NCF On The Trail: Tyler Luatua

Notre Dame is one of the most storied programs in college football, with a recruiting reach that spans nationwide. Since the beginning of the ESPN Recruiting Nation era in 2006, the Fighting Irish have experienced their fair share of ups and downs, but they have continued to make their presence known on the recruiting trail and brought some good talent to South Bend, Ind.

Below are Notre Dame’s top five recruits over this eight-year span, based on the prospect’s projection out of high school along with his actual college impact and production. Moving forward, the Fighting Irish could have some of their more recent recruiting targets compete for a spot on this list.

USC's recruiting resolutions for 2014 

December, 31, 2013
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A new year usually brings new aspirations. But in the recruiting world, hanging up a new calendar signifies the final stretch. It’s the beginning of the end.

[+] EnlargeAdoree Jackson
Miller Safrit/ESPN.comNo. 7 overall Adoree Jackson would be a big get for USC's coaching staff.
With national signing day just six weeks away, we take a quick glance at potential New Year’s resolutions for USC recruiting:

1. Sign an elite prospect

USC fans want both Adoree’ Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra) and John “JuJu” Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) to become Trojans, but either one would do, really. Whereas the 2013 class had the likes of Su’a Cravens and Max Browne as headliners, the current group lacks similar star power. ESPN 300 members Viane Talamaivao (Corona, Calif./Centennial) and Toa Lobendahn (La Habra, Calif./La Habra) are no slouches, but Jackson and Smith would certainly take the class to the next level. New head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff would like nothing more than to finish strong heading into spring practice and the ever-important 2015 recruiting cycle.


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Manziel or Winston? Prospects weigh in

December, 29, 2013
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- There are many topics of conversation among prospects playing in the 2014 Under Armour All-America Game. One of them centers around the past two Heisman Trophy winners.

On Saturday, upon checking in for the prestigious game, a number of prospects weighed in on a hot topic involving Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel and Florida State's Jameis Winston.

If they had to choose between the two, who would the players take as their college quarterback? Here are their responses:

[+] EnlargeMarlon Humphrey
Courtesy of IntersportNo. 9 overall prospect Marlon Humphrey likes how Johnny Manziel makes others around him better.
Five-star cornerback Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Al./Hoover High): Ah man, I think I’m going to have to go with Johnny Manziel. I just feel like he kind of made a team out of nothing. Jameis Winston is a great quarterback too, but he doesn’t have the scrambling skills that Manziel has. This year, you could tell that his teams defense wasn’t that good, the players around him weren’t as good, but he kept making his team better. He’s has the fight in him I would want on my team.

Florida commit and No. 20-ranked Dalvin Cook (Miami/Central High): I would say Jameis Winston. He’s really a pure quarterback, and I think he sets up things more for a running back than Johnny Manziel does.

Auburn running back commit Racean Thomas (Oxford, Al./Oxford High): I would probably pick Jameis Winston. The reason behind that is because he is more of a leader for a young quarterback, and I think he can make his team a more mature team. I really think he would be a great quarterback to play with.

Florida wide receiver commit and No. 28 Ermon Lane (Homestead, Fla./Homestead Senior High): Whew, I don’t know. I think Jameis Winston. I look at how both of them played as a freshman, and I like how Jameis Winston leads his team. He is also more pro-ready than Manziel.

Texas defensive end commit and No. 78-overall Derick Roberson (San Antonio, Texas/William J. Brennan High): I guess I would say Johnny Manziel. I like how he plays with his swagger and confidence the most, so I would probably say him.

Notre Dame commit and No. 76-ranked Tyler Luatua (la Mirada, Calif./La Mirada High): I would take Manziel just because of the way he plays. If he doesn’t have a wide receiver open, he can make plays himself. He can get the ball to his players if and when he wants to, but can also do it on his own when he needs to.

No. 38 overall John Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Long Beach Polytechnic High School): That’s a hard one. As of right now, I would go with Jameis Winston. Overall, he’s a great player. I think Winston has an awesome football IQ. Johnny had his year too, but I think Winston is just a great player. Outstanding.

Dylan Sumner-Gardner: Jameis Winston, man. I feel comfortable with Jameis Winston as my quarterback because he’s smart and accurate. Johnny is accurate too, but Johnny is Johnny. How he runs around, people may get nervous. I would just feel more comfortable with Jameis as my quarterback.

No. 22 overall Laurence Jones (Monroe, La./Neville High): That’s a hard one right there. Let me think ... maybe Johnny Manziel because I don’t think I’ve ever seen a white boy get down like that. It would have to be Johnny Manziel.

Penn State wide receiver commit Chris Godwin (Middletown, De./Middletown High): I think Jameis Winston. I think overall he’s a better passer. I want a quarterback back there that can get me the ball on a consistent basis, but Johnny Manziel is a great player, too. I’m actually a big fan of both of them.

Five-star and Virginia defensive tackle commit Andrew Brown (Chesapeake, VA
Oscar Frommel Smith High)
: Dang, that’s a good question, man. I would go with Jameis Winston. His leadership qualities, coming in as a freshman and doing the things he is doing is definitely uncommon. It just foreshadows what he is going to do in the future, too. He’s already established a great foundation for himself, and I would definitely take him in the future.

