Signing Day 2007...The Defensive Tackles

Everyone knows that defenses are built from the front to the back. In order to have a dominant defense it is vital to have a strong force up front to be able to stop the run and pressure the quarterback. Through the years the Arizona Football program has had more than their fair share of studs up front. Names like Van Tuinei, Rob Waldrop and Jim Hoffman come to mind.

The Wildcats have seen a slight resurgence of late in the play of the interior defensive linemen. They have been able to add key depth at the position and have, for the most part, been able to stay healthy up front. Names like Yaniv Barnett and Lionel Dotson have become mainstays along the line and have been impressive.

When the Arizona coaching staff received the Letters of Intent from Hans Philipp and Kaniela Tuipulotu they had smiles on their faces that could be seen for miles around Tucson. The addition of these two young men adds extreme depth to one of the most important spot on the defensive field.

Philipp will follow in the footsteps of his brother Paul and will play pure 3-technique defensive tackle for the Cats while Tuipulotu will don the Cardinal and Navy and man the middle at nose guard for the U of A. Both young men are highly thought of and impressive.

Kaniela has been pursued by the Arizona coaches for well over a year and Hans received a scholarship offer after a very impressive performance at Arizona's camp in June of last year. So impressive was Philipp that many in attendance could not believe what they saw when he knocked Army All-American offensive lineman Kristofer O'Dowd on his butt, twice!

The two newcomers will join a pretty impressive and experienced group. Senior Yaniv Barnett returns for his final year in Tucson at the nose. He is backed up by impressive walk on Dave Bertrand. At the tackle spot, senior Lionel Dotson has grown into an NFL quality defensive lineman and he is backed up by sophomore Donald Horton who served impressively after bulking up and moving inside, converting from defensive end.

The Wildcats will also have, coming off of red-shirt years, freshmen Conan Amituanai, Lolomana Mikaele and quite possibly Colin Baxter, if he is converted from the offensive line.

For the first time in a long time the Cats look to be deep but not deep enough to possibly keep Tuipulotu off the field. Out of the two he is the most likely to see time in his first year on campus as he has the size, strength and right mental makeup to compete on this level fresh out of high school. Philipp, while physically gifted, will most likely need a red-shirt year to add strength and weight to a young frame.

The defensive tackle unit only loses Paul Philipp from the regular rotation and even that may not happen as it seems a medical red-shirt is possible for the elder Philipp. If he applies for, and is granted, an extra year from the NCAA then the young Tuipulotu may not be needed along the defensive interior.

Pre-Recruiting Cycle Need…2 DT

SIGNED…2 (Kaniela Tuipulotu and Hans Philipp) Position Recruiting Grade…A+

The Wildcats targeted many candidates early for the defensive interior and they got two of their top targets, which is extremely hard to do, especially at this position. Defensive tackle is the hardest position to recruit for due to the overwhelming need and the lack of position specificity in high school for the defensive tackle spot. In the end, with the addition of Philipp and Tuipulotu, the Cats are the deepest they quite possibly have ever been.

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