After losing two solid starters in Taylor Thompson (drafted in the 5th round by the Titans) and Marquis Frazier, three seniors will start on the defensive line for the Mustangs in 2012 and have the potential to be even better than the unit in 2011.
Anyone who follows SMU sports (or SMU in general) has heard about the 6-foot-8, 275-pound monster that will line up at defensive end for the Mustangs next year. Margus Hunt has already accumulated a number of preseason accolades including being named to the All-C-USA team as well as the Lombardi and Hendricks award watch lists.
Hunt has shown the ability to dominate opponents with sheer size strength and athleticism. Off the edge Hunt also possesses rare speed for his size and closes in on quarterbacks in a hurry. To this point however, Hunt has had trouble playing with consistency throughout the course of a season.
He has noticeable deficiencies in his technique and skill level because he has only been playing football since 2009. Hunt finished last season with a strong effort in the final game of the season against Pittsburgh with three sacks. If he can build on that and improve his technique, Hunt has the raw ability to be a stud at the next level.
Lining up at nose tackle for the Mustangs will be Torlan Pittman, the only returning starter on the defensive line. Pittman had a very strong junior campaign and constantly plugged up holes against opposing rushers. Pittman maintained solid gap control and assisted Taylor Reed immensely in stuffing runners close to the line of scrimmage.
Pittman started all 13 games last year for the Mustangs and finished the season with six tackles for loss as well as a sack. Although he doesn't jump off the stat sheet, Pittman consistently caused disruption for the opposition's backfield whether he was forcing rushers to run to the outside or taking on two blockers at once- his presence was felt.
Starting at the other end position is Kevin Grenier who only saw action in four games last year because of a nagging shoulder injury. Grenier had a decent junior campaign appearing in all 13 games and recording 3.5 sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss in 2011.
Grenier will look to bounce back in his senior season, and he will have a great set of linebackers behind him to ease his way into the starting role. Barring aggravation with his injury, Grenier should be solid on the edge for the Mustangs, and he'll complete a promising starting defensive front.
As far as the reserves for the defensive line, senior Aaron Davis will play behind Pittman at nose tackle and playing behind him is redshirt freshman Darrian Wright. On the left side behind Grenier will be sophomore Beau Barnes and the backup on the right side will be special teamer Cameron Smith.
The wild card for the unit is California freshman Christian Holloway who missed all of the spring and has yet to practice with the Mustangs. There have been high hopes for the 6-5 260 lb. three-star recruit, but he has been sidelined due to some academic issues.
Pony Stampede Two-Deep:
LDE- 1. Kevin Grenier 2. Beau Barnes
NT- 1. Torlan Pittman 2. Aaron Davis
RDE- 1. Margus Hunt 2. Cameron Smith
Others to Watch:
Fr. Christian Holloway, Fr. Ellie Nabushosi, RS-Fr. Zach Wood, So. Darrian Wright
Position Preview: Defensive Line
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