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UTSA Middle Linebacker Josiah Tauaefa Named C-USA Defensive Player of the Week

UTSA’s redshirt freshman received his inevitable conference accolade for his performance against Southern Miss on Saturday. It should be his first of many.

NCAA Football: Arizona State at Texas-San Antonio Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

UTSA’s defense has a real weapon in ferocious young linebacker Josiah Tauaefa. He's been dropping the jaws of Roadrunner fans from the first game of the season, and has now turned the heads of C-USA viewers across the country after a dominant performance against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles last Saturday.

The redshirt freshman registered 12 tackles in UTSA’s 55-32 rampage over the Western Division favorites, five of which were solo efforts.

His most glorious moment, however, came with four minutes remaining in the contest. Southern Miss quarterback Nick Mullens was driving deep into UTSA territory attempting a late comeback victory. Tauaefa intercepted Mullens on the one yard line to cement UTSA’s win with 3:55 left to play, the quintessential ‘‘dagger.’’

It was the first turnover of his budding career.

Tauaefa has started the last four games after earning the rights over LSU graduate transfer Ronnie Feist in the opening contest.

The speed he plays at is unparalleled on the gridiron, and he has an uncanny ability to blow up the backfield and read plays like a book. Head Coach Frank Wilson’s decision to move him from defensive end to linebacker has proven successful already, just five games into his collegiate career.

With already 58 tackles on the season, Tauaefa is on pace to record 140 by year’s end. He's currently ranked third in the country with 11.6 stops per game.

His Defensive Player of the Week Award is rightfully deserved, and at the rate he's playing he should earn a spot on the C-USA All Conference Defense as well as a selection on the Freshman All-American Team.