2013 Position Review: Defensive Line

With 2013 in the books, Utah has once again produced one of the best defensive line's in the country.

With the strength of the Utes' defense once again expected to be the defensive line this season, this came to be true as this group was once again one of the top defensive line's in the country.

The D-line was able to get after opposing quarterbacks all season long, and when it was all said and done, ended the season tied for 1st in the country in sacks per game with 3.25 per.

One reason this line was so good this season, future NFL stud and First Team All-Pac-12 DE/LB Trevor Reilly. The man did it all for the Utes, and was the anchor to not only the defense, but the entire team. Anywhere the ball went, Reilly was sure to be there. And his 100 tackles, 16.5 TFL, 9 sacks, FF, and INT are a fantastic illustration of that. While Reilly will surely be missed at Utah, you have to feel good for the guy who has gone through more than one can imagine the past couple of years, and will now get his opportunity to play on Sundays. While some may question Reilly with his past injuries, there is no doubt in my mind that he will have a solid career in the NFL and will be a starter for many years to come.

Tenny Palepoi is another future NFL player on this defensive line, who clogged up holes and absolutely embarrassed players who lined up in front of him more times than I can count. While being named to the Athlon All-Pac 12 First Team, Tenny ended the season with 53 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 4.5 sacks, and a FF, and is now well on his way to preparing himself for the NFL.

LT Tuipulotu is the another senior in this group who ended the season with 42 tackles, 3 TFL, 1.5 sacks, and a FF. While the NFL isn't likely for LT, it is fair to say that he was more than serviceable for Utah in his 5 years as a Ute. And will go down as another solid defensive lineman with that Polynesian blood to play for Utah.

Nate Orchard was the only starter on the line who wasn't a senior and will come back next season for the Utes. While the inconsistency of Nate's play can be frustrating, he continues to display flashes of greatness, and is one of the players I am very excited to watch next season. Nate ended the season with 49 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 3 sacks, and 3 FF, and while I have seen NFL scouts rave about him during drills, a big year in 2014 is absolutely crucial for Nate.

With the departure of Reilly, Palepoi, Tuipulotu, Heimuli, and Palamo, it will be fun to watch who steps up between now and August 28th and fills the shoes of the departing seniors. While many people may be nervous about the ability to fill these shoes, I don't think we will see that steep of a dropoff on the line between this season and next.

Beginning of Season Depth Chart:
Nate Orchard (Jr)
Jason Whittingham (So)

Tenny Palepoi (Sr)
Viliseni Fauonuku (So)

LT Tuipolotu (Sr)
Sese Ianu (Jr)

Trevor Reilly (Sr)
Jason Whittingham

End of Season Depth Chart:
Nate Orchard (Jr)
Thretton Palamo (Sr)

Tenny Palepoi (Sr)
Latu Heimuli (Sr)
or Sam Tevi (Fr)

LT Tuippulotu (Sr)
Sese Ianu (Jr)

Trevor Reilly (Sr)
Hunter Dimick (R-Fr)

Early Projected Spring Depth Chart:
Nate Orchard (Sr)
Jason Fanaika (R-Jr)

Viliseni Fauonuku (R-Jr)
Stevie Tu'ikolovatu (R-So)

Sese Ianu (Sr)
Stevie Tu'ikolovatu

Hunter Dimick (R-So)
LT Filiaga (Jr)

Way Too Early Projected Fall Depth Chart:
Nate Orchard
Jacoby Hale

Stevie Tu'ikolovatu
Seni Fauonuku

Sese Ianu
Seni Fauonuku

Hunter Dimick
Jason Fanaika

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