South Jordan (Uta.) Bingham four-star Jay Tufele has looked at the USC roster and depth chart.
The No. 3 defensive tackle in the country and top defensive big man in the West knows that the Trojans have a big void with the departure of another Utah native — Stevie Tu'ikolovatu. He thinks that is a gap he could potentially fill.
“I know that their d-line class, they're in need of d-tackles and stuff this year, so that's a good thing,” Tufele said after U.S. Army All-American Bowl practice on Monday. “I'd love to make an impact wherever I go. And USC, if I get a chance to start as a true freshman that would be awesome.”
USC is looking at Tufele to play the nose tackle position in the middle of Clancy Pendergast's 5-2 defense that morphed into a 2-4-5 this season because of Tu’ikolovatu's presence and ability to push the pocket by himself.
Tufele has a strong relationship with Trojans’ defensive line coach Kenechi Udeze. Udeze is the first thing Tufele mentions anytime he talks about USC.
“Coach KU, man. He's an awesome guy, man. He knows his stuff and he's a players' man,” Tufele said. “He's really cool. You can talk to him any time, tell him anything. He's just always straight up with you.
“He gives you everything you want and everything you want to hear. He's honestly...I wouldn't say he's like a dad, he's like, I would say, like a brother.”
Udeze, Pendergast and the Trojans will have an opportunity to put the full court press on Tufele during the final home stretch of recruiting for the 2017 class. He will come to USC for one of his final three official visits during the month of January. He also plans to take officials to BYU and Utah after taking trips to Ohio State and Michigan in the fall.
“The coaches are awesome at all the schools, especially their d-line. They're really notorious for their d-line. That's what I like,” Tufele said before adding that Ohio State-Michigan and BYU-Utah both have great rivalries. UCLA and Notre Dame never made enough of an impact on Tufele for him to consider USC’s rivals.
Defensive tackle Jay Tufele (78) gets by a blocker in a one-on-one drill during U.S. Army All-American Bowl practice. (Shotgun Spratling | USCfootball.com)
Tufele has unofficially visited USC twice, but he wants to get a better feeling for the school environment.
“Shoot, I want to learn everything about USC honestly. I want to know how life is over there and everything, academically and just everything over there.”
He has confidence in the Trojans’ program going forward under head coach Clay Helton.
“USC has always been up there. I know they started out slowly this year, but they've always found a way to come out strong. They've done it every year. I know they're going to be good for a long time.”
Tufele is trying to show just how good he is this week at the Army All-American Bowl. He was interested in seeing how well he compares to the other top recruits in the country.
“I just want to see if I can compete with all them,” Tufele said. “It's just been awesome, man. Best experience ever. It's just been really...it's been a blessing honestly.”
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