Fall Camp Preview: Offensive Line

Taking a look at the big boys in the trenches and what to expect in Fall camp

When looking at the past history of Utah's offensive line entering Fall camp, it has not been a pretty picture. In the past, Utah has heavily relied on incoming JUCO prospects to secure a starting spot, and have also had to deal with a lot of injuries and the shuffling of players between different positions. This year, Utah enters fall camp with the same five starters from spring ball and look to capitalize on a very productive spring, in order to establish themselves as a strength on this team. Most of the starting spots have been, and will remain secured come game one of the season, but look for there to be a fierce competittion at the right tackle spot this Fall.

The Candidates:

SO-Jeremiah Poutasi: Poutasi came to Utah last year as a 4 star tackle out of Nevada, and was quickly thrown in to the starting lineup when he got his first start against BYU in the third game of the season. As you can expect, Poutasi had an up and down freshman season, but displayed the potential to be one of the best offensive lineman in Utah history. This year, Poutasi moves from RT to LT and will have to improve his foot speed and pass blocking if he is to adequately protect the QB's blindside. If he can continue improving as he did in spring ball, he's got NFL written all over him.

SR-Jeremiah Tofaeono: There's no question that Tofaeono is one of the vocal leaders for the Utah offense, but the redshirt senior needs to improve his consistency this year at LG in order to lead by example as well. Tofaeono is big and strong, and is one of the more experienced players on an offensive line that appears to be markedly better from last year.

SR-Vyncent Jones: Jones has been given a tough task this year, as he must replace a three year starter in Tevita Stevens at center. Luckily for the Utes, Jones is a very smart and versatile player that has played both center and guard in his three years of playing experience. Jones started 8 games last year at both left and right guard, so he has the experience to step in and perfrom at a high level right away.

JR-Junior Salt: Salt came to Utah last year from Mt. San Antonio Junior College, and was recruited to play defensive tackle, even though he played guard in junior college. After an ankle injury in fall camp, Salt was forced to redshirt last year, and was also moved from defensive tackle to guard to provide more depth at a position that was sorely under performing. After getting healthy towards the end of the season, coaches flirted with the thought of burning his redshirt and playing him at guard, voting ultimately to save his redshirt season. As for his talent, Salt is very strong and is a great presence in the run game, but needs to improve his pass blocking in the Fall.

SO-Siaosi Aiono: Aiono made the switch from guard to right tackle in spring ball this year, and although he lacks prototypical size for a tackle, being only 6'2, Aiono is very aggressive and showed good technique in the spring. He's slated currently as the starter at RT going in to fall camp, but he will have to continue his upward trend if he is to fend off other suitors for the position.

JR-Andrew Albers: Albers is an interesting story, as he committed to Utah out of high school in 2011 as a preferred walk on, but left the team shortly afterwards to become a youth pastor. Fortunately for Utah, Albers couldn't keep football off his mind and started playing again at Orange Coast College, before committing once again to Utah last year. Alber has a big frame, at 6'7-310 pounds, and will look to beat out Siaosi Aiono as the starting right tackle.

JR-Carlos Lozano: Lozano is another interesting story, as he may be the biggest player to ever play for the University of Utah. Lozano stands 6'8 and weighs 380 pounds, but had to work extremely hard to get to 380 pounds, as he showed up to Utah last year weighing in at 400+ pounds. That's a large man. Even though he is so big, Lozano displays good footwork and once he gets engaged with a defender, it's extremely hard to get off his block. With Lozano being at much more managable weight this year, look for him to provide instant depth at either tackle position.

SO-Derek Tuimauga: It's been a long time since Utah fans have seen the Bingham High School product, as he originally commited to Utah in 2010, picking Utah over Stanford. After serving an LDS mission for the past two years, Tuimauga quickly put his mark on the Utah offensive line this year in spring ball and has shown that he has the ability to instantly contribute as a back up, and potential starter down the road. Tuimauga

SR-Percy "Bot" Taumoelau: The Cottonwood High School product has had an up and down career for Utah, as he has been given ample amounts of opportunity to contribute to the offensive line, but has struggled with inconsistency for the past two years. After starting last year at right tackle, and being replaced by Poutasi in the third game, "Bot" has now moved to guard and looks to provide experience and depth to this offense in his last year of eligibility.

JR-Marc Pouvave: Pouvave came to Utah last year with high hopes from fans and coaches that he would be able to lock down one of the empty tackle spots, but unfortunately for Pouvave, he tore his achilles tendon just before fall camp and was forced to redshirt and rehab his injury. After a long rehab process that limited Pouvave's participation in spring ball, Pouvave is now healthy, but it remains to be seen if he can play at the same level that was expected of him, before the injury.

RS FR-Isaac Asiata: After coming home early from an LDS mission, Asiata quickly got up to speed and impressed coaches during spring ball this year. Asiata can play both guard and tackle, but is a more natural guard. The Spanish Fork High School product is unlikely to break through the starting lineup this year but has a ton of potential and will be huge asset for the Utes in coming years.

SO-Kala Friel: Friel is a relative unknown to a lot of Ute fans, as the redshirt sophomore only played two offensive snaps last season, but Friel came awfully close to playing a lot more than that last season. Friel had a great 2012 fall camp, and was considered by a lot of people to be a likely starter at tackle at the beginning of the season, but his strong start faded away towards the end of fall camp and he was ultimately passed up by more experienced players on the depth chart. Friel is versatile as he can play tackle or guard and will to provide depth at both positions.

RS FR-Hiva Lutui: Lutui came to Utah from Euless Trinity High School in Euless, Texas last year with high hopes from Utah fans and coaches to be a possible 4 year starter at center. Lutui is very aggressive and is a monster in the run game, but with the emergence of Vyncent Jones last year, it appears that Lutui's time to shine has been put on hold a year. The redshirt freshman will provide competittion at the center position which will not only prepare him to be a future starter, but also make current starter Vyncent Jones a better player as well.

RS FR-J.J. Dielman: Dielman is another versatile lineman as he has seen reps at both guard and tackle during his time at Utah, but his weight has been an issue for him as he is much lighter than the other lineman on the team. At 275 pounds, Dielman doesn't have the typical size that you'd like in a tackle or guard, but Dielman has excellent technique and with some weight gain over the next few years will be able to legitmately contend for a starting spot.

FR-Salesi Uhatafe: Uhatafe is another Euless Trinity product, and was the lone offensive line recruit that Utah brough in this year. At 6'4-320 pounds, Uhatafe has the ability to play either tackle or guard while at Utah, but will get his first look at tackle. Uhatafe is an excellent run blocker as that is what he did the majority of the time in high school. He'll need to work on his pass blocking technique and foot speed if he is going to continue to play tackle, and will benefit from a redshirt year in 2013.

Pre-Fall Depth Chart
LT: Jeremiah Poutasi; Carlos Lozano
LG: Jeremiah Tofaeono; Percy "Bot" Taumoelau
C: Vyncent Jones; Hiva Lutui
RG: Junior Salt; Derek Tuimauga
RT: Sioasi Aiono; Andrew Albers

Projected Post-Fall Depth Chart:
LT: Jeremiah Poutasi; Andrew Albers
LG: Jeremiah Tofaeono; Percy "Bot" Taumoelau
C: Vyncent Jones; Hiva Lutui
RG: Junior Salt; Derek Tuimauga
RT: Andrew Albers; Sioasi Aiono

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