The Utes had arguably the deepest defensive line the country in 2010, and despite the loss of three starters, the depth was still there heading into spring ball. With an offensive line replacing two new starters and without Jordan Wynn under center, the defensive line thrived.
Star Lotulelei is going to be the star of the defensive line and probably the star of the defense. He's shed weight from last season to add quickness, but doesn't seem to have lost any strength, as he dominated the interior of the Utah offensive line throughout camp. Lotulelei is going to be an all conference player and see double teams throughout the season.
That should help out the other defensive tackles in James Aiono and Dave Kruger. Kruger was a starter for most of his first two seasons, but has been caught by Aiono on the depth chart and didn't have his best spring. Aiono looks like he's finally found the right position after playing at end as well in 2010. With the weigh he added in the offseason, the former highly rated JUCO star looks like he is finally strong enough to do battle with the boys offensive line.
LT Tuipolotu played surprisingly well at the defensive tackle spot and should provide solid depth. He's not ideal in terms of size, but plays with a mean streak and did so throughout camp.
Defensive tackle Latu Heimuli sat out the spring with an injury and appears to be heading out on a mission before the season. He's an elite talent who was really rounding into form at the end of the season in 2010 and will be missed.
Joape Pela is in the same boat as Tuipolotu, and will add depth, but didn't have the spring some expected and dropped out of the two deep.
The breakout star of spring ball on the defensive line was sophomore Joe Kruger. Kruger outplayed his older and more celebrated brother and looked like the best defensive end at times. His unbelievable strength, combined with deceptive speed could make him the best Kruger yet.
Derrick Shelby looked to be at his best since suffering a season ending knee injury in 2009. The step that he seemed to have lost last season is making his way back as he was solid in both run stopping and getting to the quarterbacks. Shelby has some pretty nice moves coming off of the edge.
Tevita Finau didn't do much to stand out during the spring, but was solid in his play. While he'll never be a star, he's about as consistent as they come for the Utes at the defensive end spot.
Eric Dago was impressive after making the move to the line from linebacker. He's got strong legs and gets good leverage. Might be a year away from making a huge impact, but looks good at the moment.
Overall Defensive Line Grade: B+
Inside The Utes Depth Chart Coming Out of Spring Ball
Spring Recap- Defensive Line
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