Oregon Ducks in top-5 for nation's No. 3 ILB Niuafe Tuihalamaka


Niuafe Tuihalamaka de-committed from USC on January 23rd, two days after receiving a Notre Dame offer.

Now a little over a month later, he has unveiled his top-five schools with the Trojans missing entirely from the list. Instead, Oregon, Notre Dame, Arizona State, Texas and Stanford all made the cut.

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The 6'1.5", 238-pound inside linebacker ranks as a composite four-star recruit for the 2022 cycle as the nation's No. 3 inside linebacker and No. 68 overall player. 247Sports itself ranks him as the nation's No. 5 inside linebacker and No. 83 overall player.

Either way, the Ducks are in the running for one of the country's best players but Notre Dame has both crystal ball predictions on 247Sports with confidence levels of a six. He had originally committed to USC in February 2020 but continued to receive offers and post social media graphics from other schools, such as this image from Oregon. 

Oregon offered the Bishop Alemany prospect in November 2019. Arizona State was his first offer in January 2019. Notre Dame, Texas and Stanford all offered while he was committed to USC. 

The Ducks have had some historic linebacker recruiting classes lately signing Justin Flowe, Noah Sewell, Keith Brown, Jonathan Flowe and more in the last two cycles. Linebackers coach Ken Wilson was recently promoted to Co-defensive coordinator. 


247Sports National Recruiting Analyst Greg Biggins projects Tuihalamaka as a Day 2 NFL Draft pick with a player comparison of Benardrick McKinney.

"Thick build and could grow into a defensive lineman by the time he hits a college field," wrote Biggins. "Extremely physical player, natural inside ‘backer who loves to hit and plays with a nice edge to his game. An effective blitzer who can rush the passer off the edge or right up the gut. A high motor player who plays with relentless passion and is a natural leader. Needs to continue to work on his speed, change of direction and quickness but is a natural athlete and looks comfortable playing in space or dropping in coverage. Does a nice job getting off blocks and shows the ability to make plays sideline to sideline. Projects as an impact upper tier Power 5 starter and future mid-high round NFL draft pick."

In 2018, Tuihalamaka had 68 tackles, one sack, four pass breakups, one fumble recovery, and two interceptions. 

If Tuihalamaka does commit to Oregon, he would join four-star linebacker Emar’rion Winston in the 2022 Oregon linebacker recruiting class.