The only returning starter on the defensive line, Fakahafua didn't deliver on the expectations many had in 2012. He's still young, and a tremendous athlete. Expect Fakahafua to have another big spring, as he did last year. He'll just need to carry that over into the fall and the 2013 season.
Looking for a breakout star in 2013? Palepoi is your guy. The senior is going to be one of the defensive leaders and is ready to take over as the dominant defensive line force on the team. Has great size and a lot of potential that really emerged towards the end of 2013.Palepoi's starting spot is very secure.
The big bowling ball of energy. Fauonuku doesn't have the measurables you look for in an ideal DT, but he's got the skills and the motor. Unbelievably quick for someone of his build, the sophomore-to-be looks poised to take over a starting spot after impressing during limited action in 2012.
Dimick enrolled early in 2012 to take part in spring ball. He performed well early before hitting a wall in the fall and taking a redshirt season. With the lack of depth currently on the roster and the glut of incoming freshmen defensive ends, Dimick needs to use this spring to separate himself and solidify a spot in the two-deep.
The redshirt freshman was one of the surprises on the scout team in 2012. Will he be able to carry that momentum into spring when the Utes are looking for depth? Now is the time for him to show that he's a Pac 12 level player before all of the new guys arrive in the fall.
The former Rugby star may be the most athletic player on the roster, but he's still learning to play the game of football. If he can put it all together mentally and made strides in the offseason, Palamo could be a surprise player in the spring. Regardless, with the lack of depth at the defensive end spot, he'll likely be in the two deep.
Will Reilly be a defensive end or a defensive tackle? I think we can expect both out of the senior, and the guy who should be the leader of the defense. He played much of last year with an injury which hampered his production. If healthy, Reilly can be an all conference player.
Heimuli is moving back to his more appropriate position of defensive tackle, where he played evry well as a redshirt freshman. Now, he just needs to stay healthy after battling multiple injuries over the past few years. Utah needs playmakers on the defensive line and Heimuli has the skills to do that if he can stay on the field.
LT hasn't shown the ability to be a Pac 12 player yet. This is his last chance, but the likelihood is he'll add depth.
Projected Depth Chart Heading Into Spring
Trevor Reilly or
What Needs To Happen
What was once a huge strength with tons of depth is looking pretty thin these days in Salt Lake City. The Utes lost three defensive linemen starters from last season in All American Star Lotulelei and the Kruger brothers. That leaves Nate Fakahafua as the only returning starter in 2013 on the line (although Trevor Reilly shuffled back and forth between end and linebacker as a starter). The Utes need to find someone that can consistently clog the middle and one or two pass rushers that can show an ability to pick up 8 or more sacks in 2013. It's been years since Utah has had a feared pass-rusher. Fakahafua needs to show that he's ready to take that next step and be a consistent pass rusher. The young guys have to show that they're ready to contribute when called upon. You're going to see a ton of different looks out of Utah with their defensive line. The base defense is still going to be a 4-3, but you'll see a lot of 3-4 (maybe more than the 4-3), and even 3-3-5 looks during spring. The Utes need to find a way to slow down the spread offenses in the Pac 12 and that means getting more speed on the field, which will often have them working with 3 down linemen quite a bit. We're also told that Derek Tuimauga will be on the defensive line as a tackle now that he has returned from his mission and could surprise some people.
Projected Depth Chart Coming Out of Spring
Spring Preview: Defensive Line
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