Prior to the inaugural National Preps Collegiate Showcase on September 26 at Granite Park in Fresno, we had a podcast a couple of days before the event with Brandon Huffman, one of the most respected high school football analysts in the nation and the National Recruiting Editor for 247Sports, a division of CBS Interactive, National Preps-Western Region/Texas Recruiting Director Gary Howard, and National Preps Western Region College Football Scout, Northern California, Nevada, Oregon & Washington, and St. Vincent de Paul-Petaluma head football coach Trent Herzog.
During the podcast the trio of experts went through the list of top prospects that would be attending, and when it came to Palma-Salinas offensive lineman Noah Pulealii everyone agreed he would be the top lineman the National Preps coaches and staff would guide through the regimen of drills.
Before the National Preps event in Fresno, Pulealii hadn’t had any live exposure to scouts and analysts since a Rivals camp in March, but after the performance he put on the UCLA-commit that is projected as a guard in college certainly did not look rusty. In fact, he was a runaway choice as the OL MVP of the Showcase.
“Obviously we haven’t been in football with our school so Getting out her and getting a chance to showcase my talents – it was great,” Pulealii said after the Showcase
Great indeed. In fact, Pulealii looked to be in great shape and was officially measured in Fresno at 6-3.5, 312-pounds with a 78-inch wingspan. He came into the camp as a 247Sports 4-Star recruit, the No. 16 ranked offensive lineman in the nation, and the top-rated OL prospect in California. Although Pulealii is not quite as high on some other recruiting lists, they all agree he’s one of California’s top OL college recruits.
His athleticism, footwork and lateral movement for a lineman was impressive as he seemed to effortlessly go through the drills.
He certainly impressed everyone that saw him in Fresno, including National Preps Western Region Scout for Northern California Paul Gregorian, who besides scouting and evaluating players at the Showcase is also the Showcase Field Director responsible for making sure all on-field drills are set up correctly, coached properly, and on schedule.
“Noah is very athletic for his size and has good bend/flexibility and moves very well in space/blocking second level defenders/sustaining blocks,” Gregorian said in a direct message on Twitter. “He also showed good strength with initial punch at point of attack and finishes blocks well/plays with good physicality.”
“He’s athletic enough to play offensive tackle at the next level but due to height will kick inside at UCLA, continued Gregorian. “Very impressive prospect that is now rated as a 4-star kid from 247. I had him rated as a Major D1 prospect when I first came across him/evaluated his film over a year ago.”
He also showed his strength at the Showcase when Noah dug in and anchored the offensive line in a dominating performance against the defensive line in the Tug-of-War competition.
“I use my athleticism, speed and strength to overcome being a little undersized for the next level, but right now conditioning is my main goal,” responded Pulealii as to what he fells are his best assets and what he’s working on right now.
Pulealii committed to UCLA back in late August and this is what he had to say when asked by Huffman after the Showcase why he chose to become a Bruin.
“I’ve been on campus twice, once for a UCLA camp and I’ve been on a school visit with my school. Coach Frye (UCLA Offensive Coordinator and OL coach) was a big deciding factor. My parents really like him. I really like him. The way he coaches up his players, the way he loves his players – and Southern California is my vibe. UCLA is where I felt I needed to be.”
With respect to his expectations and what Coach Frye has told him about his chances to crack the starting lineup Noah had this to say.
“I know I’ll have a chance to compete for that starting spot and that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I don’t expect any handouts or anything given to me. I’m going to LA and do my best and hopefully I’ll get a starting spot.”
Although Pulealii doesn’t think at this stage of the process he can graduate early and enroll at UCLA in January, whether or not he’ll play for Palma this winter is a question mark.
“It’s still up in the air,” answered Pulaelii when asked if he would be the Chieftains anchor on the line this upcoming season. “Probably fifty-fifty. I want to talk to Coach Frye, talk to my head coach (Palma’s Jeff Carnazzo) and my parents and get their feedback and what they have to say.”
Last season he was the only junior to be named Prep2Prep All Central Coast Section on the offensive line and the Palma faithful are certainly hoping to see him in a Chieftains uniform this coming season, blocking and blowing holes open against opposing defensive lines.