Washington failed to sign a single defensive lineman in the 2020 class.
But UW certainly hasn’t hesitated to address that position in the current cycle.
Voi Tunuufi — a 6-foot-2, 280-pound defensive tackle from Salt Lake City (Utah) East High School — announced a verbal commitment to UW on Sunday night.
He’s UW’s third verbal commit in the last week, joining three-star Hawaii defensive lineman Kuao Peihopa and three-star fullback Caden Jumper. The Huskies previously earned pledges from five-star quarterback Sam Huard and three-star cornerback Zakhari Spears as well.
“He brings a ton of energy,” 247Sports recruiting analyst Blair Angulo said of Tunuufi on Sunday night. “I love his tenacity. I love his versatility. He’s not the biggest player. He’s not maybe the strongest player, not the most physically imposing player. But he’s got a really, really impressive motor.
“He has the relentlessness and tenacity that you love to see from an interior defensive lineman. And when you put him together with Kuao Peihopa, who they picked up earlier in the week, that’s a really nice tandem there. They’re nice complementing pieces, especially after Washington wasn’t able to add any defensive linemen in the 2020 class. I think Tunuufi and Peihopa are really going to be able to feed off of each other.”
Tunuufi chose the Huskies over the likes of Utah, Arizona State, Michigan, Arkansas, BYU, Cal, Colorado, Minnesota and more. He’s ranked as a three-star prospect, the No. 4 recruit in the state of Utah and the No. 26 defensive tackle in the 2021 class by the 247Sports Composite.
“You can’t really teach his motor and his ability to get off blocks, and that’s going to really pay off when he’s able to do stuff inside and combat double teams and be a run-stuffer,” Angulo said. “With the whole package that he presents, he’s another guy — like Peihopa — we would have loved to have seen during the spring evaluation period (that was canceled because of COVID-19). Both of them are high three-stars that have the potential to see a rise in their rating at some point.”
Oh, and if East High School sounds familiar, there’s a reason for that as well. Current Husky defensive lineman Sam Taimani and outside linebacker Jordan Lolohea both signed with Washington out of the Salt Lake prep powerhouse.
Which is even more impressive, considering the proximity to one of UW’s Pac-12 rivals.
“East is literally right next to the campus at Utah,” Angulo said. “Those kids could walk from their high-school stadium and within a couple minutes be on the Utah campus. So for Washington to do that and repeatedly go into that school and try to attract some of the top players just speaks to the connections that (UW co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Ikaika) Malloe has been able to build there.
“I think UW offers a different perspective, a different setup for some of these players that still want to play Pac-12 football, still want to be surrounded by a lot of other players of the Polynesian culture. I think Washington has been able to build a Poly pipeline. And when you go out to East in Salt Lake City, that’s a school that repeatedly puts out really good players. So I think they’ve built a really good foundation there. It really speaks to the relationships and the connection that coach Malloe has been able to build with some of these players early on.”