Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa signs with Las Vegas Raiders as undrafted free agent
SOUTH BEND – Notre Dame was hoping to make it four straight years with at least one defensive lineman hearing his name called at the NFL Draft.
Instead, Saturday evening it was Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa who landed with the Las Vegas Raiders as an undrafted free agent. The 6-foot-2, 270-pound defensive lineman impressed scouts with his production, versatility and leadership ability.
Former Notre Dame defensive line coach Mike Elston (now at Michigan) had seen five of his proteges selected in the previous three drafts. A pair of fifth-rounders went last year in Daelin Hayes (Ravens) and Ade Ogundeji (Falcons), and in 2020 it was fifth-rounder Khalid Kareem (Bengals) and third-rounder Julia Okwara (Lions).
Learning behind the likes of current NFL standout Jerry Tillery, a first-round pick in 2019, Tagovailoa-Amosa quickly became known for his run-stuffing prowess.
Named a team captain last August, the honor came after Tagovailoa-Amosa had returned to Ewa Beach, Hawaii for a week of mourning after the sudden loss of his father, Tuli, who died Aug. 8 at age 53. The lineman dedicated the season to his father’s memory and had a game-clinching sack a month later against Toledo on the same day he would join his family by FaceTime for a memorial service.
Invited to February’s East-West Shrine Game along with Irish quarterback Jack Coan, Tagovailoa-Amosa impressed evaluators during the week of practices in Las Vegas.
He also performed well at the NFL Scouting Combine in early March, where he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.81 seconds and showed a vertical leap of 29 inches.
Versatility is Tagovailoa-Amosa’s calling card after he shed 15 pounds to make an offseason switch from tackle to end after the 2020 season. He responded with a strong showing as a graduate player, recording a career-high 25 tackles and tying a career-best with six tackles for loss despite missing the Virginia game in mid-November due to illness.
After signing as a three-star recruit in the Class of 2017, Tagovailoa-Amosa took it upon himself to gain weight. He reported at 290 pounds and was immediately moved inside to defensive tackle.
He finished his college career with 50 games, 79 tackles, five sacks, 17 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries.
What they’re saying
“I think (it’s) the versatility with him. He fits a lot of various schemes. He would be in that 12-13 range (at defensive tackle), and you just stack them on the board at that position, which would put him in a mid- to late Day 3 (draft status). I think he makes a football team. He could certainly be a rotation guy for you.”
– ESPN senior draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.
Golden Notre Dame moment
In a 55-0 Senior Day romp over Georgia Tech last Nov. 20, Tagovailoa-Amosa celebrated his final game at Notre Dame Stadium with a 70-yard fumble return for a touchdown.
After defensive end Isaiah Foskey knocked the ball out of quarterback Jordan Yates’ hand, Tagovailoa-Amosa scooped up the football and rumbled the rest of the way. He picked up a downfield block from Foskey, switched arms with the football about 25 yards into his jaunt and threw a pseudo stiff-arm on Jackets running back Jordan Mason.
The house call came with 4:50 left in the third quarter and capped the day’s scoring. It also soothed the lineman’s disappointment from a 2019 fumble return against Virginia that fell 7 yards shy of the end zone when the Cavaliers’ quarterback tackled him from behind.
“He wasn’t quite fast enough, so we always made fun of him for that,” defensive tackle Howard Cross III said. “Just seeing him do that (against Georgia Tech), it was really crazy and everyone loved that. I knew as soon as he took it, he was definitely going to make this.”
Tagovailoa-Amosa also had two quarterback hurries and blocked a field goal at the end of the first half against the Yellow Jackets.
Five Things to Know
1 — Cousin of Miami Dolphins quarterback and former Alabama star Tua Tagavailoa.
2 — One of seven permanent captains for Notre Dame’s 2021 season.
3 — Seeking to join Vikings receiver Myron Mitchell (2021) as active Myrons on an NFL roster. Past NFL Myrons include: Baker (1993-97), Bell (1994-2001), Dupree (1983), Guyton (1989-95), Lapka(1980-83), Lewis (2010-12), Pottios (1961-73) and Pryor (2009-11). Pottios played linebacker at Notre Dame.
4 —Took an injury redshirt year in 2018 after suffering a broken right foot in the season-opening win over Michigan. Rehabbed and returned to play in the College Football Playoff loss to Clemson.
5 — His parents served as pastors at the Message of Peace Ministry Outreach in his native Ewa Beach, Hawaii. His maternal grandfather was High Chief Seu Tagovailoa, a church elder and founder of the youth football league in which Tagovailoa-Amosa starred.
Staff writer Mike Berardino covers Notre Dame football for the South Bend Tribune and NDInsider.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBerardino.