Welcome back to “This Guy Plays Notre Dame Football”. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have a roster full of players, and we want to talk about them all. One Foot Down’s player profile series will take a look at every single one of them, and hopefully we all learn a little bit more about these guys, and Notre Dame’s chances for the upcoming 2019 season.
#13 Paul Moala, Safety/Linebacker
Moala came to Notre Dame from just a stone’s throw away in Mishawaka, Indiana. Moala was a member of the 2018 recruiting class after being a part of a Penn High School team that were the 6A state runner-up his senior year. He was also the IndyStar Mr. Football Defensive Back as a senior as well as the Northern Indiana Conference North Division Most Valuable Player.
Moala was named the No. 85 safety nationally and No. 12 player from Indiana by 247Sports, the No. 48 safety nationally and the No. 8 player from Indiana by ESPN, and the No. 20 player from Indiana by Rivals.
The local guy played in eight games as a freshman in 2018, mostly on special teams. He only registered one tackle, but definitely caught the attention of the coaching staff. Brian Kelly moved him from Safety to Rover this Spring. If you’re new here, Rover is basically a combo of a strong safety and an outside linebacker. In short: he’s big with potential to get even bigger and he can cover the field exceptionally.
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Because it’s still only the beginning of Moala’s career.
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Moala reminds us a of a Vizsla because this breed is a strong combination of size and speed.
Moala could compete for the starting spot at Rover with Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. Say what you want about spring games, but Moala looked like one of ND’s stronger defenders in that game back in April. He racked up nine tackles and two sacks in this year’s Blue-Gold Game. Whatever he’s been doing in the offseason, it’s clearly been working.
Moala seems comfortable enough in his new spot. A similar move worked out for Drue Tranquil. Barring injury or breakout from Owusu-Koramoah, it’s reasonable enough to expect Moala to have a decent presence in the coming season.
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Here’s one of Moala last highlights of his prep career in the Polynesian Bowl.