Another year and another elite group of defensive linemen for the Utes. Every year there's talent and depth. This year, the talent and depth is in a whole new stratosphere. Good luck finding a better group in the Pac 12, if not the country.
The Big Names:
Lowell Lotulelei (Jr)
The rock in the middle and arguably the most talented player on the roster, regardless of position. Lowell has carved out a pretty good career so far at Utah, following in his brother's footsteps. After a first team all Pac 12 season last year, he'll be one of the preseason favorites for conference defensive player of the year, and on multiple preseason all american lists.
Filipo Mokofisi (Jr)
Mokofisi battled injuries at times in 2015, which hurt his production, but he's an all Pac 12 level talent waiting to happen. He's never going to be a big stats guy, but Mokofisi is a disrupter that is the perfect compliment to Lotulelei. Easily the best interior duo in the conference.
Stevie Tu'ikolovatu (Sr)
After really starting to make a name for himself in 2015, Stevie T could be ready to break out in 2016. He's battled some injuries in his career, but when healthy has been a space eater and a play maker.
Kylie Fitts (Jr)
After a big 2015 in place of an inured Hunter Dimick, Utah is going to expect even more from Fitts, who is a future NFL defensive end. Fitts is a good athlete, but really excels with his instincts on the field. Don't expect him to be Utah's best pass rusher, but he's arguably their most well-rounded lineman.
Hunter Dimick (Sr)
Dimick is coming off of a disappointing 2015 season where he wasn't productive when he played, but spent most of the year on the sidelines with an injury. He's still considered a solid pass rusher with a lightning-quick first step. Combine that with great anticipatory skills and he should be able to bounce back, especially with Fitts across from him.
Pita Taumoepenu (Sr)
Pita continues to be a one-trick pony, but he does it as well as pretty much anyone in the conference. A third down terror off of the edge with elite speed and violent hands, he had a very good first half to the 2015 season before tailing off down the stretch. Somehow he's going to be a senior this year and it's his last chance to prove to NFL scouts that he can be a double digit sack man.
Pasoni Tasini (Sr)
Tasini got some run last year, and with the departure of Fauonuku, figures to battle for a spot in the two deep. He's not a huge interior lineman, but is fairly athletic and Utah can use him in a few ways.
Clarence Smith (Jr)
Smith came to Utah as a linebacker, ended up at safety, moved up to linebacker, and is now a defensive end. He's an athletic kid, but has never been able to crack the rotation. Maybe this is a the year.
Kyle Christiansen (R-Fr)
Christiansen is a mammoth human being, but probably needs to lose a bit more weight if he wants to see the field. Combine that with Utah's depth, and he's still a year away from making much of an impact.
Chris Hart (R-Fr)
Hart came to Utah with a lot of promise, and after a redshirt year, is ready to deliver. He's very athletic and has a great frame. If the game has slowed down for the Florida kid, he'll be ready to contribute, and the coaches are very excited about what he brings.
Vaha Vaenuku (So)
Vaenuku is an intriguing prospect coming. Coming off of a mission last year, he didn't make an impact, but should be in better shape heading into the spring. The defensive tackle depth chart will be tough to crack, but he's probably the first guy to get in there if there's an injury.
Alani Havili-Katoa (So)
Havili-Katoa hasn't been able to crack the rotation, playing solely on special teams so far. He's got a good frame, but is somewhat limited athletically.
Projected Depth Chart