Players out of Hawaii typically fall a bit under the radar simply because it's harder to see those players. Despite the fact that he is a four star player and rated among the top 250 prospects in the nation, after watching film on Kahuku (Hawaii) defensive tackle Kaniela Tuipulotu, he might still be underrated and is as impressive as any tackle we've seen in the West this year.
Tuipolotu, 6-2, 275 pounds is simply a man-child on film and every bit as impressive in our eyes as Cali standouts Brian Price and DaJohn Harris. The tackle has an explosive and powerful first step and is always moving up the field. He's able to take on a double team and still get a push up the middle and often times, beats the double team and makes the play on his own.
Tuipolotu has great strength in his upper body and in one play, is holding off a blocker with one arm and takes down the quarterback with his free hand. Equally impressive, another play shows the big tackle dropping in to coverage, picking off a pass and running 60 yards the other way for a touchdown and when we say running, we mean it- he looks more like a linebacker than a big lineman rumbling towards the end zone.
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The athlete is just so explosive and relentless and the kind of player who never takes a down off. He fits the term, 'playing through the whistle,' and has a great motor. He also has great lateral mobility and balance which helps him to really deliver a blow at the point of attack.
On the recruiting front, Tuipolotu is drawing major interst from a host of schools and claims offers from Hawaii, Utah, Arizona, BYU, Oregon State and Boise State. Two schools who have not offered but are showing interest top his list.
"I like all the schools that have offered me but my two dream schools are USC and Miami," Tuipolotu said. "USC is my favorite right now. Coach Sarkisian came to my school and I really like him a lot. I also talk to Chris Galippo (USC LB commit) a lot. We have the same trainer, Rick Hagedorn, and that's how I know Chris. Rick lives in Cali but does a week long speed camp here every year and he has helped me a ton."
Hagedorn raved about his time working with Tuipolotu.
"He has all the raw talent in the world," Hagedorn said. "I worked with him for just one day on his feet and get offs and by the next day he was killing people. This kid is incredible."
As for a time line on a decision, Tuipolotu said he's in no rush.
"I don't want to commit early right now," Tuipolotu said. "My plan is to take all my trips and take my time with everything. Tennessee is another school I like that I'm hearing from. Of the offers, I like Utah a lot and they have a lot of Polynesians on the roster so there would be a comfort level there. Right now, I just want to see who is interested and then once I have all my offers in, I'll be able to figure out what schools to visit."