2011 BYU Football Preview: Defensive Line


 

By: Mitch Harper 

There is officially a sports lull for all of the Cougar Center crew. Cougar Center Host Mitch Harper saw his Los Angeles Lakers go down in four-games to the Dallas Mavericks yesterday in the NBA Playoffs.  Mitch wasn’t too thrilled with that outcome, but what could possibly make him happy? Some BYU Football.  The cure to cure all.

Do you realize people we are less than three months from Camp Cougar a.k.a. Fall Camp? It is not far away. And here at Cougar Center we are ready to get the BYU football vibes going throughout this Summer lull of sports; until the Cougars hit the field for Fall Camp and the first game of Independence against Ole Miss on September 3rd.

This is the first installment of our positional previews for the 2011 BYU Football squad. Starting off with the Defensive Line.

Along with these previews, we will be discussing the 2011 units on the weekly Cougar Center Podcast (downloand/subscribe on iTunes) each Wednesday to go along with each positional preview.

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DEFENSIVE LINE PREVIEW

 Scheme: 3-4

Starters Lost: 1 (Vic So’oto, DE)

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 PROJECTED STARTERS

 

Defensive End: Eathyn Manumaleuna, Junior

Manumaleuna in his two seasons in Cougar Blue have had some memorable moments. The blocked Field Goal in the 2007 Las Vegas Bowl against UCLA, and in his next game 2 years later coming off a LDS mission Manumaleuna knocks down a Jake Locker 4th & 7 pass attempt to seal a Cougar victory. He’s made big plays and can play any spot on the Defensive Line. Trimmed down this off-season be more agile off the edge this year. Looks better than ever.

Defensive Tackle: Travis Tuiloma, Redshirt-Freshman

At only 18 years old, Tuiloma is turning heads and expected to be a starter this coming Fall at the DT spot. With Romney Fuga and Jordan Richardson still recovering from ACL injuries they suffered in the 2010 season, this is opening the door for the Kansas native and he’s not disappointing.

Tuiloma out of Washburn, Kansas never attended BYU’s campus when he committed to BYU. Always had a desire to play at BYU and he shows that with his zest for BYU Football and his fun, up-beat attitude. Will be a solid 3-technique DT and he’s nimble on his feet. This kid was nothing but impressive in Spring. Expect big things.

Out of high school, Tuiloma was planning on serving a mission. It’s not known at this time after the 2011 season if Tuiloma still plans on serving.

Defensive End: Graham Rowley, Sophomore

One of the more underrated recruits out of Hawaii in the fantastic Class of 2010; Graham Rowley is ready to make his name known by all Cougar faithful. Rowley was slated to redshirt (of course Bronco doesn’t officially redshirt anyone) last season but with the injuries to Fuga and Richardson, Rowley had to fill-in at DT rotating with Jordan Richardson then Manumaleuna once Richardson went down later in the season. Saw time in eight games last season.

Along with Tuiloma, Rowley is a young player who had a fantastic Spring and beat out upperclassman Matt Putnam to see most of his reps at the 1s. Don’t be surprised if that carries over to the Fall.

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KEY RESERVES

Romney Fuga (DT), Junior

Fuga is still recovering from the ACL injury that stemmed from the cheap shot from Nevada Offensive Lineman, John Bender. Despite that injury taking place in the fourth game of the 2010 season, Fuga received a medical redshirt year from the NCAA so he’s still a Junior. Fuga is still questionable for Fall Camp, but the staff believes he could be back for the season opener, but they do not want to rush his progress.

If healthy, Fuga has been a stout contributor on the D-line, having produced since his True Freshman season in 2006.

Jordan Richardson (DT/DE), Junior

Richardson is expected to possibly be good to go once Camp Cougar rolls around in August, who is still recovering from the ACL injury that he suffered in the 2nd Half of the blowout victory against Colorado State last season.

When Fuga went down last season, many people labeled the Defensive Tackle spot as a major concern. Richardson stepped in nicely starting in five straight games recording 17 tackles. A bright surprise from last year, once he gets healthy will add quality depth.

Hebron “Loni” Fangupo (DT), Senior

Transfer from USC. Fangupo has been a name BYU fans have heard about for years, and have always wondered if he would ever wear Cougar Blue. It took nearly seven years, but he is finally here in Provo to cap off his collegiate career. Fangupo is the epitome of what you would expect your Defensive Tackles to look like. He might in fact be the golden rule for what you want. Go Google the man if you haven’t already (I’m sure you have) and prepare to be in awe.

In his first semester at BYU during Spring Ball, Mendenhall had made it clear they will utilize his one year in Provo and get him on the field. He will be a key contriubtor and a run-stuffing force.

