows it’s a place he wants to experience. 

“I don’t know if I will be able to get out there on an unofficial,” Hufanga said of Notre Dame. “I will probably try to take an official, but I am not promising anything right now. I think visiting Notre Dame would be very beneficial for me to visit. It will open my eyes, and it will be good to visit another part of the country.”

As soon as I got my offer from Notre Dame, Markese hit me up right off the bat. - 2018 ATH Talanoa Hufanga
If Hufanga isn’t the top safety prospect on the board for Notre Dame, he’s close. Being at the top of the Notre Dame board also means you’re at the top of Markese Stepp’s board.

“As soon as I got my offer from Notre Dame, Markese hit me up right off the bat,” Hufanga said of the 2018 Notre Dame running back commit. “He told me they needed me in South Bend. ‘We need you now’ was his message to me. He said they were building something great there.

“It was cool to know he was watching me and had that view of me.”

Stepp isn’t the only Notre Dame commit on Hufanga, as a fellow Oregon native Braden Lenzy is making it quite clear the Irish want Hufanga in the blue and gold. 

“I am pretty good friends with Braden Lenzy too,” laughed Hufanga. “When he committed, he told me he was going to recruit me hard. He has been on me. He knows whatever I have to do is the best for me and he respects that, but there is no doubt he is on me.”

Hufanga plans to make a January commitment, and he will start to narrow things down in August. The plan is to come out with a top group at the end of the summer and take his official visits.

The official visits will likely be a crucial sticking point for Hufanga, and he already knows what he’s looking for on those trips.

“I want to have a good relationship with the coaches,” said Hufanga. “The one big factor is if I get injured while I am playing, I want to find a school that is the place for me. I don’t want to second-guess my decision if that happened.

“I want to find the perfect fit.” 

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