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December 16, 2013

Luatua pulls the trigger

Three times in the day Notre Dame has added another player to the commitment column.

Four-star tight end Tyler Luatua went forward with a planned announcement today and chose the Irish over Alabama, another finalist. He joins linebackers Kolin Hill and Nile Sykes in giving a verbal pledge since Sunday afternoon.

"It feels pretty good right now," Luatua told Irish Illustrated on Monday morning. "My mom sat there and talked with them and she's happy for me. I'm with my mom and dad and my sister right now. They're feeling pretty good and my cousins are too. All my family wanted me to go to Notre Dame. They're happy for me."

Notre Dame now has 22 commitments total and two from tight ends. Four-star prospect Nic Weishar, a native of Midlothian, Ill., committed in April.

Luatua first emerged onto the Irish recruiting radar in spring 2012 when assistant coach Mike Denbrock made the trek to La Mirada, Calif., to watch a practice. Days later Luatua received a scholarship offer.

Several other programs gave chase before Notre Dame and Alabama emerged as finalists. Luatua's older brother Isaac just completed his third season with the Crimson Tide.

BYU, Florida State, Ole Miss, Wisconsin, Arizona, Arizona State, Auburn, Baylor, Cal, Florida, Georgia, Louisville, Miami, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Tennessee, UCLA, USC, Vanderbilt, Washington and Washington State, among others, all entered the race.

Over time, however, Notre Dame emerged as a favorite. It culminated in October when the Luatua family visited campus.

"My final two was Notre Dame and Alabama," Luatua said. "I changed my decision these last few weeks. I was going to Notre Dame then going to Alabama. I talked to my family about it and they said I'd have better chances at Notre Dame and I fit in with their offense. It was just talking to my parents this past week and my family too."

Luatua is the second Notre Dame commitment from California in this cycle, joining defensive end Matt Dickerson. Four-star wide receiver Michiah Quick and five-star safety John "JuJu" Smith are remaining uncommitted targets from the state.

Later this month Luatua will join Quick and Smith at the Under Armour All-American Game along with several Irish commitments. Offensive tackle Alex Bars, wide receiver Corey Holmes, offensive guard Sam Mustipher, defensive end Andrew Trumbetti and cornerback Nick Watkins are all slated to participate in the all-star game.

"I'm pretty excited to go out there and be with the other guys and some of the Notre Dame commits," Luatua said. "See them. I'll be out there with JuJu Smith and hopefully I can change his mind to go there too."

Smith visited South Bend with Luatua in October and is a close friend. The two had already communicated shortly after Luatua's commitment.

"He just sent me a text," Luatua said. "We have a group message with some of the other recruits ... they all wished me a happy birthday. I'm just trying to get JuJu to commit."




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