Brian Polian may have found the next great linebacker to come out of Honolulu (Hawaii) Punahou.
Irish fans know the first one well.
Former five-star prospect and Notre Dame great Manti Te’o is a graduate of the school.
During the spring evaluation period, Polian, Notre Dame’s special team’s coordinator and Hawaii recruiting expert, returned to Punahou to take a look at 2019 standout linebacker Maninoa Tufono.
Tufono, the first cousin of current Notre Dame freshman Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, eventually picked up an offer from the Irish, and said it was a huge moment.
“It was very exciting,” Tufono said. “I’m very grateful and thankful for not only Notre Dame, but for every single opportunity that I’m given to play at the next level and further my education. But it’s very exciting to know that I’ve got a scholarship to play at Notre Dame. It’s a great opportunity for me.”
The Irish connections don’t stop with Tagovailoa-Amosa and Te’o either. Tufono also plays under the father of Irish transfer safety Alohi Gilman, an assistant coach at Punahou.
“Everything’s great with Notre Dame so far,” Tufono said. “I’ve got a lot of connections there.”
Tufono said he’s learned a good bit about Notre Dame already through those connections, and is a fan of what he’s heard so far.
“I like how they run things over there,” Tufono said. “It’s faith, family and football.”
The young linebacker said that approach mirrors his upbringing.
“Growing up, my parents raised me to put god first,” Tufono said. “After that comes family and then comes what I love to do best and that’s football.”
Now that an offer is on the table, could Tufono follow in Te’o’s footsteps and make the journey from Punahou to South Bend?
According to Tufono, it’s certainly something to consider.
“Manti is a great role model for not only for my school, but for the whole state,” Tufono said. “He’s a role model for us football players here and he gives us an example that we can do great things coming from Hawaii. It’s great to know that Manti went to Notre Dame and I hope down the road I can talk to him more about it.”