Laiatu Latu, the defensive force for the UCLA Bruins, has been named the 2023 Pat Tillman Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, marking a significant milestone in his collegiate career. Latu’s extraordinary season has been a cornerstone of UCLA’s defensive success, and his accolades and statistics speak volumes about his impact on the field.
Laiatu Latu Dominating On Defense
Tackles for Loss (TFL): Latu led the nation with an impressive 21.5 tackles for loss this season, the highest total by a Bruin player since Anthony Barr in 2012.
Sacks: He notched 13.0 sacks, tying for fourth in the country and marking the third-highest in UCLA’s history. This total is the most by a UCLA player since Barr achieved 13.5 sacks in 2012.
Overall Impact: Over the past two seasons, Latu has accumulated 23.5 sacks, the most by a UCLA player since Barr matched this total in 2012 and 2013. His performance has consistently been at a high level, registering at least half a sack in eight of 12 games this season.
Latu posted a season-high 3.5 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks in a game against Colorado. He also had a standout performance against USC with 2.0 sacks and achieved 3.0 tackles for loss in a game against Arizona.
Forced Fumbles and Interceptions: He was credited with three forced fumbles this season and a fumble recovery at Cal. Additionally, Latu made his first career interception against North Carolina Central and added a second against Cal.
Overall Statistics: Latu concluded the season with 49 total tackles, 13 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 interceptions.
Laiatu Latu Player Profile
Latu, a Washington transfer, has overcome significant challenges, including missing the 2020 and 2021 seasons due to surgery on a neck injury. His return to the field and subsequent performance have been nothing short of remarkable.
Latu’s ascension to the top of the Pac-12’s defensive ranks reflects not only his individual skills and resilience but also the strength and effectiveness of UCLA’s defensive strategy. His achievements have been integral to the Bruins’ defensive prowess and are a testament to his potential as he looks ahead to a promising future in the NFL.
Laiatu Latu will certainly be a first-round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.