XFL

Vipers LB Pita Taumoepenu Named 2023 XFL Defensive Player Of The Year

May 4, 2023, 11:33 AM

Pita-Taumoepenu-Utah-Utes-Football...

Defensive end Pita Taumoepenu #50 of the Utah Utes celebrates after recovering a fumble during the first quarter against the Colorado Buffaloes at Folsom Field on November 26, 2016 in Boulder, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – Former Utah Utes and current Vegas Vipers linebacker Pita Taumoepenu won the XFL‘s Defensive Player of the Year award for the 2023 season.

The XFL announced the Defensive Player of the Year winner on Thursday, May 4.

The award was voted on by each team’s head coach and/or director of player personnel, according to the XFL.

Taumoepenu led the XFL in forced fumbles during the 2023 regular season.

In addition to his league-leading forced fumbles, Taumoepenu ranked second in the XFL in sacks and sixth in tackles for loss.

RELATED: Vegas’ Pita Taumoepenu Forces Fumble To Help Seal Win Over Brahmas

Pita Taumoepenu finished the season with 26 total tackles, 21 solo tackles, 7.5 sacks, eight tackles for loss, four forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery.

The former Utah standout and the Vipers finished the regular season with a 2-8 record. Vegas did not qualify for the XFL Playoffs with the second-worst record in the league.

About Pita Taumoepenu

Prior to his professional career, Taumoepenu was a standout high school player for the Timpview Thunderbirds. After high school, the linebacker attended the University of Utah.

During his four seasons with the Utes, the Provo native recorded 73 total tackles, 49 solo tackles, 21 sacks, 25 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery. Taumoepenu played in 43 games at Utah.

Following his time at Utah, Taumoepenu was selected by the San Francisco 49ers during the sixth round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

He played for the Niners until 2019. From 2019-21, Taumoepenu spent time with the Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons, and Denver Broncos.

Taumoepenu was picked by the Vipers in the 2023 XFL Draft.

About the XFL

In April 2020, the XFL suspended league operations and terminated its employees amid the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A total of 12 former college football players from the state of Utah were on active 52-man rosters in the eight-team league. Along with the 12 players, former BYU and Utah offensive coordinator Norm Chow was the offensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Wildcats.

In 2019, another football league, the American Alliance of Football, folded before the completion of its inaugural season.

After the XFL suspended operations, new ownership purchased the league. The group is led by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Unlike the current edition of the USFL, which will start its second season in 2023, the XFL has partnered with the NFL.

2023 XFL Teams

North Division

South Division

Kyle Ireland is a Locals in the NFL Insider for KSLSports.com and co-host of the Yards After College Podcast. Follow him on Twitter (@kyleireland) and Instagram (@kyleirelandksl).

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Vipers LB Pita Taumoepenu Named 2023 XFL Defensive Player Of The Year