Utah heads into spring with a ton of talent on the offensive line

Utah's offensive line heads into spring with a loaded group that could be the Pac 12's best

Utah's offensive line in 2016 is going to be the strength on offense, and could end up being the best line in the entire Pac 12. With 5 guys with starting experience returning and 8 guys that are quality and ready Pac 12 players, the Utes not only have plenty of talent, they have loads of depth. The infusion of talent over the last few years with guys like Barton, Bolles, and Paulo, combined with the development of Asiata, Dielman, Uhatafe and others gives Utah a group that has the potential to be special, and make their 2016 quarterback look very good.

The Returning Starters

Isaac Asiata (Sr)

Asiata has been starting game since his freshman year and is coming off of an all Pac 12 honorable mention campaign in 2015. He has the most nasty of any of the returning linemmen, something that was missing at times for the line as a whole last season. Doesn't have the highest ceiling of anyone on the line, but is solid in every aspect and has turned into a more than reliable candidate that should be able to hold his starting spot.

JJ Dielman (Sr)

JJ Dielman was kind of Utah's Mr. Reliable on the offensive line in 2015, notching second team all Pac 12 honors at the right tackle spot. The question in 2016? Where do you play him? Dielman came to Utah to be a center, but has been more than serviceable at the tackle spot. With the Garrett Bolles coming in and Sam Tevi and Jackson Barton on board, he could slide inside to guard where there's more of a need, or go the Zane Taylor route and be the man in the mddle. His versatility will make him a starter. The question is, where?

Salesi Uhatafe (Jr)

Uhatafe is coming off of an up and down year in which he was solid in his run blocking, but often struggled in pass protection. He's an athletic kid with good size who has a higher ceiling than most on the line, but needs to be more consistent with his play. With Utah's sudden glut of options on the line, he'll be in a battle to hold his starting spot that he often shared last season.

Sam Tevi (Sr)

Tevi may be the best overall athlete, but looked lost playing the positon the first half of 2015. Things seemed to click over the second half of the year, especially in the pass blocking and if that carries over to 2016. if Tevi continues to build on that late season momentum, he'll have a great chance at holding down a starting spot. If not, he could be pushed into a backup role.

The New Guy

Garrett Bolles (Jr)

Utah pulled off one of the coups of the year in landing the 5 star JC offensive lineman and number 1 overall junior college recruit in Bolles. He's a giant of a man with  very good athleticism and a lot of nasty. He should be able to step right in to the left tackle spot and grab it as his own with his combination of devastating run blocking and overpowering run blocking. Anything less would be disappointing.

The Contenders

Hiva Lutui (Sr)

Lutui actually started 7 games in 2015 at center and guard, so you could put him in the returning starter category, but a starting spot isn't a given by any means. He's the probable favorite at the center spot with the departure of Siaosi Aiono, but there were some snapping issues when he was the man under center last season. Still, he's a veteran lineman who knows the offense and is a solid run blocker. Not a high ceiling, but solid and you know what you're getting. Could end up grabbing a spot at any of the three interior spots, but expect him in the middle.

Nick Nowakowski (Sr)

The former walk-one worked his way up the depth chart and looked like he could be a future starter at center or guard, but seems to have platued a bit. Has experience having played each of the last two seasons and will factor into the two deep, but winning out for a starter role will be tough. Backup center is the logical spot.

Jackson Barton (So)

So much promise and potential out of Barton, and at times we saw flashes in 2015, but it's still a work in progress. His technique remains a bit sloppy and his on-field awareness wasn't where it should have been in his second year in the program. Will this be the year he makes the big leap? If he does, Barton is going to impress a lot of people.

The Youngsters

Darrin Paulo (R-Fr)

Paulo would normally be in the mix for playing time after impressing the coaches as a true freshman last season on the scout team, but with Utah's depth, he'll be hard pressed to find much meaningful time. He has the ideal body to be an all conference player at tackle eventually and should figure into the mix as a possible backup.

Nick Carman (R-Fr)

Carman redshirted last season and is a future option as a guard for the Utes, but is still a year or two away from making an impact.

Keven Dixon (R-Fr)

Dixon is an intriguing prospect that has some upside, but will need to continue to develop his body and hone his game while fighting for a spot in the rotation. Still a year or two away.

Johnny Capra (R-Fr)

Capra has good size and will eventually be in the rotation at tackle, but with Utah's depth, that's unlikely to happen in 2016.

Projected Depth Chart

Left Tackle

Garrett Bolles

Jackson Barton

Left Guard

Isaac Asiata

Nick Nowakowski

Center

Hiva Lutui

Nick Nowakowski

Right Guard

Salesi Uhatafe

Sam Tevi

Right Tackle

JJ Dielman

Sam Tevi


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