Overview of the spring position: the D line

For the Washington Husky defensive staff, recruiting a defensive lineman wasn’t a big deal during the Jimmy Lake days. Studs like Danny Shelton, Vita Vea, Greg Gaines and Levi Onwuzurike have come to UW with solid accolades, and each has topped those stars next to their name on sports site 247 during their Husky careers.

High-rated talent continued to enter the program, but the results weren’t as good for the three- and four-star defensive linemen who joined the Huskies in recent classes.

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2021: Not great

Defensive line play in 2021 was everywhere. The Huskies were some of the worst in the Pac-12 at stopping the run, and while it was often the LBs that got lost (or got sucked in), or the DBs that whistled (or took lousy angles), it all starts with filling the gaps inside, clearing the blockers and getting some fucking PUSH.

When I think back to games in 2021 (ouch), the only defensive lineman you see standing up and making his way into the backfield was Tuli Letuligasanoa (#91). It’s a far cry from Vea and Gaines fending off two guys at once.

Letuligasanoa is certainly the budding star of this D-Line unit, but the closet is far from empty for new defensive line coach Inoke Breckterfield. Some guys splashed a bit last season, while some guys we were expecting to see didn’t show they were ready for some extended game action.

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Departures and key additions

Departures: Sam (Taki) Taimani – Moved to Oregon

How Much Will UW Miss Taimani? That remains to be seen. His PFF ratings aren’t bad, nor are they great. He was among the highest in number of defensive snaps, but one of the lowest in pressing. His run-stopping ratings were good, but one thing Taimani rarely did was do and impact the game. Taki falls under the classification of “He was the best we’ve had healthy in his position.” It’s always too optimistic to say that there were better players than the one who played regularly; because if there had been, they would have played more, no matter how bad Lake and his team were.

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Additions: Freshman twins Jayvon and Armon Parker were picked up by Kalen Deboer and his team at Fordson HS in Dearborn, MI. The two under-the-radar 3-star linemen are both in the 6’3” 290ish range. We just don’t know anything about these guys other than that UW was their best offer (Armon had an Illinois offer, Jayvon had no other P5 offers).

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Defensive line list

Ulumoo beer6’6″ 355 Rs JR

Jacob Bands6’2” 295 Rs SW

Draco Bynum6’4″ 280 Rs JR

Siaosi Finau6’3” 315 Rs FR

Tuli Letugasenoa6’2” 300 Rs JR

Bradley McGannon6’4” 280 Rs FR (Walking)

Noa Ngalu6’1″ 275 Rs SW

Armon Parker6’3″ 284 FR

Jayvon Parker6’3” 296 FR

Kuao Peihopa6’3” 300 Rs FR

Brody Reese6’1” 310 Rs FR (Walk)

Faatui Tuitele6’3″ 305 Rs SW

See Tunuufi, NT 6’1″ 275 SO

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The rotation

Well, with Spring Ball opening next week, we can preface all this “rotation” talk by saying that someone’s probably going to scare us on the first day of camp by not being healthy. . Maybe we’re lucky and everyone’s ready to go, but don’t count on that.

The defensive line is anchored by tuli Letugasenoa (#91), entering his FIFTH season with the Huskies (it’s crazy). After earning honorable mention All-Pac 12 in 2021, Tuli is looking to keep improving. He needs to focus a bit more on his responsibilities to become a better run defender, but his power and brilliance make him a disruptive force that can put an opponent in long distance and kill drives. Letugasenoa remained healthy last season after not seeing much action in the shortened 2020 season due to injury. Tuli got his feet wet like a real moss and then in 2019 became part of the regular defensive tackle rotation, playing in 12 of 13 games. It’s a long list of names looking to work alongside Letuligasenoa on the UW defensive front, and there’s no shortage of highly drafted players for this playing time.

Faatui Tuitele (#99) A 6-foot-3, 305-pound, red-shirted Sophomore from Honolulu was Hawaii’s MVP of 2019 and was a huge advantage for UW after offers from Alabama, Clemson, Hawaii state of Ohio, Texas and just about everyone else. His upside is great and Tuitele was playing better and better until he got injured and missed the last three games. Getting closer to 100% healthy is key for this big guy, as he’s battled injury bugs throughout his career.

Voi Tunuufi (#90) took over the Husky defensive scheme and executed it well enough to often find himself on the field as a true freshman. So if you’re looking for someone who can learn William Inge’s defense and be ready to contribute, Tunuufi is that kind of player who studies quickly. He had some big moments last season, and the former Salt Lake City 3-star is an explosive man at 280 pounds.

Jacob Bands (#96) – who was ranked (10) one spot behind Tuitele (9) in the 2019 National Recruiting Rankings at DT – has played in every game for the past two seasons. Bandes finished fourth in total defensive snaps a season ago among returning DTs, recording just 21 games less than Tunuufi. Although he didn’t make much noise, his PFF rating (67) was better than Tunuufi (45) or Tuitele (54).

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The rest

The four players above return with by far the most experience and have strong enough credentials to be the supposed rotation at the defensive line position. But with new staff and a ton of needed upgrades, things are wide open to competition.

Ulumoo beer (#68) intrigued everyone, mainly because of its monstrous size. When I heard he was moving in defense, my first thought wasn’t “Oh good, the next Vita Vea”, it was “Oh shit, who’s hurt?”

There’s not much to analyze about Ale as an NT other than it would be thrilling to hear he cracks both deep.

Draco Bynum (#59), like Tuli Letuligasenoa, is entering his fifth year with the Huskies. Unlike Tuli, Bynum hasn’t seen much of the pitch. He risks being completely buried deep, as a rookie Kuao Peihopa (#98) and second year Noa Ngalu (#92) both received more playing time than junior RS Bynum a year ago. Siaosi Finau (#93), Hawaii native and Renton HS star, wore a red shirt a season ago and didn’t play at all.

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