Notre Dame’s recruiting machine added an unexpected piece today when linebacker Marist Liufau became the 20th member of the 2019 class. The 6’3″, 210-pound Hawaiian wasn’t on the radar of any casual fans and, in fact, many more dedicated recruitniks. He was, however, just on campus for an official visit, so he was quite clearly on the staff’s radar. Perhaps of note is that he attends Punahou, which you might remember is Manti Te’o’s alma mater. Also Robby Toma’s, who happens to be Punahou’s WR coach now. Hmm.

Liufau is the second “diamond in the rough” linebacker in the class, joining Indiana’s Jack Kiser. Defensive coordinator Clark Lea has a lot of equity in the bank with Irish fans based on his coaching acumen. I’m willing to let him use that equity as collateral for an SBA loan, but… Well, payments are payments, dude.

We’ll have to see what this commitment means for total numbers in the class. 20-21 was seen as the upper bound no matter what, and we’re now there. The Irish are still recruiting DE Isaiah Foskey and may be in good position for him, although he’s not announcing until closer to signing day. Will the big season get some earlier guys interested all over again? Will there be room if they do try to rekindle things? Lots of stuff to watch.

Recruiting Service Rankings

247 Composite — 3 star (0.8566 rating), #899 overall, #61 OLB, #8 in HI

247 Sports — 3 star (88 rating), #447 overall, #28 OLB, #7 in HI

Rivals — 3 star (5.5 rating), NR overall, NR position, #10 in HI

ESPN — Not evaluated


In addition to Notre Dame, Marist Liufau also holds offers from Arizona, Boise State, Hawaii, Oregon, San Diego State, USC, Utah, Utah State, and Wazzu. He had taken an official visit to Boise and had assigned recruiters from Oregon, USC, and Wazzu, which I presume means those were his most serious suitors.


After watching his highlight reel, I get the sense the staff is taking Liufau as a potential WDE rather than an OLB given how much of his time he spends rushing the passer. His technique is virtually non-existent, so he’ll need a lot of work there. Even so, he shows an impressive array of natural moves – just on this reel I saw a pretty good bull rush, spin move, speed-to-power, swipe… And oh yes, straight speed off the edge. On the first several plays I thought, OK, maybe this kid has some potential. Then I saw the play at the 1:24 mark, and an eyebrow went up and I was officially intrigued.

On the play he shows excellent speed off the edge and an effortless dip under the blocker to get to the quarterback almost unimpeded. That, folks, is an explosive pass rush. If he can harness that and make it more the rule than the exception, we might’ve gotten ourselves a superbly disruptive player.


Liufau is going to need some work both in the weight room and the film room before he’s ready to play a meaningful role. I think he certainly has a lot of potential, however uncertain his future may be. I could see him getting spot duty as a sophomore and then moving into a timeshare in his junior year, much like Julian Okwara is in now. His floor is unknown but his ceiling is pretty high because the physical skills are there.

Welcome to the Irish family, Marist!