Notre Dame gets the letter: Consensus four-star linebacker Niuafe Tuihalamaka, former USC commit
Bishop Alemany High School; Mission Hills, Calif.Measurements: 6-foot-3, 230 pounds.Accolades: A consensus four-star recruit, Tuihalamaka is considered the No. 8 inside linebacker in the country, per rivals.com, and the No. 197 overall prospect in the class of 2022. He will play in the All-American Bowl on Jan. 8 and the Polynesian Bowl on Jan. 22.
Other notable offers: Tuihalamaka de-committed from USC nearly a year ago, after being committed to the Trojans for nearly a year. Right away, it looked like he would head to Notre Dame, but he waited to commit until he could visit South Bend in June, choosing the Irish instead of Texas, Stanford and Arizona State.
Projected position: Tuihalamaka has enough size he will remain at an inside linebacker position, but given the focus Marcus Freeman seems to have placed on linebacker recruiting in this class, it seems likely multiple inside linebackers could be needed at a time moving forward. In that case, Tuihalamaka and fellow signee Joshua Burnham could become a tag team.
Quick take: Tuihalamaka has had a college-ready frame since he was a sophomore in high school, yet he also has the athleticism to handle some work in coverage.
Short-term roster outlook: Between Bo Bauer and JD Bertrand, Notre Dame may have its starting inside linebackers for 2022, but Bauer has not yet confirmed he will return to South Bend for one more year. If he does not, then Bertrand will need all the help he can get after wearing down in 2021.
Long-term depth chart impact: With current freshman Kahuna Kia still expected to take a two-year mission, a hole will open in the depth chart behind Bertrand. Tuihalamaka’s body will be ready for that responsibility sooner than most underclassmen.
EARLY SIGNING PERIOD COVERAGE
Consensus four-star defensive end Aiden Gobaira
Consensus four-star safety Nolan Ziegler
Consensus three-star quarterback Steve Angeli
Consensus three-star defensive tackle Donovan Hinish, Kurt’s brother
Consensus four-star linebackers Jaylen Sneed and Joshua Burnham
Punter Bryce McFerson, former Wake Forest commit
Consensus four-star running back Jadarian Price
Tight ends Eli Raridon and Holden Staes
Consensus four-star defensive end Tyson Ford, the first commit to Marcus Freeman back in January
Cornerbacks Benjamin Morrison and Jayden Bellamy
Consensus four-star linebacker Niuafe Tuihalamaka, former USC commit
Consensus four-star receiver Tobias Merriweather, the only receiver in the class
Consensus four-star cornerback Jaden Mickey
Five offensive linemen complete Irish class of 2022, including quartet of four-stars