The Bruins made a much needed addition to their first seven.
Former Washington edge forward Laiatu Latu announced he would transfer to UCLA football on Friday, coming out of medical retirement to do so. Latu is the third transfer to sign with the Bruins so far this offseason and the first on the defensive end of the ball.
Latu first joined the Huskies when Ikaika Malloe was the outside linebacker coach in Seattle, and now he will follow Malloe on his new digs at Westwood.
The 6-foot-4, 265-pound Latu first joined Washington ahead of the 2019 season, heading to the Pacific Northwest from Carmichael, Calif.
Latu was a highly sought-after rookie, earning four-star ratings from 247Sports Composite, Rivals and ESPN. 247Sports had ranked Latu as the nation’s No.5 defensive end, while Rivals had ranked him No.11 among strong defensive ends. The three main outlets had ranked him among the top 250 prospects in the country at the time.
Coming out of Jesuit High School (CA), Latu received scholarship offers from Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, Florida, State of Fresno, Georgia, Howard, Illinois, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oregon, Oregon State, San Diego State, San Jose State, Stanford, Tennessee, USC, Utah, Vanderbilt, Washington, Washington State, as well as UCLA. As a high school student, Latu racked up 94 tackles and 29.5 tackles for a loss, improving his numbers to 65 and 17.0 as a junior.
Latu played 12 games in his first year in Washington, recording 16 tackles, 1.5 tackles for a loss, 0.5 sacks and one pass defended in rotation. In 2020, Latu did not appear in a match and in April 2021 he chose to retire medically and continue his education after suffering a persistent neck injury.
Assuming Latu can become himself on the pitch again, the Bruins will need his ability to get behind the line of scrimmage next fall. UCLA ranked 91st nationally in sack rate this year, and they lose defensive lineman Otito Ogbonnia, defensive lineman Datona Jackson, linebacker Jordan Genmark Heath, linebacker Myles Jackson, striker Qwuantrezz Knight and possibly rusher Mitchell Agude this offseason.
If anyone can bring Latu to his full potential, it’s Malloe, who has known him as a recruiter and coach for almost four years.
UCLA director of player personnel Ethan Young tweets “BOOM” every time the Bruins get a verbal pledge from a transfer or high school rookie. The youngsters tweeted booms on Tuesday and Wednesday, and it’s safe to assume one of them had to do with Latu.
Former Duke wide receiver Jake Bobo and former UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel were the first transfers to sign at UCLA, but it had been almost two weeks since the program added a transfer. With a small 2022 recruiting class of 11 and Coach Chip Kelly’s reliance on the transfer portal in recent years, there will surely be more transfers than the Bruins make in the weeks to come.
Stay up to date with all the latest UCLA-related transfer market news on the All Bruins Transfer Tracking Portal.
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