After tracking elite ’19 linebacker Maninoa Tufono throughout the spring, Notre Dame pulled the trigger on an offer Friday night.
The 6-foot-3 ½, 220-pound prospect rates as the No. 1 ranked outside linebacker in the West, No. 4 at the position nationally and No. 47 overall in the 2019 class.
Notre Dame West recruiter coach Brian Polian has a strong history of success in recruiting the state of Hawaii. It appears he intends to continue luring top Hawaiian prospects to Notre Dame.
“I’m excited to be being recruited by Notre Dame,” Tufono said. “Coach Brian Polian came and visited me in the spring. When I got offered, I got a chance to speak with him to hear what Notre Dame is all about.”
During the spring evaluation period, Polian checked in on Tufono at Punahou School, the same program that produced former Irish star linebacker Manti Te’o.
“I’ve heard stories and I’ve seen what (Polian) has done with Notre Dame,” Tufono said. “Coach Brian Polian, I’m excited to get recruited by him and he’s a great coach, he knows what he’s doing and he’s been recruiting Hawaii and he’s building a pipeline to Notre Dame, including my cousin Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa who is there right now.”
Clearly, having a cousin suit up for the Irish in 2017 will be a strong factor for Notre Dame in their recruitment of the four-star backer.
“We actually talked about it and we’re going to talk more about Notre Dame,” Tufono said. “He’s excited about me getting recruited by Notre Dame.”
Aside from Tufono’s connection to Te’o and Tagovailoa-Amosa, the versatile linebacker has another Notre Dame connection through a member of the Punahou School coaching staff.
“I actually play for Alohi Gilman’s dad,” Tufono said. “He coaches with us. He helps out with the (defensive backs).”
Hawaii-native Alohi Gilman recently committed to transfer to Notre Dame from Navy. The Irish now have two Hawaiians on their roster and it’s clear they’re looking to continue that trend.
Notre Dame’s core values stack up nicely with Tufono and the way he lives his day-to-day life.
“The most important thing to me is the Irish mentality is faith, family, football and that’s how I grew up and how my parents raised me and how I love to live my life, putting God first and my faith first,” Tufono said. “Second, my family and third, doing what I love and that’s play football.”
Tufono took a recent trip to California for a family event. While in the state, he attended several college football camps.
“In Cali, I went to the USC camp, the UCLA camp, a satellite TCU and Utah camp and then I finished up my trip to Cali with a satellite Utah and Oregon camp,” Tufono said. “It was great because at the USC camp, I got the most valuable player award and it was great. I got a great experience. I got to put in work with some great coaches and it was just a great experience.”
Since his stop in California, Tufono added offers from Notre Dame and Washington to his list which includes: Dartmouth, Hawaii, Idaho state, Nevada, Oregon, Syracuse, UCLA, USC, Utah, Vanderbilt, Washington and Washington State.
Given Tufono’s promise on the football field and strength in the classroom, several offers will be coming his way throughout his high school career.
Tufono is thankful for the recognition but his junior season is his number one priority.
“Right now, I’m kind of just enjoying the recruiting process,” Tufono said. “I’m thinking about the Irish and all that but I’m really just focusing on my junior season. I’m going to talk about the Irish with my family and try to get out there.
“I’m just excited for any and every school that gives me an opportunity and I’m thankful to coach Polian and Notre Dame and the staff and coach Brian Kelly over there and I’m ready and going to enjoy the recruiting process and see what god’s plan is for me.”