Projecting Utah's Defensive Line

Looking ahead to the 2011 and where the Utes stand on the defensive line...

Projected 2011 Defensive Line

Defensive End: Derrick Shelby (Sr.), Trevor Reilly (So.)
Defensive Tackle: Sealver Siliga (Sr.) Star Lotulelei (Jr.)
Defensive Tackle: Dave Kruger (Jr.), Latu Heimuli (So.)
Defensive End: Joe Kruger (So.), James Aiono (Sr.)

The Utes are unbelievably loaded on the defensive line. This line is arguably the deepest in the country. It might go from that, to flat out the best in the entire country in 2011. Losing the leadership of Christina Cox and that athleticism of Junior Tui'one is never easy to replace, but Derrick Shelby and Joe Kruger have more upside than either Cox or Tui'one and are both going to be in the NFL eventually. Shelby has battled injuries, but when healthy, is the best defensive end on the team. He's a physical freak and could have a big 2011 if he can get healthy. Kruger is like an ox with his strength. He bull-dozes through his blocker and is developing a few pass rushing moves. He's going to be a good one. Trevor Reilly is the best pure pass rusher on the team right now, but doesn't have the bulk or experience to do anything other than rush the passer at this point. With another season in the weight room, Reilly can add more weight and help himself in the run game. James Aiono would start for the majority of teams in the country right now. Instead, he's a third stringer with the Utes. Aiono will get more reps next season and could beat out Joe Kruger at the strong-side defensive end spot.

Sealver Siliga and Dave Kruger are going to be All Conference players this season. In 2011, Siliga should make a push as an All American while Kruger should be a fringe All American. Sealver shuts down the run as well as any DT in the conference and has been consistently blowing up the opposing team's offensive line. Behind them Latu Heimuli is a future All American and NFL talent. He has as much upside as any freshmen defensive tackle in the nation. Star Lotulelei has been impressive this year and has unreal size. If he can hone his technique, the sky is the limit for Lotulelei.

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