'Mature beyond his years,' Kyngstonn Viliamu-Asa builds connections at Notre Dame football

SOUTH BEND — The smile on Niuafe “Junior” Tuihalamaka’s face said it all.
Notre Dame football’s sophomore defensive end sees no reason why Kyngstonn Viliamu-Asa, another four-star recruit from southern California, can’t follow in Tuihalamaka’s footsteps and play right away for the Irish in 2024.
Kyngstonn Viliamu Asa at Ohio State, Notre Dame game Sept. 3, 2022.
“He’s already mature beyond his years in talking to him,” Tuihalamaka said of the 6-foot-3, 230-pound linebacker who announced his nonbinding commitment on July 23. “If he comes in here, keeps the mindset that he already has, the sky is the limit for him.”
Known in recruiting circles as KVA, the hard-hitting standout from St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower, Calif., is rated No. 102 nationally by 247 Sports Composite. That makes him the highest-rated defensive commitment to date in Notre Dame’s 2024 recruiting class.
Like fifth-year linebacker Marist Liufau, whose parents share the same American Samoan roots as Viliamu-Asa’s, Tuihalamaka did his part to set KVA and his family at ease.
“He was just asking me about the transition,” said Tuihalamaka, a Granada Hills, Calif., product who played at Bishop Alemany High School. “What was my reason coming here, especially coming all the way from California? What am I getting out of coming here?”
USC and Ohio State were the other finalists for Viliamu-Asa, who played in the same youth football program as sophomore Irish cornerback Jaden Mickey.
“All the colleges he’s looking at, they’re pretty good schools as well,” Tuihalamaka said of KVA. “And they’re closer to home. But I told him the truth, laid everything on the table about what Notre Dame really provides and (what) some schools don’t provide at all, really. Other colleges will never match the brand of Notre Dame.”
Before committing in June of 2021, Tuihalamaka, now up to 6-2 and 254 pounds, went through the same agonizing process of college selection.
“My mom really wanted me to go to Stanford,” he recalled. “My brother and dad wanted me to go to Texas. I was pretty much the only one that really wanted to go to Notre Dame. I had to set the table: What are the reasons? Why is Notre Dame better than all these schools? And what’s the better overall outcome for myself in the future?”
Even after enrolling early in January of 2022, Tuihalamaka struggled emotionally.
“It was pretty hard coming here,” he said. “The first two months, I was really homesick. I was probably debating why I came all the way out here, especially with the cold weather, how hard workouts were. Mom was always asking me, ‘You sure you don’t want to come back?’ “
Tuihalamaka understands the hold sunny southern California can have on players from similar backgrounds.
“For Polynesians, we’re always family-first,” he said. “It’s God, family, school, football. It’s just hard for us to be able to leave home, especially having (years) over your head of your parents telling you, ‘Stay home. You don’t really have to go far.’ There’s Stanford, USC right there. Those different reasons make it hard for Californians (to leave).”

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