Laiatu Latu represents UCLA on midseason All-America team from ESPN
Laiatu Latu is on ESPN’s midseason All-America defensive team.
Even though the offense has been rather frustrating of late for UCLA, it makes sense to have one of the nation’s best defenses represented with one of the nation’s most disruptive defenders. Latu has followed up a Comeback Player of the Year campaign in 2022 with an equally productive start to his 2023 season.
ESPN’s Chris Low included the edge rusher on his All-America team on Tuesday, and he wrote the following on Latu’s start:
It’s hard to believe Latu had to medically retire from football after missing the 2020 and 2021 seasons with a neck injury while at Washington. But getting clearance from doctors to play again has paid dividends for both him and UCLA. In his second season with the Bruins, Latu is again one of the more disruptive defenders in the country with nine tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.
Latu is the only defender from the Pac-12 on the list.
The 6-foot-5 senior ranks inside the top 15 nationally in both tackles for loss and sacks per game. He is the highest-graded defensive player in all of the Power Five, according to Pro Football Focus. His 29 total quarterback pressures in six games are tied for the eighth-most among P5 defenders.
UCLA is 4-2 on the year and ranked No. 25 in the country. The start is due, in large part, to the play of the defense. Even after a 36-24 loss to Oregon State in Week 7, UCLA still ranks fourth nationally in defensive efficiency. The group also ranks among the top 25 teams in scoring defense, passer rating against, sacks, tackles for loss, and takeaways.
The Bruins face Stanford on the road on Saturday.