By: Cam Smith, USA TODAY High School Sports | October 17, 2016
Jay Tufele is an absolutely prototypical defensive tackle. At 6-foot-3 and roughly 300 pounds, he has the size to jam the middle against rushing attacks. Add in his 4.90 40 speed and remarkable athleticism, and it’s clear why Tufele is so hard to stop … and why opposing offenses have such a hard time keeping him out of the backfield. He’s like a high school Haloti Ngata (that’s his idol) with faster wheels.
Those traits are also what earned Tufele an invitation to compete in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, which he accepted gladly at Utah football power Bingham High on Monday.
“It felt like a dream,” Tufele told USA TODAY from his Bingham High stop on the U.S. Army All-American Selection Tour, presented by American Family Insurance. “I’ve always watched the game since I was younger, being able to know that I can play in it is a blessing man. My family, all my friends were there. The school was there. It was big, and really awesome.
“Getting invited is the biggest thing. Just getting ready for that game, getting time to get to know some of the players on my team and getting ready for the game, it’ll be exciting.”
The Miners star made it clear that he was excited about the competition he will face in January, which will serve as continuation from his current focus on his final season at Bingham. The Miners are currently ranked No. 16 in the USA TODAY Super 25 and enter their final regular season game at Brighton with a perfect 9-0 record. Win or lose, Bingham should be in pole position for a deep playoff run … and maybe even another invitation to the GEICO State Champions Bowl Series, to be held in Frisco, Texas days before the All-American Bowl.
“Our goal is always the same,” Tufele said. “We always want to win state. That’s the main goal, but also knowing there is going to be another (State Champions) Bowl Series this year, we’re really pumped about that and want to be invited to that.”
Tufele and Bingham seem to be on track for precisely such an invitation if they take care of business. And no matter where he goes next — Tufele recently cut his list of colleges down to seven, with a big visit planned for Michigan this forthcoming weekend — he’s confident that he’ll arrive with some friends in the offing, thanks to his time spent in San Antonio.
“I’m looking forward to making friends with all the big recruits down there, see how I match up with them and get better,” Tufele said. “That’s going to be the best part.”