Matt Putnam (DE), Senior

The last player remaining in the program that was a member of a Gary Crowton recruiting class (2004). Putnam has seen some highs and lows in his Cougar Career. Came on stong as a back-up in 2008 and hasn’t quite progressed since that season. Some off the field issues with grades, etc. but he’s back this year and is the #1 back-up at DE and will see a ton of reps this year. At 6’8 still has that Ted Hendricks-like size from the edge and can knock down passes.

Mike Muehlmann (DE), Soph.

Switching over from the log-jam at Tight End during the Spring, Muehlmann is a guy who coaches feel could see time at Defensive End. He was figured to be one of the odd men out in the TE unit.

Matt Peterson (DE), Junior *Walk-On

Most Cougar fans right now reading this are saying, WHO??? Matt Peterson is a guy to keep on, really came on strong towards the end of the 2010 season and had a solid performance in the New Mexico Bowl to end the season. A 6’5 260 End from Riverton, Peterson had two tackles last year seeing time in the final four games of the 2010 season.

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RETURN MISSIONARIES

Ian Dulan (DE/DT), Senior

If the name sounds familiar, your right, it is familiar. Dulan was a three-year starter on the Defensive Line from 2006-2008. Although not the norm to go on a mission after playing three seasons, Dulan went on the mission.  The mission was also an opportunity for Dulan to recover his shoulder and knee which he had injuries to during his three seasons in Provo. Dulan still has a redshirt season, and is a likely candidate to have a redshirt this year.

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2011 INCOMING FRESHMEN

Moses Kaumatule (DE), Bingham High School (South Jordan, UT)

Expected to play Defensive End at BYU. Kaumatule is one of the incoming Freshmen who could be making an impact right away in the 2-Deep this Fall. Grew up his whole wanting to play for BYU.

Kaumatule is a 3-star recruit from Rivals and ESPN Scouts Inc., along with be considered a Top 100 recruit at his position by the same recruiting service. Kaumatule is one of four Bingham High players to sign with BYU in this class.

A player that can play any one of the spots on BYU’s 3-down lineman scheme. Coming from one of the most successful High School programs in the country the past two years in Bingham High School. Likely to serve mission after Freshman year.

Baker Pritchard (DE), Bingham High School (South Jordan, UT)

Pritchard was the 1st commitment of the 2011 class back in the Summer of 2009. Pritchard is the younger brother to current Linebacker/Fullback Iona Pritchard who is coming back from a mission this season.

One of the Top 10 recruits in the state of Utah this season. Has a lot of talent to be a very good hybrid type of athlete in Coach Mendenhall’s Defense, but initially is slated to play Defensive End. Will serve a mission after Freshman year.

Stehly Reden (DE), Valley Center High Scool (Valley Center, California)

Reden a 6’5, 225 Defensive End prospect looks likely to be a redshirt candidate in his first season. Planning on a mission after his Freshman year.

What landed his offer from BYU coaching staff is wingspan and overall athletic ability on the edge. Younger brother to former BYU Offensive Lineman, Garrett Reden. An overall interesting prospect but has some ways to go before being a key contributor at the D-1 level.

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CURRENT MISSIONARIES AT THE POSITION

Bronson Kaufusi (Returning in 2012; Serving in New Zeland)

One of the top DE recruits in the country in the Class of 2010 out of Timpview High School, Kaufusi will be in the program next year; multi-sport athlete (Basketball). Went on a mission straight out of high school. Suffered an ACL injury his senior year for the T-Birds, son to Defensive Line Coach, Steve Kaufusi.

Corbin Kaufusi (Returning in 2013)

A member of the 2011 Recruiting Class, the younger of the two Kaufusi brothers will be going on a mission straight out of Timpview High like his older brother. Corbin was a three-year starter at DE for the T-Birds.

Kesni Tausinga (Returing in 2013)

A member of the 2011 Recruiting Class, the third member of the Bingham D-Line that signed with BYU this past February. One of the Top 10 recruits from the state of Utah for the 2011 Class.

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THE REST OF THE UNIT

- Garrett Eskelsen (DE), Junior

- Kalama Kaluhiokalani (DT), Junior

A former rugby star, one of the strongest players on the team.

- Matt Shirley (DE), Soph.

- Simote Vea (DT), Senior

- Matthew Jensen (DT), Redshirt Freshman

- Josh Marquardt (DE), Soph.

Brother to former BYU players, Daniel and Michael. Michael eventually transferred to Arizona State.

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So what are your thoughts on the BYU Defensive Line for 2011?  Post your comments here on the site or Tweet us @Cougar_Center and your comment could be read on this week’s Cougar Center Podcast when we discuss this Defensive Line more in-depth on the show.

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Tags: Bronson Kaufusi Eathyn Manumaleuna Graham Rowley Hebron Fangupo Ian Dulan Moses Kaumatule Romney Fuga Steve Kaufusi Travis Tuiloma