Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei four-star inside linebacker Solomon Tuliaupupu knows one speed, and that’s “go fast.”
While that speed does not work well for a middle linebacker in seven-on-seven, it has served him well enough on the field in pads. Tuliaupupu is the No. 1 ranked player at his position and the No. 25 ranked player overall nationally.
Old habits die hard for hard-nosed football players in a two-hand touch setting.
“I’m learning to work well with my teammates,” said Tuliaupupu. “Everybody has to be on the same page and we have to communicate as a defense.
“That’s a big thing in seven-on-seven. But you know, when that receiver comes across the middle… I’m sorry man, but that was just how I was raised. You go 100-percent and you make a play. As a linebacker, you make play being physical.”
Tuliaupupu ended up sitting out part of Sunday's Passing Down Best Of The West Tournament because of his physical play. That didn't seem to bother his team nor did it bother his competition.
College coaches from across the country will descend on Mater Dei High School this month to see Tuliaupupu in action. Tuliaupupu, five-star wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, four-star quarterback J.T. Daniels, four-star wide receiver Nikko Remigio, four-star offensive tackle Tommy Brown and about a half-dozen other Monarch players.
“So far, Miami, Arizona, Notre Dame, Duke… there’s a lot of colleges coaches coming through Mater Dei,” said Tuliaupupu. “I want to get out and see some schools too.
“Oklahoma is a school I want to visit. Georgia is a big one and so is Michigan. I’ll also save some dates to get out to USC and UCLA as well. I have a good relationship with both of those schools being in my backyard.”
Tuliaupupu didn’t make any spring practices at USC, although he remains in regular contact with Trojans linebackers coach Johnny Nansen.
“We talk linebacker assignments and what I need to work on to improve my game,” said Tuliaupupu. “I’m not entirely sure where they want, but when I went to their camp last summer, they had me playing SAM off the edge.
“I got to try that out some and then I also played MIKE where Cam Smith plays too. So really, I’ve played both (positions) in their defense.”
While Tuliaupupu is focused on spring ball at Mater Dei right now, the summer will bring with it more reflection on recruiting.
“I’m definitely taking note of all of these colleges and what they have to offer,” said Tuliaupupu. “In terms of narrowing a list, I don’t even know. That’s something I have to discuss with my family.”
Yet, USC does remain a school very much in the picture for Tuliaupupu as he progresses through the recruiting process.
“USC is about to hit the ground running next season,” said Tuliaupupu. “They have a lot of great players coming out of there and a lot of great competition comes from that.
“The coaching at USC is amazing, so I’m building that relationship with them as we go.”