La Mirada (Calif.) High School 4-star tight end prospect Tyler Luatua verbally committed to the University of Notre Dame on Monday, Dec. 16.
The precocious player discussed his decision in more depth with Irish Illustrated's Jake Brown, hinting that his family preferred one of his choices over the myriad of others:
It feels pretty good right now. 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.
Luatua is the No. 3 rated tight end according to 247Sports.com's composite rankings and is the 146th-rated prospect in the country, which is a respectable standing given the specialization of his position.
That's especially so considering that Luatua was deciding between whether to go to South Bend or join Nick Saban's powerhouse at the University of Alabama.
Tom Loy of 247Sports.com highlighted those two programs as Luatua's top choices while also indicating that Irish wide receivers coach Mike Denbrock had put special priority on recruiting Luatua.
ESPN.com's scouting report (subscription required) sheds a bit more light on Luatua's skill set:
Can present a nice receiving target (experience at H) as he displays very good ball skills and the ability to consistently extend and snatch the ball away from his body. Has good body control to adjust to balls thrown off target and demonstrates the ability to pluck on the run.
In the end, head coach Brian Kelly landed the talented youngster, who is 6'4" and 230 pounds with exceptional athletic ability and the hands to be an excellent receiver at the collegiate level.
It helps that Notre Dame has had tight ends that have enjoyed recent success—most notably Tyler Eifert, who went on to be a 2013 first-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals.
Now Luatua will team up with massive 6'7", 270-pound tight end Troy Niklas, along with a fellow 4-star recruit in 2014 classmate Nic Weishar. He is also a viable pass-catching threat and is listed at 247Sports.com as 6'5", 233 pounds out of Chicago's Marist High School.
The future appears bright for the Irish offense. With tight ends being used as often as ever in passing games as weapons to exploit mismatches, it seems the upside for Luatua is very high.
Plus, quarterback Everett Golson has been readmitted to Notre Dame after being away due to a suspension for "poor academic judgment."
As for Luatua, it may be difficult for him to see a lot of snaps behind the physically formidable Niklas, but in two tight end sets, he could very well see a lot of action even as a true freshman thanks to his viability as a receiver.