“I’m 6-2, and around 220-pounds…well I’m probably closer to 215-pounds right now,” said Niumatalolo. “I play middle linebacker. I try to be physical with my style of play. I would say my strengths are in the box against the run.”
BYU is taking a closer look at Niumatalolo who will be on campus this weekend to watch BYU host Utah State. Niumatalolo has been on campus before, but he wants to return to Provo to take an unofficial visit during General Conference weekend.
“I guess, well obviously, BYU is really good at football, especially this year,” said Niumatalolo. “More importantly, my parents like it because they’ll support me on my mission, and I’m definitely going to do that.
“Another reason why I like BYU is because of the type of people that are there," Niumatalolo continued. "The players that play there have the same standards that I do. It’s just a place that will help me uphold my own personal standards, my church standards.”
Interestingly enough, former BYU defensive lineman and current Naval Academy defensive line coach Shaun Nua has been a big proponent of the young Niumatalolo.
“Well, I haven’t gotten a lot of direct recruitment from BYU,” said Niumatalolo. “It’s just mostly from Shaun Nua, who used to coach there, comes to me and talks to me. He tells me things that the coaches are saying, because he coaches with my dad at the Naval Academy. I hear a lot through my brother (Va'a Niumatalolo) also. I did hear that they were thinking about offering me at the All Poly Camp, but they wanted me to make it out so they could see me in person. BYU is definitely a huge interest of mine.”
As an assistant coach at Navy, Nua has personal ties to the Niumatalolo family. He’ll often times come over to the house where he’ll challenge young Ali’i Niumatalolo to a game of EA Sports NCAA Football.
“He’s doing really good,” Niumatalolo said. “He comes over all the time and I have beat him in NCAA everyone once in a while. He’ll come over some times and we’ll play.”
The two have become close friends off the field and talk candidly one with another. Nua has expressed to Ali’i Niumatalolo that he still thinks about his days of playing and being a graduate assistant at BYU.
“Oh, he says he loves it,” Niumatalolo said. “He says he misses BYU all the time though, so I know he loves BYU, but he’s doing good out here at the Navy Academy. Shaun is a really good guy and fun to be around.”
While Nua would like Niumatalolo to play at BYU, Ken Niumatalolo would probably like to see his son play for him at the Navy Academy. However, that’s not going to happen due to the after college obligation Navy has with their student athletes.
“I think my dad would probably like me to play for him at Navy,” Niumatalolo said. “I’m not going to though at Navy though, and it’s nothing against the Naval Academy or anything like that. It’s just the whole [military] commitment after you’re done playing football.”
However, Navy Head Coach Ken Niumatalolo is a fan of BYU, and Ali’i even catches his father cheering for the Cougars from time to time.
“Yeah, he cheers for the Cougars,” said Niumatalolo. “He does cheer and is a fan, especially now because my brother is there too now. He’s obviously a Navy fan being who he is, but, yeah, he cheers for BYU too.”
Niumatalolo will serve a two-year LDS mission after high school just like his older brother Va’a, who is currently playing at BYU. When Va’a returned home, young Ali’i was with him when the family took him to BYU to enroll as a student. Ali’i remembers what it was like and can’t wait to get back in Provo this year.
“Well, I’ve already seen most of BYU because of when we brought my brother down there,” said Niumatalolo. “When he came back from his mission we went through all the facilities just to tour him but I was there too. I’m excited to get back down there to see the program and see some of the coaches. There really isn’t anything too new I guess.”
As far as an update goes with his older brother, Va’a Niumatalolo came to BYU prior to his mission as a walk-on middle linebacker. Now he is on scholarship and is competing to earn playing time on the field.
“He’s doing good and he loves it down there,” said Niumatalolo. “He really loves it there. He always tells me how much he loves it and that I need to come there. He definitely has a big influence on me, and he always talks about the type of players that are at BYU. He talks about what it’s like in the locker room and how it’s just a place that fits our standards.”
Right now Ali’i Niumatalolo doesn’t have any scholarship offers on the table, but there are some high quality programs taking a serious look at him. Regardless of who it is he hopes he’ll have offers soon.
“There really are a ton of similar schools like Boston College, Wake Forest, Northwestern, Purdue, and Maryland,” said Niumatalolo. “Maryland and Boston College is recruiting me just as hard as BYU is, but no one has pulled the scholarship offer trigger yet so I don’t have any offers at this time. I’m hoping that will change soon though.”
TotalBlueSports.com will keep an eye on Ali’i Niumatalolo and report on his recruiting progress and his play for Broadneck High School.