Irish show interest in local safety

Paul Moala has strong connections to Notre Dame via a former All-American. Now the three-star safety has hit the Irish recruiting radar. He hopes that interest will continue.

Mishawaka (Indiana) Penn High School safety Paul Moala has been flying under-the-radar, despite putting together a strong junior season and showing strong traits during the one-on-one portion of The Opening Regional in Chicago this spring.

Scout ranks Moala as the No. 1 safety in Indiana after he finished last season with 63 tackles, seven interceptions (four returned for touchdowns), nine pass breakups, two forced fumbles, three kick return touchdowns and three blocked kicks.

“Moala is a favorite of ours,” said Scout Midwest Football Recruiting Manager Allen Trieu. “We are very surprised he does not have more offers. He has good size, solid speed and very good all around athletic and positional skills.”

The 6-foot-1, 190-pound defensive back has ties to a few big names around Notre Dame.

“When (Manti Te’o) first came down here, his family needed someone to watch over him and they found out about our family being Polynesian and saw that we went to the same church as Manti,” Moala said. “So, we took care of him and Robby Toma throughout their first few years at ND. Just dropping off food to their dorms and inviting them over for dinner. Our families are close so we just say we're basically cousins.”

After moving to Indiana in grade school, Moala became a fan of the Irish during the Charlie Weis years after becoming close with that pair of Hawaii natives.

“I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and moved to Indiana in 2007 and as a kid, only dreamt of going to Notre Dame,” Moala said. “Then I became more of a fan when Manti and Robby were down there because we were like family.

“They treated me and my siblings like we were their siblings. But I've always loved football since I first touched a ball but I was always too young or too small so that set me back a bit. But my family always believed me and my brother were the ones to pull us out of the struggle so we carried on with our dream.”

With his senior year approaching this fall, Moala is receiving attention from the coaching staff of the program he’s always admired.

“Coach (Mike) Elston told me about attending the (Irish Invasion) camp and how great it'd be for me and benefit me so I'll most likely attend that one,” Moala said.

Irish Invasion won’t be the Moala’s first trip to campus.

“I've been to Notre Dame games in my life,” Moala said. “The atmosphere is great with all the screaming fans and football history ND has supporting it. To be honest, the 574 is a crazy place to be at on Saturdays when the Fighting Irish play.”

Currently, Moala holds offers from Ball State, Bowling Green, BYU, Utah State, Indiana State, Northern Illinois and Western Michigan.

An Irish offer would be a game-changer for Moala’s recruitment.

“Notre Dame would definitely be one of my top schools on my list,” Moala said. “Notre Dame would receive a ton of interest from me for sure and I'd make it my top priority to learn more about the ND football program and all they have to offer.”

“My decision date will most likely be towards the beginning of my senior season.”

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