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Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 35 Marist Liufau, Hawaiian freshman linebacker


Listed Measurements: 6-foot-3, 200 pounds.2019-20 year, eligibility: A just-arrived freshman, Liufau has all four seasons of eligibility remaining, including 2019.Depth chart: Slotting Liufau at either Rover (more likely) or Buck linebacker does not change his status as a scout team defender.
Recruiting: A consensus three-star, Liufau’s recruitment reflected his Hawaiian pedigree. Schools familiar with island products generally want more of them, and with one notable exception, those schools are usually and logically West Coast-based. Thus, Notre Dame beat out the likes of USC, Oregon and Washington State for the No. 36 outside linebacker in the class, per Once Liufau had an Irish offer, his decision came pretty quickly, visiting for the Florida State game and committing within the week.

When Liufau signed with Notre Dame, it put a bow on another chapter in Irish recruiting coordinator Brian Polian’s successes in Hawaii. From Manti Te’o and Robby Toma to Kona Schwenke to Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa and even Alohi Gilman, Polian has found the rapport out in the Pacific to bring in frequent and valued contributors.

“Here is another young man that just fits our university, and we love his upside,” head coach Brian Kelly said on December’s National Signing Day. “He’s a guy that’s going to develop. He’s not ready to come in and start, but he is a guy that is going to develop into a great player here. Can’t wait for him to begin his time here.

“Utilizing Brian’s relationships there, just as a smart allocation of your resources, and then knowing full well that you’re going — we’ve had really good success with everybody that comes from the islands here and been really good players for us. So why wouldn’t we continue to move in that direction?”

“Notre Dame’s success rate — even more precisely, Brian Polian’s success rate — with Hawaiian recruits has created a bit of leeway, not that Liufau should need it. He looks every bit the part of a solid contributor, with length just needing some heft courtesy of a collegiate strength and conditioning program. He has some experience as a defensive back, making that half of his game further along than would usually be expected.”

Is no longer a concern with junior defensive tackle Darnell Ewell taking a medical hardship. As long as the Irish remained above the NCAA maximum of 85 scholarship players, Liufau was probably the first casualty, most likely by waiting a year before enrolling at Notre Dame. Neither Liufau nor the Irish coaching staff was ever much concerned about that, though, with good reason.

Liufau is yet undersized to be expected to contribute at linebacker, even at the hybrid position of Rover. That, along with the likes of junior Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and sophomore Paul Moala ahead of him, should essentially prohibit Liufau from snaps this season. His length and athleticism, however, could earn him some work on kickoff coverages. That could conceivably be a role that costs Liufau a year of eligibility, but it seems more likely he appears in no more than four games as a freshman.

Liufau’s high school work at safety — highlighted by an interception in the Polynesian Bowl — should keep him at Rover for the long haul. He is quite comfortable defending the passing game, making him nearly the linebacker/nickel back combination ideally sought from a rover, as difficult of a combination as that is to unearth.

Given Notre Dame’s and Polian’s track record with Hawaiian recruits, reasonable success should be expected from Liufau, no matter if Moala is just ahead of him and early-enrollee Jack Kiser is also projected at Rover.

WHY (hypothetically) NO. 32?
Just like with fellow freshman linebacker Osita Ekwonu, Liufau’s placement here in the numeric pecking order is mostly intended to land him amongst the linebackers who have embraced numbers in the 30s.

NOTRE DAME 99-to-2:
No. 95: Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle
No. 94: Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle
No. 91: Ade Ogundeji, defensive end
No. 90: Hunter Spears, defensive tackle, early-enrolled consensus four-star
No. 89: Brock Wright, tight end
No. 88: Javon McKinley, receiver
No. 87: Michael Young, receiver
No. 85: George Takacs, tight end
No. 84: Cole Kmet, tight end
No. 83: Chase Claypool, receiver
No. 80: Micah Jones, receiver
No. 78: Tommy Kraemer, right guard, three-year starter
No. 77: Quinn Carroll, offensive tackle, early-enrolled consensus four-star
No. 76: Dillan Gibbons, offensive guard
No. 75: Josh Lugg, offensive lineman
No. 74: Liam Eichenberg, left tackle, two-year starter
No. 73: Andrew Kristofic, offensive tackle, early-enrolled consensus four-star
No. 72: Robert Hainsey, offensive tackle, three-year starter
No. 71: John Olmstead, offensive lineman, early-enrolled consensus four-star
No. 69: Aaron Banks, left guard
No. 60: Cole Mabry, offensive tackle
No. 57: Trevor Ruhland, veteran backup offensive lineman
No. 57: Jayson Ademilola, defensive tackle
No. 56: John Dirksen, offensive lineman
No. 56: Howard Cross, incoming freshman defensive lineman, consensus four-star
No. 55: Jarrett Patterson, starting center
No. 55: Ja’Mion Franklin, defensive tackle returning from injury
No. 54: Jacob Lacey, consensus four-star defensive tackle, early enrollee
No. 54: John Shannon, long snapper
No. 53: Khalid Kareem, senior defensive end
No. 52: Zeke Correll, consensus four-star center, early enrollee
No. 52: Bo Bauer, linebacker, sophomore
No. 50: J.D. Bertrand, consensus four-star linebacker
No. 47: Kofi Wardlow, junior defensive end
No. 45: Jonathan Jones, senior inside linebacker
No. 44: Jamir Jones, senior defensive end
No. 42: Julian Okwara, senior defensive end
No. 41: Kurt Hinish, junior defensive tackle
No. 40: Drew White, junior inside linebacker
No. 39: Jonathan Doerer, junior kicker
No. 35: TaRiq Bracy, sophomore cornerback
No. 34: Jahmir Smith, sophomore running back
No. 34: Osita Ekwonu, inside linebacker, consensus four-star
No. 33: Shayne Simon, sophomore linebacker