Sting Factor: Niuafe Tuihalamaka decommits from USC

When a major program loses a key recruit, Rivals.com takes a look at how big of a blow it is to the respective school, analyzing it from a local and national level. To quantify the “sting” of each decommitment, we assign a score from 1-10, with one being no big deal and 10 being a catastrophic hit.

THE STORYLINE

Niuafe Tuihalamaka committed to USC last February and it was a major pledge for the Trojans’ 2022 class, a big statement that coach Clay Helton and his staff could still land elite, local talent.

The Mission Hills (Calif.) Alemany recruit who’s ranked as the No. 1 inside linebacker in the 2022 class was committed to the Trojans for naerly a year – and he also saw five-star Korey Foreman and many high-end four-stars pledge to USC in recent weeks.

But it was not enough to keep Tuihalamaka’s commitment.

The No. 65 prospect backed off his pledge in recent days and while USC will remain under serious consideration it looks as if Notre Dame, Stanford, Florida and Oregon have now entered the fray in a major way as well.

Keeping local talent home has been a priority for USC’s coaching staff. The 2021 class is filled with top California players and 2022 is off to a fantastic start with five-star Domani Jackson and a few four-stars. But losing Tuihalamaka was not ideal.

He can still rejoin the class but many other power programs are giving chase now as well.

LOCAL REACTION

“It’s not unusual for such an early commitment like that to not last the duration of the recruiting process, but nonetheless it does sting for USC, which has otherwise been building strong momentum, closing well in the 2021 class by landing Foreman and getting a quick start to the 2022 cycle with the commitment of Jackson.

“It’s a setback as the Trojans have done a much better job in the last year convincing top prospects to stay home, and Tuihalamaka — out of nearby Bishop Alemany — is one of the most intriguing local prospects in this class. Furthermore, linebacker remains a position of priority for the program.

“Even though he was the first commit, Tuihalamaka also figured to end up as one of the most important 2022 commits in the end for the Trojans given his high-end potential at a pivotal position. All of that said, don’t count USC out just yet. The Trojans will respect Tuihalamaka’s desire to fully evaluate all his options, but they will also continue recruiting him aggressively and hoping he lands back in the class ultimately.” – Ryan Young, TrojanSports.com

STING FACTOR: 8

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NATIONAL REACTION

“I doubt Tuihalamaka ends up back in this class even though it’s early, as Stanford and Notre Dame and others have his attention. This is a loss because of the need at linebacker and his upside, but the way the Trojans are recruiting lately, they’ll be okay even if he doesn’t look back.” — Mike Farrell, National Recruiting Director, Rivals.com

STING FACTOR: 6

Source: Rivals.com

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