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After medically retiring, Washington linebacker Laiatu Latu says he’ll commence comeback at UCLA

California's Chase Garbers can't escape pressure from Washington linebackers Brandon Wellington, left, and Laiatu Latu (56).
California quarterback Chase Garbers can’t escape pressure from Washington linebackers Brandon Wellington, left, and Laiatu Latu (56) during a game in 2019.
(Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)

New UCLA outside linebackers coach Ikaika Malloe is bringing a friend.

Outside linebacker Laiatu Latu, who played under Malloe at Washington before medically retiring in the spring of 2021, appears to be on the verge of a comeback with the Bruins. Latu tweeted Friday that he was committed to UCLA as part of his efforts to play for the first time since the 2019 season.

“My situation was a unique one and I’m very sad that I was unable to continue playing at the University of Washington,” Latu wrote, “but God has his plans and God gives his hardest battles to his toughest soldiers.”

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A four-star prospect out of Sacramento Jesuit High, Latu had 16 tackles, 1½ tackles for loss and a pass deflection in 12 games as a true freshman in 2019 before sitting out the 2020 season because of a neck injury that later forced him to medically retire. At the time, then-Washington coach Jimmy Lake said the team had consulted “about five of the best specialists in the country” who concluded the medical retirement was in Latu’s best interest.

Latu, who is 6 feet 4 and 265 pounds, becomes the third player from Washington to transfer to UCLA since 2019, joining quarterback-turned-wide receiver Colson Yankoff and quarterback Ethan Garbers.

Latu has three seasons of remaining eligibility, including the extra season granted by the NCAA because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

UCLA pulled out of the Holiday Bowl because some players would have had to play out of position, increasing risk of injury, a source told The Times.


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