It’s been a while since we last checked in on Motekiai Langi.
Langi, a native of Tonga, first caught our attention back in 2015 when he was announced as a member of BYU’s recruiting class. Back then, Langi was listed at 6-foot-7 and 410 pounds, and former Cougars head coach Bronco Mendendall said one of his assistants noticed him in a pickup basketball game during a recruiting trip.
Before Langi embarked on his LDS mission in Phoenix, Arizona, Langi — who had never played football before — visited BYU’s campus in Provo, Utah, where Mendenhall offered him a scholarship. At the conclusion of his Mormon mission, Langi finally made it to campus before the 2017 season.
Langi made a few appearances on the field in 2017 but was granted an injury redshirt. Entering spring, Langi had reportedly lost around 50 pounds and is now listed at 6-foot-7 and 397 pounds. But even after the weight loss, there are some things Langi is still too big for.
Like a foam gymnastics pit, for instance.
BYU gymnastics coach Guard Young explained last month that he invited some athletes from other programs to practice to yell at the gymnasts as they practiced. Langi and some of his football teammates took Young up on the offer. After practice, of course, the football players had to try out some of the gymnastics equipment.
That’s when Langi had his ill-fated foam pit experience.
“We all thought it was pretty funny until we realized we couldn’t get him out,” Young said. “Then I was like, seriously, how do you get someone like that out of the foam pit? We got him out, but it took some effort and some football players to help. Thankfully I didn’t get a phone call from (head football coach Kalani Sitake) about it. We kept him safe.”
BYU senior gymnast Jill van Mierlo said the foam tends to envelope you when you jump in.
“It was hilarious,” van Mierlo said. “He struggled to get out because it sucks you in. It was definitely a sight.”
Langi laughed when asked about getting stuck in the pit.
“It sucked me down,” Langi said. “It took me a couple of minutes before I was finally able to get out.”
Thankfully, some of Langi’s teammates were able to rescue him — but not without one casualty: Langi lost his socks.
“He lost his socks,” Young said. “We never found them. They are still in the bottom.”
Langi said he feels a little guilty about the fact that the gymnasts will have to deal with his socks being stuck in the pit.
“I feel bad for those gymnasts,” Langi said with a grin. “They’ll find them and be like, ‘Whose socks are these?’”
Langi said he hopes to work his way down to around 350 pounds as he works to crack the team’s rotation at defensive tackle. In the meantime, Langi will likely avoid any and all foam pits.
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