Despite an impressive stat sheet, strong camp performances, and solid measurables, three-star safety Paul Moala of Mishawaka (Ind.) Penn has been flying under radars throughout his high school career.
But Moala blew away the Irish coaching staff on Saturday night, posting an eye-popping 4.40 in the 40-yard dash.
Before Moala left campus, the coaches asked to have a word with him.
“Coaches just told me to stick around because I could be getting some great news,” Moala said. “I really thought they'd just say that they'd keep an eye on me but when coach (Brian) Kelly offered, I was in shock and disbelief.”
The Moala family are closely connected to former Irish star Manti Te’o and receiver Robby Toma. As a result, Moala has held the Irish football program close to his heart.
“(I’ve) dreamt of a big day like this since I was 10.”
Kelly had some strong advice for Moala to help keep his priorities in order.
“The great thing about the offer was coach Kelly telling me to focus on the school aspect more,” Moala said. “It grabbed my attention.”
Moala was impressed with the camp portion of the event, especially the coaching that he took in.
“Camp was great, I took in a ton and really enjoyed myself down there,” Moala said. “Coaches were just great to be around.”
Prior to earning an offer from Notre Dame, Moala’s top offers were Iowa, BYU and Hawaii.
Considering his admiration of the Irish, the likelihood of a future commitment is strong.
“(I’m) really excited to be given the opportunity, blessed and humbled to have been given such a blessing,” Moala said.
Moala had a strong junior season, racking up 63 tackles, seven interceptions (returning four for touchdowns), nine pass breakups, two forced fumbles, three kick return touchdowns, and three blocked kicks.
After receiving an offer from Notre Dame, Moala will likely receive offers from other strong programs, giving the Irish stronger competition for his commitment.
In the end, if Notre Dame pushes for Moala’s pledge, there’s a good chance they will add him to their class.