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52 Days to Purdue Football: Zac Tuinei

Today we feature a transfer from Arkansas State.

Syndication: Journal-Courier Nikos Frazier / Journal & Courier via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Today’s player has had a circuitous route to Purdue, but he played in high school here in Indiana and has the size to be an asset.

Zac Tuinei - Fr. (RS)

Noblesville, IN (Noblesville HS)

6’, 240 pounds


2021 Projection: Reserve

Tuinei has had quite the journey to get to Purdue. He was originally recruited by Purdue, but broke his foot and it cost him much of his senior season in 2018. He then decided to sign with Arkansas State on a blue shirt deal. Here is a great explanation on what that means:

Blueshirting wasn’t used until recently, and it still isn’t common, but it’s essentially another loophole to get around oversigning.

The blueshirt rule allows schools to put “unrecruited” athletes on scholarship once they arrive on campus, but count them against the next year’s scholarship total, as long as they don’t play. Here’s what it means to be “recruited,” according to the NCAA:

Was provided an official visit to the campus;

Had arranged, in-person, off-campus contact with a coach; or

Was sent an NLI or other written scholarship offer.

Coaches can contact players and have them on campus for unofficial visits — when the recruits pay their ways — without technically recruiting them. Essentially, as long as a recruit doesn’t take an official visit or host one of that school’s coaches, he wasn’t “recruited” by that school.

Tuinei did not play in 2019, but was able to practice. His eligibility clock did not start and he came to Purdue last season and redshirted.

Tuinei’s family has quite a football history. His brother Lavasier had a great career at Oregon and helped them win the Rose Bowl (as Rose Bowl MVP no less) in 2012 before having a solid career in the CFL. His dad played in the NFL for the Chargers, Colts, and Bears.

Tuinei was also a pretty decent baseball player in HS and was the #4 rated outfielder in the state. He was even a teammate of Hammer & Rails’ own Jace Jellsion.