2015 Position Analysis & Recruiting Needs: DL

We look at Utah's 2015 defensive line group and needs for the 2015 recruiting class

Defensive End
Jason Fanaika (Sr)
Hunter Dimick (Jr)
Pita Taumoepenu (Jr)
Moana Ofahengaue (So)
Filipo Mokofisi (So)

Defensive Tackle
Seni Fauonuku (Sr)
Pasoni Tasini (Sr)
Daniel Nielson (Sr)
Stevie Tu'ikolovatu (So)
Allani Havili (R-Fr or So)
Vaha Vaenuku (R-Fr or So)
Lowell Lotulelei (R-Fr or So)

Utah tends to find some local under the radar guys that come back from missions or are former walk-ons that turn into players on the defensive line, but counting on that to happen consistently is foolish. Compounding the problem is the current situation with Moana Ofahengaue who recently suffered a head injury following a motorized bike accident. Whether or not Ofahengaue will ever play again is unknown.

The depth isn't there at defensive end. Nate Orchard is gone and outside of Hunter Dimick, no one has played much. 2014 will be an important year in getting reps for some of the younger guys at times, and developing someone into an elite pass rusher.

Dimick is a versatile guy, but tends to play the run better than the pass. Taumoepenu is as raw as anyone on the team with TONS of upside. If he figures out the game, Pita T. has ferocious pass rusher written all over him. Like Pita, Mokofisi is just scratching the surface of what he'll be able to do. If he can continue his development into 2015, Filipo will work his way into the two deep.

The guy that may end up emerging is Jason Fanaika, the transfer from Utah State. Early reports on Fanaika (who redshirted in 2013) is that he'll be a star by his senior year, if not earlier.

The tackle spot is much less worrisome. The Utes are loaded with tons of young depth that will use the 2014 season to round their games into form. Pasoni Tasini will return, and could be coming off of a starting season from 2014. Seni Fauonuku will be a senior, and although limited at times, is still a ball of energy that makes big plays.

The youth movement at tackle starts with Lowell Lotulelei. If he's half the player that his brother was, Utah will be getting a good one. Stevie Tu'ikolovatu has great size and a high ceiling. He'll just need be healed from the injury that kept him out for 2013. Vaha Vaenuku could end up at offensive guard, but we'll slot him at defensive tackle for now, and adds depth along with Allani Havili.

While the overall talent and depth on the line still isn't at a Pac 12 level, with the proper development, Utah could hit that mark by 2015. Still, they're going to want to continue loading up on athletic ends, and big tackles in the 2015 class. Expect a couple of local commits with California having a down year on the defensive line, especially at defensive end.

Utah Should Take:5 total (2 DTs, 3 DEs)
Utah Will Take: 4

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