Maryland commit Will Ulmer (Washington, D.C./Saint John’s High): I’m going with Johnny Manziel. I think he’s more dynamic, and more of a game-changer. Jameis Winston is a great quarterback too, but you have to think about all the dudes he has around him at FSU -- all the great receivers and good running backs. I would go with Manziel because if you put him on the Florida State team, or a stacked team like that, it would be a scary sight.

Irish TE commit Luatua wants to see USC 

December, 28, 2013
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ORLANDO -- Let the season of indecision begin.

Tyler Luatua (La Mirada, Calif./La Mirada), the No. 1-rated tight end nationally who committed to Notre Dame on Dec. 16, said he’s interested in looking more closely at hometown USC.


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Early Offer: No doubting OSU's Meyer 

December, 17, 2013
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The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: Ohio State moves up three spots in the RecruitingNation Class Rankings after the addition of five-star linebacker Raekwon McMillan, but the Buckeyes aren’t done in the South yet; Notre Dame also moves into the top 10 after landing the nation’s No. 1 tight end; and the NJCAA All-America team features a number of well-known recruits.

Ohio State makes Southern push
Shortly after Ohio State landed five-star linebacker Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County), I asked on Twitter if it’s time to stop doubting Buckeye coach Urban Meyer’s recruiting efforts. Of course, fans from other schools all over the country jumped in and said the jury is still out (and several other things that aren’t safe for print). But even then the biggest Meyer critics might have to change their minds if he is able to also land No. 4 receiver Johnnie Dixon (Palm Beach, Fla./Dwyer) in the next couple of days. The Buckeyes currently have the nation’s No. 8 class and have some major momentum heading into the final push.

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ESPN 300 TE Luatua picks Notre Dame

December, 16, 2013
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With four tight ends making significant contributions to NFL rosters, Notre Dame is doing everything it can to chase down Stanford as the present day Tight End U.

The Fighting Irish took another step toward that goal on Monday, grabbing a commitment from ESPN 300 tight end Tyler Luatua (La Mirada, Calif./La Mirada).

[+] EnlargeTyler Luatua
Tom Hauck for Student SportsTyler Luatua, the No. 1 tight end in the ESPN 300, is a big commitment for Notre Dame.
Luatua, the nation's No. 76 overall prospect and No. 1 recruit at his position, whittled his choices down to Alabama and Notre Dame, before announcing for the Fighting Irish on Twitter on Monday morning.

Early on in his recruitment, Luatua was split between Alabama -- the school where his older brother, Isaac, attends and plays football -- and USC -- the hometown favorite. But even before the Trojans faded in their recruitment of Luatua, Notre Dame made a significant impression and grabbed virtually all of his attention. He took an official visit to see the Fighting Irish beat the Trojans in mid-October, and though he also attended Alabama's big recruiting weekend in early November, it wasn't enough to unseat Notre Dame, which built a solid relationship with the 6-foot-3, 243-pound tight end and had been his leader for a significant amount of time.

Luatua's commitment doesn't only give Notre Dame a big-time player at a position in which they continue to build strength, it's also another outstanding California prospect making their way to South Bend, Ind. In the 2013 class, Notre Dame was able to swoop in and grab four-star safety Max Redfield away from several Pac-12 programs. In 2014, Luatua joins four-star defensive tackle Matt Dickerson (San Mateo, Calif./Junipero Serra), who held offers from Oregon, UCLA, USC and Washington.

He joins a tight end group that is getting a significant influx of talent. Four-star tight end Nic Weishar (Chicago/Marist) is part of the 2014 class, and four-stars Mike Heuerman and Durham Smythe signed with Notre Dame in the 2013 class.

Luatua is commitment No. 23 for Notre Dame. He is the eighth ESPN 300 prospect and the 15th four-star commitment. He is also the No. 2 prospect in the class, behind only offensive tackle Alex Bars (Nashville, Tenn./Montgomery Bell Academy), who is ranked No. 51.

Scout's Take: Tyler Luatua to Notre Dame 

December, 16, 2013
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video Tyler Luatua (La Mirada, Calif./La Mirada), the No. 76 player in the ESPN 300, committed to Notre Dame on Monday morning, announcing his decision on Twitter. As the nation's No. 1 tight end, Luatua should have a big-time impact on the offense in South Bend.

How will Luatua fit in Brian Kelly's system? Let's break it down:


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Pac-12 class rankings analysis 

December, 4, 2013
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There was some good news for the Pac-12 in the updated class rankings released on Wednesday as Arizona, Arizona State and Oregon all moved up. The Wildcats maintained their grip on the top class in the conference and now sit at No. 18 overall. The Sun Devils jumped two places -- from No. 24 to No. 22 -- largely on the strength of a commitment from four-star running back Demario Richard (Palmdale, Calif./Palmdale), and in doing so, leapt Stanford for the No. 2 spot in the Pac-12. The Cardinal slid two spots, down to No. 25 overall, while Oregon remains the fourth conference team among the top 40, up to places to No. 30 overall. Here's a look at the conference's rankings. Insider

Trending up: In the 2013 class, Arizona State didn't sign and enroll a single four-star high school prospect. With Richard's commitment on Monday, the Sun Devils now have eight in their 2014 class. While Richard is the first commitment since mid-November, Arizona State's on-field performance has recruits buzzing about the future of the Sun Devils and with a win this weekend, coach Todd Graham will have an opportunity to close out this class in a big way.

