One member of the USC Trojan defense says he would be “blessed” to suit up for the San Francisco 49ers. It’s not just because of the past Trojan representation already there, but to play with his rising star cousin Talanoa Hufanga.
Versatile and high motor defensive end Tuli Tuipolotu revealed after USC’s Pro Day on Tuesday, March 21 that scouts from the 49ers spoke to him. Tuipolotu, even drenched in rain, still did enough to impress the NFL representatives — as they saw him show off his get-off, spin move, hand usage in attacking the bags and also showcased his ability to react to the ball while dropping back into coverage as a way to shine a light on his versatility.
While there are a high number of NFL suitors speaking to him, there’s that thought process of potentially reuniting with his cousin “The Tongan Tiger” while also rejoining Drake Jackson on the line.
“If they get me, I’ll be blessed to go there — just to be around my cousin ‘T’ (Hufanga) and be with Drake,” Tuipulotu said to reporters after his workout. “But especially learn from Nick Bosa and all them. If I go there, I’ll be blessed. But I’m ready to go anywhere.”
Versatility Should Intrigue 49ers
As 49er fans have witnessed, there are defenders who line up in other areas — all in the name of creating mismatches and chaos across the line.
Tuipulotu was utilized in the same destructive fashion for the Trojans.
As a “heavy” defensive end, Tuipulotu still showed a knack for beating opponents off the burst and power combination as seen here versus Cal:
His strength after engaging with blockers is considered one of his primary strengths:
But his get-off alone can threaten a fumble for the offense, as proven here in the first set of clips from the 2022 Stanford contest:
Draft expert for nfl.com Lance Zierlein wrote how Tuipulotu is a “Defender possessing the rare blend of size, strength and athleticism to line up as an interior or edge defender in both 4-3 and 3-4 fronts.” Plus adds that “Tuipulotu plays with a go-go motor from the first snap to the last.”
But along with wrecking offenses across the different lineman techniques, he’s also taken charge of his health.
Tuipulotu Explains Body Transformation
Once thought of as a massive edge defender, Tuipulotu is now 6-foot-4, 268-pounds — shedding 22 pounds to prepare for the league.
More astonishing, he admits it was never his goal to get to that weight.
“No specific goal. I was just training, dieting and my weight just went down to 266. Today I weighed at 268,” he explained.
While he’s dropped in weight, he isn’t ruling out putting on pounds in the future especially if it’s what his future defense wants.
“But yeah, if I want to go up (in weight), I’ll go up. But right now, I’m just training. I don’t care where my weight is at,” Tuipulotu said.
He also doesn’t care where he gets plugged on the field — whether it means standing up and rushing or firing off from his three-point stance and causing disruption.
“I’m down to do whatever the team wants me to do. If they want me standing up and drop (into coverage), I’ll drop. If they want me to put my hand down and go inside, I’ll do whatever they want me to do. I did a lot of different stuff this past season, so whatever they want me to do,” he said.
But now, the 49ers have become interested in more than a Trojan, but a member of the 2022 Pro Bowler Hufanga’s own family tree.