USC only played five games this past season, but defensive lineman Marlon Tuipulotu made each one count.
After not seeing much time on the field in his freshman year, Tuipulotu spent the final three years of his collegiate career as an impact player for the Trojans. He accumulated 102 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks and two forced fumbles during that time.
Tuipulotu then had an opportunity to showcase his skillset at this year's Senior Bowl. There were plenty of analysts raving about his explosiveness and power throughout that week in Mobile, Alabama.
We were fortunate enough to chat with Tuipulotu this week to discuss his USC career, experience at the Senior Bowl, and the future of the Trojans.
The Spun: How was your time spent at the Senior Bowl?
Marlon Tuipulotu: The Senior Bowl was a great experience. First of all, I wanted to go out there and be a sponge and learn from the Panthers’ coaching staff. It was fun to show my abilities against the best seniors in the country.
The Spun: You were considered one of the big winners from that week due to your practice performances. What was your mentality out there?
MT: I’m always trying to critique myself to be better, but as long as they’re saying good things, I’ll take it. For me, I was trying to show what I can do. Whatever questions they did have about me, I hope they were answered.
The Spun: What would you say is your best attribute?
MT: My best attribute at this moment is my hustle to the football and ability to stop the run.
The Spun: With that part of the draft process over, what else is left to show scouts?
MT: It’s probably just getting to the quarterback at a more consistent basis. I know I can rush the passer, but I need to be more consistent.
The Spun: Have you met with any NFL teams?
MT: I talked to a few scouts. I have Zoom calls scheduled this week with the Packers and Saints.
The Spun: Go back to your USC career. Do you have a signature moment you remember best?
MT: The sack/strip fumble against Utah this past season. We’re rivals and it’s always tough to beat them on the road, so getting that game-changing play against them was exciting.
The Spun: Do you feel like the Pac-12 is overlooked when talking about the CFP picture?
MT: It’s really on us trying to go out there and win football games. We were capable of doing that this past season, but then we fell short in the Pac-12 Championship Game.
The Spun: USC is losing a lot of talent specifically on defense to the NFL Draft. Which players do you think will stand out for the Trojans in 2021?
MT: I want to show love to my defensive line. Everyone on the D-line from Drake Jackson - we all know what Drake can do - my little brother Tuli Tuipulotu, Brandon Piuli, Nick Figueroa. They can show their abilities this upcoming season, especially with a coach like Vic So’oto.
The Spun: What impresses you the most about Kedon Slovis?
MT: How calm and relaxed when he’s out there playing ball.He showed that as a freshman and continues to grow as a football player. He’s so smart and has become a legitimate field general out there.
The Spun: Is there a quarterback you can’t wait to face in the NFL?
MT: Shoot, any quarterback. There are a lot of great quarterbacks in the NFL, like Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. I’m just excited to take the next step and play against those guys.
The Spun: Who do you like to watch on film?
MT: Daron Payne from the Washington Football Team and Geno Atkins from the Bengals.
The Spun: What is an NFL team getting in Marlon Tuipulotu?
MT: You’re getting a football player that is able to do the dirty work and will work hard for everything they earn. I can stop the run extremely well and show flashes as a pass rusher.
Pro Football Focus recently ranked Tuipulotu in the top 10 for best interior defensive lineman available in the upcoming NFL Draft.
NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah is also impressed by Tuipulotu, ranking him as the No. 45 overall prospect available this April. As of now, USC fans should expect to hear his name called on Day 2.
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