Nearly forced to move with NFL free agent father, Tyree Alualu excelling as North Allegheny linebacker

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Sunday, September 12, 2021 | 10:01 AM


North Allegheny linebacker Tyree Alualu is already making an impact as a first-year starter in the middle of the Tigers defense, but the sophomore standout nearly spent this fall playing football for another high school, likely in Florida.

His father, defensive tackle Tyson Alualu, was searching for a new NFL contract last spring after his deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers expired. If the 12-year pro moved south, so too would’ve Tyree and the rest of the Alualu family.

“It was definitely scary at first,” said Tyree Alualu, a 5-foot-11, 200-pound inside linebacker. “I didn’t want to leave all of my friends here. I’d built a lot of relationships and bonds with my teammates.”

That uncertainty also had North Allegheny coaches and players following the NFL transactions closely.

“You’re checking your phone for the ESPN updates on free agency to see who’s getting picked up and who’s not,” coach Art Walker said. “Tyree had told us, ‘Coach, I want to say. I love it here.’ He’s not just a great player but a great kid and it’s a great family.”

Tyson Alualu and his wife Desire have four sons, Tyree, Tydes, Tyten and Tyson-Jaxx, and two daughters, Dereon and Deonne Skye.

Knowing the sophomore didn’t want to leave Pennsylvania, Walker told him he’d opened up his home if his parents opted to let him stay behind.

“He offered for me to stay at his house,” Tyree Alualu said. “He was really fighting for me to stay. I ran it by my parents and they said, ‘Nah, you’ve got to be with me.”

In mid-March, news reports said Tyson Alualu had agreed to a deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars, but there was a wrinkle. A positive covid test delayed his trip to Florida, leaving him time to reconsider the move. Days later, news reports announced Alualu was re-signing with the Steelers.

That’s a decision his son celebrated.

“Joy,” he said. “I was really excited that I didn’t have to leave all of my friends behind and could play for this school. It’s amazing.”

The North Allegheny defense needed two new inside linebackers this fall after last year’s starters, Nate Hoke and Brady Leczo, graduated. Hoke, like Alualu, was a player with Steelers ties.

Adept at both stopping the run and defending the pass, Alualu made an immediate impact in his first varsity start. In Week Zero, he intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble in a 47-14 win over Allderdice.

“Through the course of the summer, everything he’s done from May until now, he’s worked hard to put himself in position to win a starting job,” Walker said. “He’s got a bright future.”

North Allegheny has had a number of players in recent years with Steelers ties. Jacob Porter, son of retired linebacker Joey Porter, is a senior on the roster this season. His brother Joey Jr. was a senior for the Tigers in 2018. Chris Hoke’s sons Nate and Cade both starred at linebacker in recent years.

With the last name Alualu, many folks immediately make the connection with his father.

“People always bring it up,” Tyree Alualu said. “It’s kind of stressful at times because there’s a lot to live up to right now.”

But having an NFL dad does come with its benefits. The two watch film together, he said, and at times his dad can give him in-game advice.

“He’ll call to me on the sideline, motion some stuff to me and tell me what to do on certain plays,” he said.

For now he’s strictly a defensive player, but Walker said Alualu should see some snaps at running back in the future. At this age, he’s a few inches shorter and more than 100 pounds lighter than his father, who lists at 6-3 and 304 pounds.

Might the younger Alualu grow into being a defensive lineman?

“People are always telling me I’m going to grow into my body,” he said. “I say, I kind of like where I’m at right now.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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