2018 Notre Dame Football Recruit Profile: Paul Moala
The Notre Dame football program got signed commitments from 21 players from 13 different states last month during the inaugural “early signing period.”
News-Sentinel.com sports reporter Tom Davis has been writing on the Fighting Irish for nearly two decades and is taking a daily look at each recruit leading up to the traditional National Signing Day (Feb. 7).
Moala burst onto the national recruiting scene a tad late, but when he did, he made an impression.
The Penn High School player (he did everything in helping the Kingsmen advance to the IHSAA 6A state title game in November) wasn’t offered a scholarship by the Fighting Irish until last summer following his exhibition of speed (he ran a 4.46 in the 40-yard dash) at the “Irish Invasion” recruiting camp and he accepted this fall to his pseudo-hometown team.
Playing for one of the most storied programs in the state, Moala made 67 tackles from his safety spot, along with recovering a couple of fumbles, forcing one, and picking off a pass.
Offensively, he caught a couple of touchdown passes, but it was on special teams where he just broke the opposition.
On five different occurrences, the 5-foot-11, 196-pound Moala returned kicks or punts for scores last fall.
He’ll get an immediate look next fall to contribute to the Irish special teams, if not on the field, as well.
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Moala brings a nice frame and size, with good physicality to the safety spot, which is where he is expected to play for Notre Dame. However, it is his eye-catching speed that got him on the Irish radar and that will be put to use immediately next fall on special teams.
He has good agility and could even get consideration at cornerback, as well.
Moala is simply a great athlete with lots of potential.
Moala climbed the rankings over the past year, as he ended up being named as the Indianapolis Star Mr. Football Defensive Back.
ESPN rated him as the eighth-best player from this state, while 247Sports thought of him as the 85th-best safety nationally. However, that was far below where ESPN had him listed (48th nationally).
Moala joins a deep and talented secondary that has a nice blend of youth and experience.
Notre Dame gains the addition of Navy transfer Alohi Gilman at safety next fall and veteran Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly has already stated that Gilman would have started last season if eligible.
In addition to Gilman, Irish starters Jalen Elliott and Nick Coleman return, as do Isaiah Robertson and Devin Studstill, as well as Jordan Genmark-Heath, D.J. Morgan and Nicco Fertitta.
Only Coleman and Fertitta will be in their final year of eligibility in 2018.
BRIAN POLIAN SAYS
“The one guy that nobody has mentioned that I love is Paul Moala,” Notre Dame recruiting coordinator Brian Polian said on National Signing Day in December. “A local guy here, how special is that? That we can find a player that ultimately we believe we can compete for a national championship with, that fits the academic profile and comes from 10 miles away.
“Whenever you can do that it’s great for your program, and he’s a wonderful kid with a great family. There are not a lot of young men of Polynesian descent running around South Bend, so it’s a unique story. It’s really cool.
“He’s a terrific kid, and you know that Irish Invasion, those summer camps, some of that is recruiting and some of that is ‘Hey, you want a chance? Come in and show us what you got.’ That was the kid in this class that came in and took advantage of a camp date and crushed it, and walked out and everybody was like ‘Not only can he do it but he’s our type of kid.'”
For more on college football, follow Tom Davis on Twitter at Tom101010 and on Facebook at Thomas Davis.