Spring Preview: Defensive Line

Utah looks to reload on the defensive line after losing three starters

The Candidates
Hunter Dimick
Dimick had a strong freshman year in limited duty. He's a high motor guy that is a decent pass rusher and plays the run well. Could be Utah's most well rounded defensive lineman. Doesn't do anything great, but does a lot of things above average. Will compete for a starting spot opposite Orchard and could win the job.

Nate Orchard
Back for his third year as a starter, Orchard will be one of the leaders of the defense. Nate had a solid year in 2013, that wasn't quietly efficient. He has all of the tools to be an elite pass rusher and now will be the main guy on the defensive line.<

Pita Taumpoenu
Pita may have the highest ceiling of any player on the team, on either side of the ball, at any position. He has the tools to be an elite pass rusher, and this will be his first full camp. With the coaching he's received at Utah since arriving in August of last season, it could be time for a breakout.

Jason Fanaika
Never heard of him? You will. Fanaika is being touted as the next great pass rusher at Utah. He has the size to slip inside and play some DT as well, if needed, but will have a great shot at startin opposite Nate Orchard at the end spot. Has been consistently described as a physical freak.

Filipo Mokofisi
Mokofisi came to Utah as a raw athlete with great size. Still just tapping his potential, he's probably a year away from consistent playing time, but adds depth at both defensive end and has the frame to eventually move inside.

Seni Fauonuku
The little ball of fire is ready to take on a startin role. Seni has been effective in spot duty, showing a quick first step and the ability to chase down both the QB and a ball carrier. Not much of a gap stuffer, Seni still should be able to lock down at starting spot at defensive tackle.

Allani Havili
The true freshman is on campus early, which will benefit him in the long run. Not ready to contribute much in 2014, spring will be a learning experience that pays off down the road. Tons of upside though.

Sese Ianu
Sese, like Seni, is a bit undersized, but is as strong as anyone on the team. Now that he's been in the Utah program for 9 months, he's learned more and more about how to play the game instead of just overpowering people. Will compete for a starting spot, and could be a 'spring hero' candidate.

Stevie Tu'ikolovatu
Stevie T is coming off of an injury last year that forced him to miss the season. Gained a little weight while off and will need to drop a lot of that to get into the heavy rotation, but is a high upside guy, assuming he's fully healed.

Daniel Nielson
Nielson is a huge kid that made the move over from offensive line. He's a goal-line run stuffer who has made strides in the last year.

Sam Tevi
Tevi played at DT last season and was scheduled to move to offensive line for 2014, but will instead stick on defense. He's a high motor guy that has sneaky athleticism and will definitely be in the 2 deep. Can play both end and tackle.

Projected Depth Chart Heading Into Spring
Nate Orchard
Pita Taumoepenu

Seni Fauonuku
Daniel Neilson

Sese Ianu
Stevie Tu'ikolvatu

Hunter Dimick
or Jason Fanaika

What Needs To Happen
Utah needs to replace multiple starters, including future NFL studs Trevor Reilly and Tenny Palepoi. That's not easy. Doesn't help when you're overall depth is lacking as well. Defensive end is a little thin, while tackle could be even thinner. The Utes need to find 5 more guys that can consistently make an impact alongside Nate Orchard. The Utes are well known for their stout defensive lines, and while this one has decent talent, much of it is unproven. You'll see multiple guys all over the depth chart in the spring, but finding consistency could leave things very much in the air as we head into the fall.

Projected Depth Chart Coming Out of Spring
Nate Orchard
Pita Taumoepenu

Seni Fauonuku
Pasoni Tasini

Sese Ianu
Sam Tevi

Jason Fanaika
Hunter Dimick


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