Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Paul Moala All In On Move To Rover

April 16, 2019

Paul Moala started his spring at safety, but quickly made a move to Notre Dame’s rover position. The 6-foot, 210-pounder took a ton of reps as the second-team rover and it’s a move Moala embraced as soon as he was told. 

“It intrigued me a lot because I knew the position would require a lot more physicality,” Moala stated. “That’s something that would play to my strengths. I was really excited about the move.” 

Former Notre Dame captain Drue Tranquill made the same move during his time in South Bend and Moala admits the linebacker room watches film of how he played the position. 

“We watch film on him every day to see how physical and aggressive he was at the point of attack,” explained Moala. “He’s a role model to look at in this position. He plays fast, hard and physical. I’m trying to model my game after that.” 

Moala led the Irish in tackles during Saturday’s Blue-Gold game with nine, including eight solo tackles. Head coach Brian Kelly praised the Mishawaka (Ind.) native for his strong tackling, but it had also helped the moment wasn’t too big for him. 

“Special teams last year and being able to play gave me a feel for the atmosphere,” explained Moala. “I got used to the crowd noise and being able to play full speed with opponents. I think that’s really helped me adjust to playing actual defense and being prepared mentally and physically.

“I’ve learned a lot not just at my position, but from these coaches and life lessons. They’ve done a really good job of helping me become a better man.” 

The spring game might have lacked the excitement and authentic atmosphere of Notre Dame Stadium or The Big House, Moala felt Saturday was a step in the right direction for him and other young players. 

“I feel like being able to play under pressure in that atmosphere and to be able to execute your calls and reads is big,” Moala explained. “Come game day, it’s going to be 10 times more people than that, so you have to be ready to get those jitters out and be ready to play on game day.” 

Moala will now turn his attention to putting on a little bit more weight for the season, which could be fun and challenging. Tranquill played the position at around 230 pounds in 2017, while Asmar Bilal was at 225 a year ago. 

“I see it more as a balance between both” Moala said. “Maybe putting on some weight and trying to convert that into muscle. I’m excited to get to work with Coach (Matt) Balis.” 

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