Nifae Lealao projects as one of the best defensive ends in the 2014 class, and the Sacramento (Calif.) Capital Christian School product is already drawing the interest from the pick of the litter of the West Coast's college football powers.
Lealao figures to be somewhere along the defensive line in college -- ESPN projects him as a defensive tackle, and already at 280 pounds he has the size for it, but most services consider him a strongside defensive end. The 6'2 junior is a consensus four-star recruit, ranked as the No. 5 defensive end and No. 43 player at any position by Rivals. 247 has him as the No. 4 defensive end but the No. 54 player in the country, while ESPN is less sold, ranking him as the No. 12 defensive tackle and No. 148 player nationally.
He has a ton of offers from West Coast schools -- Stanford and Cal are close to home, Oregon, UCLA, Washington, Oregon State, Colorado, and Utah round out Pac-12 schools with interest, with Brigham Young, Boise State, Wisconsin, and Ole Miss rounding out national interest.
Derrell Warren, West Coast Recruiting Analyst (@yssd):
Sacramento defensive lineman Nifae Lealo is a recruit whose size and versatility make him him so coveted. He's not an elite, quick-twitch athlete, but possesses a good getoff due to quick reactions at the snap.
From a scheme perspective, Lealo projects to fit both conventional 4-3 defenses and 3-4 fronts. His size, length, and movement skills enable him to likely be effective as a 5 tech defensive end, and either defensive tackle or nose guard.
There's not an extensive amount of film of Lealo as a pass rusher, but it's evident that he can press the pocket off the edge and from the interior with both his size and burst. He also displays the instincts to get his hands up in the air to disrupt passing lanes. He likely won't rack up huge sack numbers but can collapse the pocket from the outside or generate enough up the middle push to drive quarterback into the rush lanes of outside rushers.
Lealo is routinely able to cross the face of offensive lineman at the snap and chase plays down from the back side. Also, he does a nice job getting 'skinny' and sliding inside of gaps to create disruption in the backfield. Going into his final high school season he needs to get better at holding his position at the point of attack. On film, he seems to get impatient at times and spin away from double teams ( creating a crease for the opposing running back) as opposed to holding his ground and stalemating them.
Lealo possesses the upside to be multi-year contributor at the BCS level with his combination of size and athleticism.