Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 19, 2020

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 42 of 55 SEPT. 19, 2020 43 PREP PROFILES Honolulu Punahou has been good to Notre Dame. Sophomore line- backer Marist Liufau hails from that school, but the most famous Irish football player from Punahou is Manti Te'o, a Heisman finalist and linebacker from 2009-12. Notre Dame is looking to add an- other linebacker from Punahou. Re- cruiting coordinator Brian Polian, who recruited Te'o to Notre Dame, offered class of 2021 linebacker Ka- hanu Kia on Sept. 1. "He said they have an opening at the linebacker spot, and I was the first person they thought of," Kia said. "He checked up on me every weekend, and he called to tell me they were still interested in me and want to get me an offer because they like the way I play. "It's Notre Dame. It's the biggest brand in college football. Getting that validated a lot of hard work, plus it's an opportunity to go to one of the best football programs in the nation. I was so excited." Honolulu to South Bend, Ind., is quite the trek, but the Hawaiian has plenty of connections to Notre Dame football that make the Irish an attrac- tive program. "When I was in kindergarten, Manti Te'o was the best linebacker in the nation," Kia said. "Going to pep rallies and seeing Manti was super cool. Coach Robby Toma [another former Irish player from Punahou] was our offensive coordinator two years ago, so that's how I know him. And two years ago, Marist Liufau was a senior when I was a sopho- more. He was tearing up the state, and I remember when he committed to Notre Dame. "The connection that plays the big- gest role is Marist. I knew him the best of all of those guys. To play with him again would be a really cool thing. That plays a big part." As a member of The Church of Je- sus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Kia plans to take a two-year mission trip, which would not affect his NCAA el- igibility clock. If he takes his mission right out of high school, he would come back to his school of choice in 2023 as a 20-year-old true freshman. He could also enroll at a college and then take a mission after a year. "I'm for sure going on my mission; that's a goal of mine," Kia noted. "As for when is up to the coaches." — Mike Singer Pickerington (Ohio) Central started its 2020 football season with a 35-9 triumph versus rival Pickerington (Ohio) North Aug. 30, and one of the stars of the afternoon was class of 2023 athlete Alex Styles, who has the nickname "Sonny" after Sonny Cor- leone in the movie "The Godfather." Shortly after the game finished, Styles added an offer from Ohio State, and then two days later, he earned a scholarship from Notre Dame. "It's been pretty amazing, pretty unreal honestly," Styles said of his new offers. "I wasn't expecting it all to happen this early." His father, Lorenzo Styles Sr., played linebacker for the Buckeyes in the 1990s, and Ohio State is the local school. To land that offer was a special moment for the sophomore standout. "I was in shock," Styles noted. "It took me the whole day for it to sink in that it actually happened." Styles' older brother Lorenzo Jr. is committed to Notre Dame as a wide receiver in the 2021 recruiting class. The Fighting Irish offer, which he received from wide receivers coach Del Alexander, was just as special as Ohio State for him. "My brother has a close relation- ship with him, and Coach Alexander was talking about how he was already familiar with me and what kind of people [we] are," Styles said. "They were waiting to see me play and were impressed with my upside. There's no telling how I'm going to fill out." Styles already stands 6-4, 208 pounds. He's quite the versatile pros- pect, and with his frame he could play anywhere from defensive end to safety at the next level. "[Ohio State and Notre Dame] both said how I can be a hybrid guy," Styles added. "Coach Alexander called it the rover position — outside linebacker and move around a lot." The dynamic in the Styles' house- hold has to be quite interesting, with Lorenzo Sr. an Ohio State alum and Lorenzo Jr. enrolling at Notre Dame in January 2021. "Lorenzo is going to want me to come play with him of course, but he wants me to go wherever is best for me — just like our dad didn't push him to go to Ohio State," Styles explained. "It'll be the same thing for me." Styles also holds offers from Indi- ana and Toledo. But with this "Sonny," he already has at least two other offers from Notre Dame and Ohio State that will be tough to refuse. — Mike Singer Notre Dame Looks To Land Another Linebacker From Hawai'i Younger Brother Of Irish Commit Earns An Offer "Shoot, it's Notre Dame. It's the biggest brand in college football. Getting that validated a lot of hard work, plus it's an opportunity to go to one of the best football programs in the nation. I was so excited." Kia on receiving a Notre Dame scholarship offer KAHANU KIA ✪ ✪ ✪ Punahou H.S. Honolulu Status: Offered Class: 2021 Position: Linebacker Ht.: 6-2 • Wt.: 205 Rivals Rankings: No. 9 player in Hawai'i ALEX STYLES Pickerington Central H.S. Pickerington, Ohio Status: Offered Class: 2023 Position: Athlete Ht.: 6-4 • Wt.: 208 Rivals Rankings: The 2023 class has yet to be rated

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