Penn senior Paul Moala discusses commitment to Notre Dame football
Notre Dame's drubbing of rival USC had many thinking about the future of the current team, but in an atmosphere like the one at that game, the groundwork can be laid for long after the season as many top recruiting targets for the Irish were in attendance.
One of those, was Penn High School's Paul Moala.
"I thought it was going to be a wild weekend," said Moala this week, "but it was really organized and I just loved the way that they presented themselves."
The senior has been a standout at the safety position for the Kingsmen, leading them to yet another NIC title this fall. However, with offers from schools all around the country, Moala chose to commit to Notre Dame, saying family came first in his decision.
"We had a lot of opportunity here," he said, "so it was just great to know that I could stay somewhere that would set me up for the next 40 years of my life, and so close to home."
That sort of humble mindset is exactly why his high school coach Cory Yeoman sees Moala as a perfect fit at the Golden Dome.
"A very deserving young man," said Yeoman. "He's worked extremely hard to get to where he's at, both on the field and off the field. Notre Dame's going to get themselves a heck of a football player and an even better person.
"He's one of those guys that every now and then as a young player you see a flash. You say, 'wow, that's what it's supposed to look like.' It's been a pleasure to coach him."
While all the other factors would have been enough, Moala said a certain friendship he made put Notre Dame over the top.
That friendship was with former Irish linebacker and captain Manti Te'o.
"We took care of him when he was a freshman and sophomore here," said Moala. "He used to come over and have dinner with us and whenever his family was in town, we took care of them. To have them supporting me and being in my corner when I made my decision, it was truly a blessing to have them there by my side and supporting me all the way."
Though he has been the star of the Penn High School defense, he said he is ready to take on any role asked of him at Notre Dame.
"[I'm ready to do] whatever it takes to be able to help the team," he said. "Whether it be scout team, I wouldn't mind, but I'm willing to do whatever it takes to play on this team and stay on this team."
With the recruiting process wrapping up, Moala said he's excited just to focus on making another deep playoff run in his final year of high school football.
That run began on Friday night as Penn beat Valparaiso, so Moala and his teammates will have a shot to win Penn's fifth straight sectional title next weekend.