Notre Dame staff makes an exception by adding 2019 OLB Marist Liufau

Carter Karels
South Bend Tribune

With limited space in its 2019 college football recruiting class, Notre Dame has been hesitant to offer many more scholarships.

Marist Liufau was an exception.

The Irish offered the Honolulu Punahou outside linebacker amid his official visit for the Nov. 10 Florida State game. Just as ND was quick to offer Liufau on his first trip to South Bend, he quickly committed to the Irish on Wednesday.

Liufau, a 6-foot-3, 210-pounder, marks ND’s 20th commit. He traveled with high school teammate, 2020 recruit Alaka’i Gilman, brother of Irish safety Alohi Gilman, to Saturday’s contest. Former Irish players Manti Te’o and Robby Toma also attended Punahou High. Liufau has been selected to the 2019 Polynesian Bowl.

“He’s got really good instincts and good growth potential also,” said Tom Lemming, a recruiting analyst for CBS Sports Network. “He’s an athletic linebacker who can make plays and can run down ball players from behind. He’s better suited to play outside right now. He’s got long arms, quick hands and feet and a great first step.”

Another 2019 linebacker, Roswell (Ga.) Blessed Trinity Catholic’s J.D. Bertrand, unofficially visited last weekend and resided with the family of Kyle Hamilton, a 2019 commit. Bertrand has taken two unofficial visits this season but has yet to garner an offer from the Irish.

Asa Turner, another four-star 2019 linebacker from Carlsbad (Calif.) High, received an offer from ND on May 21, 2018. Committed to the University of Washington, Turner continued to earn interest from the Irish staff.

Liufau’s commitment, though, could have closed the door on Bertrand and Turner, although Liufau could end up as a defensive back. Two other linebackers are committed to the Irish — Royal Center (Ind.) Pioneer’s Jack Kiser and Charlotte (N.C.) Providence Day’s Osita Ekwonu.

247Sports and Rivals rate Liufau lower than Bertrand and Turner. Both label Liufau as a three-star, with 247Sports ranking him as the No. 28 outside linebacker and No. 447 overall player.

The 2019 Irish class ranks No. 8 on 247Sports and No. 11 on Rivals. USC, Hawaii, Arizona and Boise State were among teams to offer Liufau.

“He’s a pretty good prospect. He is probably a three-star-plus kind of guy,” Lemming said. “Because he is not quite a four-star, but a three-star-plus. A decent athlete who should get better as he progresses age-wise.”

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly watches during the Florida State game. The Irish won 42-13.