Evaluating the Foe: BYU Defensive Line

We've heard from Trent Trammell on BYU's receivers, Zac Stout on the running backs, and recently Devin Mahina gave his thoughts on BYU's linebackers. Now, De'Ondre Wesley gives his thoughts on BYU's talented, but young, defensive line in this edition of Evaluating the Foe.

Last year BYU Defensive Line Coach Steve Kaufusi had just seven defensive linemen to work with. It was a situation that visibly made him nervous throughout the season. However, those worries have subsided somewhat now that he has 15 defensive linemen in his group to work with this season. Rather than asking De'Ondre Wesley about all 15 linemen on the roster, we shortened the list and focused on those that will likely contribute in 2014.

Remington Peck

Peck came to BYU as an outside linebacker but was moved early to the defensive line, where he's been playing ever since. At 6-4, 260-pounds, Peck is quick off the line in his pass rush. When asked who the most elusive defensive lineman at BYU is, Wesley mentioned Remington Peck.

"Oh Rem is deceptively elusive," said Wesley. "He's notoriously known for the push-pull technique, and I've studied a lot of him on film. He really gets after it and is one heck of a competitor. He's got a motor on him that doesn't quit. When you look at Rem you might not think he can do what he does, but when that ball is snapped he's off to the races. I like going up against Rem a lot."

Marques Johnson

Johnson has struggled with staying healthy over the course of his BYU career. He saw playing time last season in place of Romney Fuga and was a significant contributor. 2014 is expected to be Johnson's year now that he has a year of experience under his belt. When asked who is the most dominant in the middle at this point in time, Wesley mentioned Johnson.

"Marques Johnson, I feel like him and Rem are the two leaders of the defensive front," Wesley said. "Marques is technique sound, physical, and can hold up both a-gaps. I've seen him do that with my own eyes. He's actually held up both a-gaps at the same time, and I can't wait to see him play this season. He'll have a chance to go to the NFL because I know he can do it. He's that good."

Travis Tuiloma

Recently returned home from his mission to Samoa, Tuiloma made his return home looking more like a linebacker than the 340-pound nose tackle that he was before he left. When asked who has the potential to be the nastiest in the middle, Tuiloma's name instantly came up.

"Oh Travis, man, I didn't know Travis before he got back from his mission, but I heard that kid was around 340-pounds before he left and was just killing the o-line," said Wesley. "Now coming back he's got a new body type and playing style. He's just now figuring out his new playing style. Once that kid gets things figured out as far as his new playing style he's going to be nasty by fall camp. He's quick off the line and is relentless. He's going to be nasty when he figures things out."

Graham Rowley

Much like Tuiloma, Graham Rowley returned home from his mission a little lighter than before he left. Rowley received significant playing time before his mission and now enters his junior year. When asked who has a motor that doesn't quit, Rowley was mentioned.

"Graham has a motor. I can just tell you that right now," Wesley said with a smile. "Graham has a motor and it just doesn't stop. Then on top of that he's physical. So, he has a motor and is really physical and just gets after whoever lines up in front of him. He just gets after it and will chase down whoever has the ball."

Kesni Tausinga

There was another that was named as having a motor that doesn't quit, and, in fact, this player was singled out by Coach Mendenhall early in spring camp. Kesni Tausigna has been impressing coaches and players alike with his motor and physical play in the middle.

"Kesni, he's another one that is relentless and has a motor that doesn't stop," Wesley said. "He'll get after you and is a strong, stout nose guard with great leverage. Man, I love Kesni and he's a good kid. Once that kid is in the program a little longer and gets himself fully back into the swing of things he's going to be deadly. Yeah, he's going to be a force to be reckoned with. I'm excited about Kesni."

Tomasi Laulile

Last Monday, Tomasi Laulile was carted off the field after suffering a patellar dislocation in his knee. When asked who made the greatest strides from last season Laulile's name was brought up.

"Oh man Tomasi! That's another one that is on the rise right there," Wesley said. "I saw that kid take huge strides from last year to spring now. He's learned the defense, he's learned how to use his technique, he's learned how to use the stunts, and he's learned how to use his speed to get past the o-line to the quarterback. It's unfortunate that he went down and I'm going to pray for him. I hope he has a speedy recovery so he can get back out on the field to start where he left off."

JonRyheem Peoples

Although Peoples has been playing a lot of nose tackle he's also been making an effort to play defensive end as well. He still has a lot to learn when it comes to the four technique but there is no doubt he has the capability, when it comes to his potential. Wesley feels if Peoples can maximize his talents he could be one of the most dominant players on BYU's defense.

"JonRyheem Peoples, that kid is something else. I can tell you that right now," said Wesley. "If he focuses and puts all his energy out on the field, I can tell you this right now that kid will be the face of BYU on this defense. He's got the potential to be that good. He's got the size, the strength, and the athleticism to be just a dominant player on the d-line. I'm telling you, if he can get it together he'll be that good."

Biggest Surprises

While there is a lot of depth and talent currently being developed by Coach Kaufusi, there is still a lot of room to grow. The good thing about this young talent is they're working in the spring and will have the summer and fall camp to progress prior to the start of the season. When asked who were the biggest surprises over spring camp Wesley pointed to three return missionaries.

"I would probably have to say Kesni, Travis, and Graham are the biggest surprises this spring camp," Wesley said. "I was thinking they would be a little rusty coming off their mission, and we could boss them around a little bit but nope. After the first few days, yeah. But after that the coaches were getting on their butts, and after that they've been really hard to handle up front, which is pretty amazing. I mean, these guys haven't played football for two years and they're coming in and giving the o-line trouble, so these three have been the biggest surprise on the d-line over spring camp. I can't wait to see what they can do come fall camp because they're going to be really good."

The future of BYU's defensive line looks very bright.

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