2014 Spring Blitz: Defensive Line

With the beginning of spring ball a few weeks away, HornedFrogBlitz.com breaks down each position unit heading into camp.

The defensive line returns seven players who saw playing time in 2013 led by junior Terrell Lathan.
Davion Pierson - DT
Chucky Hunter - DT
Terrell Lathan - DE
Devonte Fields - DE
James McFarland - DE
Mike Tuaua - DE
Tevin Lawson - DT
Bryson Henderson - DE
RS freshman
Josh Carraway - DE

Returning Statistical Leaders
Tackles: Hunter; 43
SACKS: Lathan; 5
TFL: Lathan; 7
Forced Fumbles: Hunter; 1


STRENGTHS: Experience
WEAKNESS: Depth on the interior

Hunter is the leader of the DL
Last year at this time the defensive line was graded with an "A". The Frogs returned All-American Devonte Fields and all conference performers Chucky Hunter and Davion Pierson. The unit didn't disappoint in 2013, once again leading the Big 12 in rush defense surrendering only 127.8 yards per game. They also tied for fourth in the conference with 21 sacks on the year. However, there have been plenty of changes to the personnel since last year. Jon Koontz graduated after an impressive senior campaign while Matt Anderson's career came to an end after a series of injuries. Also gone from the roster since last spring are David Johnson and Jon Lewis. Johnson's career also ended with an injury and Jon Lewis decided recently that he was done with football. The good news for the Frogs defensive line is nearly every contributor return for the 2014 season. While Devonte Fields is still the headliner of the group, it's unclear if he is completely healed from his foot injury from last season. If he's not ready to go in a few weeks, the battle for his spot could be very interesting with Terrell Lathan and Mike Tuaua. Both players showed they could step in during Fields' absence by combining for 6 sacks. Lathan actually led the team with 5 sacks. James McFarland also showed flashes last year as a sophomore racking up three sacks. McFarland should be the unquestioned starter at left end heading into spring ball. After playing as a true freshman in 2012, Josh Carraway redshirted in 2013 after an injury forced him to miss the season. Bryson Henderson redshirted in 2013, but he could be a player to watch at 6-foot-6, 250-pounds. On the interior, aside from Hunter and Pierson, depth isn't great with Tevin Lawson as the other interior player. Lathan and Tuaua both could still see action inside, especially as a 3-tech. That could mean ample playing time for incoming freshmen L.J. Collier and Chris Bradley.

What to watch: Who takes over for Jon Lewis?

Lewis leaving the team came unexpectedly, especially after a successful 2013 season where he recorded 4.5 sacks (second on the team) and led the team with 11 tackles for loss. Enter Tevin Lawson, who saw action in eleven games as a true freshman last season. Although he didn't put up huge numbers with 7 tackles and 1 tackle for loss, Lawson is a big interior lineman at 6-foot-4, 280-pounds. Lawson could be on the brink of a breakout season with more playing time ahead.

Breakout player: Terrell Lathan

Tuaua could be the player to watch this spring
Lathan had somewhat of a breakout year in 2013 leading the Frogs with 5 sacks. Lathan gives the Frogs a great player on the end and certainly displayed enough speed last year to make plays against some of the Big 12's top left tackles. What's best about Lathan is his ability to play either inside or outside on the defensive line. With Fields health still up in the air, Lathan will get every opportunity to prove that he can be the next great defensive end in the Frogs' scheme.

Keep an eye on: Mike Tuaua

Tuaua was a pleasant surprise last season after injuries forced the JUCO transfer to get more playing time. The junior played in all 12 games last season and started three of them. Like Lathan, Tuaua lined up at defensive end and tackle last season and responded with 4.5 tackles for loss. He will likely rotate between the two positions to start the spring.

Spring predictions
- McFarland and Lathan start at left and right end respectively
- Henderson and Carraway impress
- Tuaua is the talk of the camp

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