BYU football: The defensive ends are poised to break out

Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports /

The BYU football program has a stable of talented defensive ends. This group is deep, and poised to bring an improved pass rush in 2017.

First, let’s examine the returning ends. BYU football has multiple defensive ends that have gained some experience as young guns, showed flashes of their ability, and should now be ready to break through as upper-classmen.

Sione Takitaki, 6-2/245, Junior

Up to this point Sione has teased Cougar nation with his immense talent. As a sophomore in 2015 he proved to be very disruptive off the edge as an outside linebacker (in just 6 games he produced 3.5 sacks, 2 QB hurries and 7 tackles for loss). His switch to a rush-end position in Ilaisa Tuiaki’s 4-3 defense will be a key story for BYU Football this season.

It’s been a long road back for Sione after sitting out the 2016 campaign. He appears highly motivated to wreck shop in his return:

Corbin Kaufusi, 6-9/285, Junior

Moving from the hardwood to the gridiron, Corbin saw a lot more action in his first season of Division 1 football than many could have expected. Playing in all 13 games and starting 5, Kaufusi collected 31 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 2 QB hurries, and blocked 2 kicks with his 6’9″ frame. Corbin was very raw last season, expect to see a breakthrough year in 2017 with more experience.

Moses Kaumatule, 6-2/275, RS Junior

In his sophomore campaign Moses played in 12 games, starting 3, and produced 2.5 sacks, 2.5 tackles for loss, 1 QB hurry and 3 passes broken up. The former Bingham High star is no doubt poised for a strong junior season.

Trajan Pili, 6-2/245, RS Sophomore

Trajan saw action in all 13 games last season as a freshman and showed some promising flashes, collecting 2.5 sacks and 5 tackles for loss along the way. The former 3-star recruit from Las Vegas could make some real noise in 2017.

Next, let’s take a look at the the young blue chips. Loaded with talent and upside, these guys were huge recruiting wins for BYU.

Uriah Leiataua 6-4/265, RS freshman

He spurned offers from big name programs such as USC, UCLA, Stanford and Wisconsin to sign with BYU back in 2014. Uriah red-shirted the 2016 season after his return from a mission. He’s one to watch in 2017.

Lorenzo Fauatea 6-4/265, Freshman 

He turned down offers from Utah, Oregon State and Boise State as part of the class of 2017. He has the talent to make an impact as a true freshman.

Langi Tuifua 6-3/210, Freshman

Tuifua was a consensus 4-star prospect who signed with BYU over offers from Michigan, Oregon, Louisville and Utah. There is the question of how much weight he can put on during the off-season, but his talent in rushing the passer is special.

Looking at this list, the defensive end position looks like it could legitimately go 6 or 7 deep in 2017.

Defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki will take over the defensive line coaching duties this season. His great success as a D-line coach at Utah only adds to the intrigue.

Watching the development of this group of defensive ends will be a key position group to monitor in 2017. An improved pass rush off the edge would be huge for BYU football.