On Tuesday, we got our first chance to sit down with new defensive line coach Tony Tuioti. He covered a lot of ground in his 30-minute session, from his excitement level for the first day of practice to how he plans to connect with players and his passion for stopping the run. One thing I was particularly interested in was his thoughts on recruiting especially given his background at Michigan as Director of Player Personnel before he coached at California.
That time at Michigan had to shape some of his own recruiting philosophies so what would Tuioti say that he learned while working with Jim Harbaugh in that role?
“Just being very transparent with recruits,” Tuioti remarked.
“Kids are getting pulled from every direction so it’s important to be very transparent. A lot of times when these kids are being recruited, they are looking for a reason to not come to your school. You have to be very detailed. If there are five schools they really like, they are looking for one school to mess it up to easily take them off the board. You need to be able to follow up and know the kid plus the coach. Also, everyone who is important in decision making. A lot of time it’s not going to just be one coach. It’ll be two or three coaches. That’s something I learned in that [role]. I know the philosophy here is very similar.”
Having grown up on the West Coast and equipped with a lot of coaching experience at Hawaii and Cal, it makes sense that Tuioti feels most comfortable recruiting in that region. He has lived and coached in Las Vegas. He grew up in Orange County and coached in the Bay Area. You could drop him anywhere in California and he could find players for Nebraska. Tuioti has relationships in Arizona plus friends and family in Utah.
When he goes on the road with a Nebraska polo on now, what he’s looking for in a recruit seems to line up well with the rest of the staff he joined.
“I’m looking for a young man that is passionate,” Tuioti said. “Not just passionate about the game but passionate about his goals in life. Number two, I’m looking for a guy that’s accountable. Accountable to his teammates and when I talk to coaches that he’s accountable about coming to school and the weight room. Then, is he relentless and tough when I watch the tape?
“When you put the tape on, you can tell how passionate someone is about the game based on effort. Is he mentally tough and physically tough? Those are all very important. Everyone is excited about practice one. Are you mentally tough during practice five, six or seven? Are you going to bring that same drive later? All of those things come into play but also is he productive? Character is the most important.”
Tuioti already recognizes that he will be looking for a different type of player to come to Nebraska versus Cal. First, bigger guys are needed that can be stout against the run. There is a fine line since you also need athletic guys to get after the quarterback, too. Second, he will be able to cast a wider net for prospects at Nebraska compared to Cal based on academic requirements.
There is a lot to like about what Tuioti brings to the table as a recruiter. I’m sure he’s also thrilled that Nebraska is hosting a national big man camp on Jun. 15, sponsored by Adidas.
Greg is the Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity and has covered Husker athletics since 2013. He has always had a passion for sports while growing up in the Chicago area. As he got older and had to hang up his cleats and sneakers, he realized his passion for sports went beyond just watching and attending games. He has covered many events from the Rose Bowl to championship boxing matches. If he’s not talking sports, he’s hovering over his grill. He is married to an amazing woman, Kim, and they have a dog that barks when Greg yells at the TV during games.