Penn alum Paul Moala impressing early at Notre Dame
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - With the Blue-Gold game now come and gone, Notre Dame football enters an important summer stretch, as players make the necessary improvements to enter August camp in the best possible position.
One of those players is someone local sports fans have watched develop for years – Penn alum Paul Moala.
For so many local athletes, running out of the tunnel at Notre Dame Stadium may seem like a dream that's just barely out of reach. However Moala has made that a reality.
“It’s been a dream come true, honestly," Moala said after the annual spring game. "Watching these guys play as I grew up and being able to suit up for this team and play for them has truly been a blessing.”
Still, Moala has taken advantage of that blessing through dedication and perseverance.
While many in the area are outshined by the national talent playing in the shadow of the Golden Dome, Moala's high school career with the Penn Kingsmen was too good for the Irish staff to ignore.
"You’ve got to be smart and savvy," said head coach Brian Kelly of his expectations. "Paul is a smart player. He can sense and feel where the ball may leverage him and keeps it inside him.”
That confidence in Moala's abilities translated from the high school gridiron to his freshman season in 2018, where he saw the field sparingly on special teams by covering kickoffs.
“Not only on kickoff return do you get a feel for the atmosphere but also get a feel for the physicality of other teams," said the rising sophomore. "You feel how fast they’re going and how hard they’re going. To be able to get a feel for that is really important in my game.”
And even more important has been committing to the process of development.
“Fundamentals and just my key," Moala said of his checklist for improvements. "Making sure I’m in the right place at the right time. Doing things in my own time to focus up and be prepared for this fall.”
Now, a new challenge awaits at a new position.
Moala moves from safety to the rover linebacker position where he's competing against Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah for starting reps.
Though it seems the two will share rover duties, if Moala's past several months at Notre Dame are any indication, it could be another test he passes sooner rather than later.
“I feel pretty comfortable with him out on the field knowing he’s going to tackle the football," Kelly added. "He just needs to continue to grow and develop. He got his feet wet last year with kickoff duties, but I think he’s a kid you’ll see playing for us next year.”
“Competition is always fun," Moala said. "[I'm just] looking forward to playing with these boys and enjoying my time here.”