Player Capsule: Laiu Moeakiola
Weight: 215 pounds
2014 season quick review: Moeakiola was one of ASU's best defensive players and truly indespensible last season at Spur. He suffered an injured shoulder against Colorado and battled the rest of the year, playing in every game though often at far less than full strength. When he was on the field, the Sun Devils were dramatically more stable and structurally sound and when he wasn't, it caused problems that permeated the entire unit. On the season, Moeakiola finished fifth on the team with 72 tackles including 10.5 for loss and five sacks.
Co-defensive coordinator/linebacker coach Keith Patterson's take: "When you look at the four cornerstones of our program, Laiu resembles every one of them at the highest level. Gotta be smart, disciplined, tough, I mean [he's that] guy. The leadership, I've challenged Laiu in this area here, sometimes you can get so far out in front of the pack you're not leading anymore you're just running solo and that's kind of the case with Laiu. He's so far, he does everything so right that he's so far out here that some guys can't even see him."
" I can't even explain it because he just has leadership qualities where I'm trying to take those qualities and make him an effective leader. He's an effective leader on the field for sure, no doubt and if we can take what he knows and put it into more of our players, guess what, now we're becoming better. That's where we've challenged him."
SunDevilSource.com analysis: No player on the Arizona State defense was more important than Moeakiola last season, not only because of his stabilizing impact on the group as a whole but also due to his versatility and overall capability at a position that is extremely demanding. The Spur position is part linebacker, part safety and part cornerback and is utilized in a wide variety of applications from blitzing to covering receivers in space in man free to being relied upon to be stout and physical against the run in the alley and Moeakiola is good to great in each of these areas. He has the size and mobility of a true safety but the power and strength of a linebacker, is aggressive and tenacious around the line of scrimmage and attacking as a pass rusher, but can also run with athletic skill players and cover effectively.
"Moeakiola is a quiet leader who has a calming presence on the field and influences players through his workmanlike approach on a daily basis. If he can become more articulate in terms of developing the same ethic and situational knowledge of the game with those underneath him, like Marcus Ball, as well as others along the defense, he can increase his impact. Staying healthy has been an issue as well for Moeakiola, who hurt his hamstring as a freshman and battled the shoulder injury last year, so sustaining through an entire year healthy will also be something to watch moving forward.
Projected depth chart status: Not only is Moeakiola one of the best overall players on the team, he's without question one of the most important. The drop off to whomever backed up Moeakiola last season when he had to come off the field was more of a step down than probably anywhere else on the roster. He's an unquestionable starter and team captain type player, even as a junior.