A one-time USC pledge, Tuihalamaka announced his pledge to the Irish over a final group that included Arizona State, Stanford, Oregon, and of course, Texas.
The Longhorns kicked the month off very much in the mix, with Tuihalamaka officially visiting the Forty Acres, and Texas certainly didn’t do anything to hurt its odds during his time in Austin.
Felt like home, I’ll be back Austin Texas— Niuafe Junior Tuihalamaka (@JuniorNiuafe) June 7, 2021
“I loved it there,” Tuihalamaka told 247Sports of Texas. “I loved the players and the coaches as well as the overall fit in the defense. The new staff is awesome and they want me to come in and be ready to play right away.’
However, Tuihalamaka toured South Bend the following weekend, and had rave reviews for the Irish, as well.
“They have been the most consistent with recruiting me this whole cycle and it was great to meet the coaches face to face,” Tuihalamaka said of Notre Dame. “Coach Kelly and Coach Freeman are great people and I love the academic feel out there and so does my mom.
“I loved the campus and the tradition out there, you can feel it. Like Texas, they see me being able to step in and compete for playing time right away at that inside ‘backer spot so I’m really excited about the opportunity both schools provide.”
While in Austin, Tuihalamaka tweeted that he’d be back to Texas, which would have been invaluable for the Longhorns as they played catch-up to Notre Dame, but none of that mattered after his trip to South Bend.
Tuihalamaka saw all he needed to see, and he’s now Brian Kelly’s latest commit.
Though the Longhorns finished on the outside looking in for Tuihalamaka, Texas remains in pursuit of top-ranked linebacker Harold Perkins, who’s fresh off of an official visit to Austin. Elsewhere, four-star Illinois product Sebastian Cheeks is now a strong possibility for the Longhorns following his recent official visit, and Texas remains in a favorable position with Tenaha linebacker Jeremy Patton.
As is, the 2022 Texas recruiting class includes a linebacker pledge from three-star Arlington Martin product Travel Johnson, ranks No. 5 nationally and headlines the Big 12.