Coach Brian Kelly received his 23rd verbal commitment for the 2014 class today from Tyler Luatua (La Mirada, CA - La Mirada). He is listed at 6'4"/230 lbs.
Luatua visited the Irish most recently for the USC game in October. He chose Notre Dame over Alabama (where his brother plays). He holds nearly 30 offers from across the country including USC, Texas, Ohio State, Florida State and Miami.
Recruiting Service Rankings:
ESPN - 4 star (#1 TE, #7 CA), 84 Grade (#76 Overall)
Rivals - 4 star (#13 TE, #39 CA), 5.8 Grade
Scout - 4 star (#13 TE)
247Sports - 4 star (#7 TE, #26 CA), 91 Grade (#240 Overall)
247Sports Composite Score - 4 star (0.9336), #146 Overall (#3 TE, #14 CA)
La Mirada (CA) Tyler Luatua - LB-TE #9 (via Maxprepssports)
#9 Tyler Luatua - Soph Season - Class of 2014 (via coachdiplock)
Luatua's impact as a freshman is largely based on what position he plays at the next level. Most experts insist that Notre Dame is recruiting him as a TE and expect him to play there in college. However, a few think that Brian Kelly and his staff are looking at him as a "jumbo athlete" (aka "big skill" in RKG terminology) and think he could play LB for the Irish.
As a TE, the depth chart is pretty stacked in front of him with seniors Troy Niklas and Ben Koyack along with sophomores Mike Heuerman and Durham Smythe. His early path to playtime could be similar to Niklas by starting at linebacker and earning early reps.
As a tight end, Luatua looks like a natural and can fill all the roles required-blocking, catching the ball in traffic, and lining up in-line, in the slot, out wide and as an H-back. His highlights show plenty of blocking skills, whether it is solo or combo blocks on defenders. He also does a great job getting to the second level with his blocks. He also shows that he does an excellent job of catching the ball with his hands-a skill that seemingly is in short supply.
As a defender, he often lines up with his hand on the ground as a combination DE/OLB. He plays downhill on the other side of the ball, whether it is filling gaps as a linebacker or rushing hard off of the edge as an end. He appears to rely too heavily on superior athleticism as a prep athlete on defense, which will need development and refinement in camp if he is to end up as a linebacker.
Whether he plays offense or defense (or both-who knows), Coach Brian Kelly and his staff are getting a phenomenal athlete who will be able to contribute throughout his time in South Bend.
Welcome to Notre Dame Tyler!