Pac-12 Position Rankings: Defensive line

The Pac-12 position rankings continue, as WildcatAuthority.com takes a look at the defensive line.

The defensive lines in the conference seem to be split into two tiers in terms of talent.

WildcatAuthority.com ranks that talent, as there are plenty of players that stand out.

1. UCLA: Datone Jones missed last season with a broken foot, but should be one of the better ends in the conference.

Cassius Marsh took one of the tackle spots in the middle of last season and was a very solid player, if not UCLA's best lineman.

Figuring it can stay healthy, UCLA will have one of the best lines in the conference, as there is also solid depth.

2. USC: Junior Nick Perry is healthy and the Trojans' coaching staff is expecting huge things from him at defensive end.

Wes Horton will get the other spot, with Armond Armstead (if he gets healthy) being a wildcard.

Christian Tupou is one of the starters at tackle with DaJohn Harris pushing him for playing time. Redshirt freshman George Uko has been extremely impressive this spring and looks to be a starter as well.

3. Arizona State: In no surprise, William Sutton and Bo Moos were the starters at defensive tackles and will likely be throughout the season.

At defensive end, Junior Onyeali will likely have a big season, figuring he recovers fine from a missed spring and offseason injury. James Brooks is a complete wildcard as of now due in large part to his academic situation.

Jamaar Jarrett is clearly a starter at defensive end and Greg Smith will look to keep the momentum from his surprisingly strong spring.

4. Utah: The Utes have a very deep defensive line and likely one of the best in the conference, due in large part to the play of Star Lotulelei, who should be in contention for All Pac-12 honors.

Latu Heimuli sat out the spring with an injury and will now be headed on a mission, which will be a big loss.

Sophomore Joe Kruger is poised for a big year at defensive end and Derrick Shelby will be one to keep an eye on as he tries to recover the speed he lost after a knee injury.

5. Washington: The defensive line could be the strength of the team, as Alameda Ta'amu as emerged as a major force at defensive tackle. The Huskies are hoping that 344-pound redshirt freshman Lawrence Lagafuaina will be able to help out in the middle as well.

At end, Josh Shirley had a big spring in terms of being able to rush the passer. He leaves a little bit to be desired in run coverage, but is working to improve.

Keep an eye on incoming defensive tackle Danny Shelton, who is highly regarded and will work to contribute right away.

6. Arizona: The Wildcats have solid depth at defensive tackle with Justin Washington returning from a remarkable season and Sione Tuihalamaka ready to emerge as a star.

Mohammed Usman is ready to make an impact at defensive end after barely playing last season and he will be opposite C.J. Parish, who has the speed but is lacking experience.

Besides Dan Pettinato, there is not a lot of depth at defensive end, so there will definitely be questions there.

7. California: Ernest Owusu started nine games last season, but Cameron Jordan's presence likely had a lot to do with his success. In fact, it would not be a surprise to see Deandre Coleman overtake him at some point.

Trevor Guyton is the starter at the other end position and has continued his solid second part of last season.

Keep an eye on the incoming freshmen, as five-star Viliami Moala and highly regarded recruits Brennan Scarlett and Todd Barr will challenge for playing time right away.

8. Oregon: The Ducks lost Zac Clark, Brandon Bair and end Kenny Rowe from last year's team with Terrell Turner missing part of the spring due to an injury.

In reality, it does not matter much, as tackles Taylor Hart and Wade Keliikipi played a bit last season and Ricky Heimuli is expected to make an impact as well.

Defensive ends Brandon Hanna and Dion Jordan played last season as well and will have a bigger role, with Jordan having the potential of having a major breakout season. There is plenty of depth and it is possible that freshmen will contribute as well.

9. Stanford: The Cardinal lost two of its three starters and there are not any big names on the defensive line that are going to generate fear.

Defensive end Matt Masifilo is the only returning starter on the defensive line and Stanford is hoping for big things from him.

Terrence Stephens and Ben Gardner are expected to be the starters at tackle and end respectively, but there are still major concerns with the depth here.

10. Colorado: The Buffs will have a solid defensive line this season, as they return starters Josh Hartigan, Curtis Cunningham and Will Pericak.

Colorado battled injuries in the spring, but a healthy defensive line should be among one of the better ones in the conference.

Keep an eye on senior Conrad Obi, who has never been able to reach his full potential, but has plenty of it.

11. Oregon State: The defensive line is a major unknown at this point, and is thus a huge concern for the Beavers.

Kevin Frahm is a stable force inside, but there is not much at the tackle position outside of him.

Senior Dominic Glover is a guaranteed starter at one defensive end position after playing in all 12 games last season, starting eight. Taylor Henry has a chance to start on the opposite side and it is possible a defensive end or two will be moved inside to help.

12. Washington State: There is going to need to be major improvement here if the Cougars are going to win games.

Travis Long is the best returning defensive lineman, but that is not saying a ton, as this unit got torn up last season.

Keep an eye on JC transfer Ian Knight, who is the other starting defensive end.


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