Speedy DE/LB set for Nebraska visit

A lot people look at their senior year as "the year". The year to rule the halls of school. How about returning as one of the most feared pass rushers in all of California only to break your leg and lose your final year of high school football. The injury may have hurt the body, but it didn't kill the spirit of this pass rushing demon.

You want size and you want speed at the defensive end or linebacker position? Look no further than Apaiata Tuihalamaka. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound prospect has 4.5 speed in the 40. His team is ready to head in to playoffs.

"The team is 7-2," Tuihalamaka said. "We have one more game until playoffs start, but we are already in. We clinched a playoff birth."

Unfortunately, Tuihalamaka hasn't had a lot to do with the team's direct success on the field through his play. Before the season even started it ended.

"I am coming back slowly. I got hurt early one. I broke my left fibula and had surgery. I did that about three months ago in practice. I haven't played at all this season."

Showing true character, Tuihalamaka has been there for his team through a tough senior year. Although injured, he is there to support his teammates. "You know it. I am out there all the time."

Despite missing the season, recruiting has been a full time process. Tuihalamaka just returned from an official from a PAC 10 school this past weekend.

"Recruiting is still keeping me busy. I just got back from an official to Oregon. It was fun. I got to see it on gameday and the stadium. Overall, it was just fun."

Beyond the Oregon visit, Tuihalamaka has the other four visits either planned or set. The next visit comes as early as this coming weekend.

"I am going to take all of my officials. I am going to see Colorado this Friday. Right after Thanksgiving I am going to see Nebraska. Then I am going to see Arizona in December and Miami in January."

"Apai", as he is called by his family, is looking for some key things on all of his official visits. "I am looking at the coaching staff and the players. I want to know if they are hungry. I am also looking at the environment and a place that feels like home overall."

Tuihalamaka played defensive end for Gardena (Calif.) Junipero Serra. As an end, he said that he was the complete package and could equally stop the run or rush the quarterback.

"I think that I do both well. I think that I am a good speed rusher and I can just take you down. I think that I also do a good job at taking care of my responsibilities."

"Most likely though, I will be playing linebacker in college. The teams like me because I can rush and blitz of course and I can cover. They like me as a SAM linebacker."

One of the biggest reasons that "Apai" projects to linebacker is because of his speed. While it did fluctuate a little bit, he was aiming to get his speed down in a range that running backs would be jealous of.

"I was working on my speed, constantly. It would go back and forth from 4.6 to 4.5. My goal is to get it down to a 4.4 time."

Through the pain of the injury, and the loss of his senior season, Tuihalamaka has realized some very valuable things about school and football. What is here today can just as easily be gone tomorrow. He will still get his chance to play college football and he wants to make the most of it.

"It's made me realize that football isn't everything and I had to get a handle on school. At the same time I am very fortunate to have teams still recruiting me. I will get my chance."

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