USC football progress report: Solomon Tuliaupupu finally ready to go

USC football at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. (Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
USC football at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. (Meg Oliphant/Getty Images) /

USC football hopes to finally see something from Solomon Tuliaupupu in 2020.

Back in 2018, USC football was thrilled to land Solomon Tuliaupupu out of the Mater Dei pipeline.

Two years later, the Trojans are still waiting for the gifted linebacker to see the practice field for an extended period, let alone make an impact in a game.

What has kept Tuliaupupu from launching his college career and what can USC fans hope to see from him going forward?

USC football progress report on Solomon Tuliaupupu…

What USC got as a recruit

Tuliaupupu was one of the top linebackers in the class of 2018, ranking No. 86 nationally in the 247Sports composite.

Having delivered 63 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and four sacks for Mater Dei as a senior, he was named USA Today’s All-USA Defensive Player of the Year.

Scouts were high on his potential. They ranked him No. 86 nationally in the 247Sports composite. Only two inside linebackers were rated ahead of him and one of those was fellow USC signee Palaie Gaoteote.

With a 6-foot-2, 220-pound frame, the aggressive nature to rush the passer and the athleticism to drop back into coverage, Tuliaupupu was seen as a future high impact player for the Trojans.

What he’s accomplished

Unfortunately, Tuliaupupu missed the final two games of his Mater Dei career because of a foot injury and he hasn’t played football since. That’s two-and-a-half years without taking part in a meaningful football game.

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He hasn’t been able to practice much either. He arrived at USC with his foot still holding him back and sat out the 2018 season after undergoing surgery.

The 2019 season was supposed to offer Tuliaupupu the chance to return to the field and form. However, after participating in early Spring Camp practices he reaggravated the foot problem. Another surgery kept him out for the entirety of the season once more.

What to expect in 2020

With any luck, Tuliaupupu will be fully recovered from that lingering foot injury and ready to make good on his potential in 2020.

The Trojans are replacing a starter in John Houston at middle linebacker, so there is theoretically a spot for Tuliaupupu to step into. He’ll have to see off veteran Jordan Iosefa and other challengers for the job though.

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The biggest concern is how long it will take for him to shake off the rust having spent so much time on the sidelines. If that’s not a problem for him, it’s reasonable to expect the linebacker to not only take over a starting job but to rise into a starring role on defense. If it is, Trojan fans may have to wait another season before they see the best of Tuliaupupu.

Where he goes from here

Tuliaupupu’s troubling history will no doubt give NFL evaluators pause, but his immense potential could still give him a pathway to the pros. First, he needs to prove he can succeed at the college level.

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