Our countdown of the top 10 Hokies from the 2017 season as voted by The Tech Lunch Pail staff continues at #4 with Andrew Motuapuaka.
Andrew Motuapuaka received a lot of criticism during his career but the starting mike linebacker could always be relied on to make some big plays especially this past season. Over the past year, Motuapuaka showed that he was one of the best linebackers in the ACC with his best season yet.
Andrew Motuapuaka finished the 2017 season with 92 tackles, second on the team, along with 11.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, 6 QB hurries, 1 forced fumble, 1 interception, and 7 pass deflections. Motuapuaka was very good as a run defender while he was also one of the best pass coverage linebackers in the country. Motuapuaka’s strong season led him to receiving All-ACC Third Team honors.
The pass coverage skills of Motuapuaka received some national recognition from Pro Football Focus this past season.
Virginia Tech LB Andrew Motuapuaka yielded a passer rating of just 14.9 on throws into his coverage – the lowest among all FBS inside linebackers this season. pic.twitter.com/6I4Kkj9k87
— PFF College Football (@PFF_College) December 10, 2017
That is an impressive stat that shows how effective Motuapuaka was in pass coverage. Motuapuaka also developed into a better run defender who tied his career high in tackles for loss this year.
However, Motuapuaka’s biggest impact may have come from his leadership skills on and off the field. The senior LB was one of the Hokies’ captains this past season and consistently received praise for his leadership skills from the coaching staff. On the field, Motuapuaka did well at making sure the Hokies’ defense was organized and in position to make plenty of big plays as they did throughout the season.
Looking ahead, Motuapuaka has some physical limitations that make him a borderline guy to be selected in the NFL Draft. However, Motuapuaka will definitely get a shot as an undrafted free agent who can earn a roster spot not only because of his instincts and on-field leadership but also because of his work ethic and strong off-the-field intangibles.
Stay up with our top 10 Hokies countdown and our TLP Awards here.