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Weekend recruiting wrap: Pac-12 

December, 2, 2013
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Rivalry weekend brought plenty of excitement to the Pac-12, but it didn’t produce much recruiting activity aside from a few official visits. There were plenty of interested eyes across the West region, though, as UCLA knocked off USC for the second consecutive season, Arizona State reclaimed the Territorial Cup, and Oregon and Washington held off their in-state rivals.


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Recruits react to UCLA's win over USC 

December, 1, 2013
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Many of the area’s top recruits were on hand at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum where UCLA claimed a second consecutive victory over crosstown rival USC on Saturday night.

The long list included ESPN 300 prospects Adoree’ Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra), John “JuJu” Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) and Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), as well as No. 1-rated tight end Tyler Luatua (La Mirada, Calif./La Mirada) and four-star linebacker Dwight Williams (Gardena, Calif./Serra).

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UA game jersey tour: Tyler Luatua

October, 21, 2013
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Senior tight end Tyler Luatua (La Mirada, Calif./La Mirada) was presented his honorary game jersey during the American Family Insurance Selection Tour for the 2014 Under Armour All-America High School Football Game at La Mirada High School in La Mirada, Calif., on Thursday.

Luatua is one of 90 players selected to compete in the seventh-annual game. The 2014 version is set for 4 p.m. ET on Jan. 2 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., and will be televised on ESPN.

"First of all I would like to thank the Under Armour staff for coming out here for this ceremony, Luatua said. "I would like to thank all of you guys for coming out, too. I would like to thank my parents and all the coaches for all they have done for me. I wouldn't be in this position if it wasn't for them. I would like to thank all the coaches over here starting from my freshman year."

La Mirada coach Mike Moschetti told the student body at La Mirada that Luatua's selection to the UA game is the first for the school.

"A lot of you don't realize this, but this is a really big deal," Moschetti said. "It's the Under Armour All-America Game, it's in January, it's in Florida, and La Mirada has never had a football player invited to such a prestigious all-star game like this. Tyler has done everything we have asked, and we have been lucky and blessed to be able to have the Luatua family around La Mirada High School."

Luatua revealed his reasons for accepting the invitation.

"I heard it's a pretty prestigious game -- televised all through the week during practice on ESPN," Luatua said. "It's a very prestigious channel. It's pretty exciting to know I could get coached by past NFL and college coaches who coached players in the NFL and college, and to be able to compete with the best players in the nation."

The 6-foot-3, 243-pound Luatua is the No. 68 overall prospect and the No. 1 tight end-H in the class. He is considering Ole Miss, Notre Dame, Alabama and Wisconsin.

USC recruits to visit Notre Dame 

October, 17, 2013
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A midseason visit to South Bend, Ind., last season convinced Max Redfield,, then a USC commit, that Notre Dame was the place for him. The same trip nearly swayed longtime Trojans fan Chris Hawkins, too, as the Fighting Irish laid out the golden carpet on their way to securing the No. 4-rated recruiting class.

This season, USC will have an opportunity to offset the infamous glow when some mutual targets take their official visits to Notre Dame. A Trojan victory would not only boost recruiting, but also deal a blow to the rival’s efforts.

Top offensive line priority Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), who grew up rooting for USC, will be in attendance after taking his first official visit last weekend to Wisconsin.


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Best Big 12 recruiters 

October, 15, 2013
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Editor's note: For a look at the national recruiter power rankings based only on Class of 2014 success, click here.

The best college football coaches will tell you that when it comes to recruiting, their business is an art. It’s a craft you must perfect if you want to have the best players commit and ultimately sign. Recruiting isn’t for everybody, but those who are good at it -- particularly for building the 2014 class -- should be recognized, as the business is extremely competitive.

Here are 10 of the top recruiters from the Big 12.


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SEC 2014 recruiting scenarios 

October, 8, 2013
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With signing day still several months away, schools will add and in some cases lose committed prospects. Here is a look at the best and worst case scenario for each SEC school.


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Josh RosenBlair Angulo/ESPNESPN Junior 300 quarterback Josh Rosen is a big target for USC, which has struck out on 2014 quarterback prospects so far.

BELLFLOWER, Calif. -- Before leaving the USC campus on Friday night, interim head coach Ed Orgeron told reporters it was time for the staff to become visible on the Los Angeles recruiting scene. He and assistant coach Tee Martin wasted no time following the evening practice session, heading directly to Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco for an intriguing matchup against Los Angeles Crenshaw.

Upon arrival, Orgeron did everything short of kissing babies.


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