Spring position breakdowns: DT

March, 3, 2014
Mar 3
5:30
PM PT
Our look at position groups in the Pac-12 continues.

Arizona: The Wildcats lose the steady Tevin Hood, the nose tackle in their 3-3-5 scheme. Last season he was backed up by rising senior Kirifi Taula and sophomore Dwight Melvin. They are undersized and combined for eight tackles, seven of which came from Taula. Two incoming juco guys should provide a boost. Jeff Worthy, a former Boise State player, at 6-foot-3, 290 pounds, could play any of three positions along the line, and there's also 280-pound recruit Jerod Cody.

[+] EnlargeDeForest Buckner
Steven Bisig/USA TODAY SportsDeForest Buckner will again anchor Oregon's defensive line in 2014.
Arizona State: The big loss obviously is Will Sutton, the two-time Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. In the Sun Devils’ version of a 3-4 scheme, Sutton operated as a DT. Junior noseguard Jaxon Hood didn't have a great 2013 season due to a hamstring injury that limited his production. Still, he counts as a returning starter. The Sun Devils also lose Davon Coleman, who replaced Hood in the lineup. The critical issue is the development of Marcus Hardison, a big, talented 2013 juco transfer who started slowly but seemed to start figuring things out late in the season. There's also juco transfers Demetrius Cherry and Dalvon Stuckey as well as 380-pound Mo Latu.

California: The Bears lose their best player in 2013, Deandre Coleman, who nonetheless seemed out of position at noseguard. They also lose DT Viliami Moala, a once touted recruit who entered the NFL draft early after an undistinguished career. The big question is the return of DT Mustafa Jalil, who is still recovering from the knee injury that ended his 2013 season before it began. He's long been a tantalizing talent. Other possibilities are Jacobi Hunter and Harrison Wilfley as well as juco transfers Trevor Kelly and David Davis.

Colorado: Five of the top six defensive tackles are back, including starters Josh Tupou and Justin Solis, both juniors. The only loss at the position is Nate Bonsu, whose contribution was just 13 tackles. Samson Kafovalu and Tyler Henington are also in the mix.

Oregon: The Ducks lose a pair of effective 300-pounders in the middle in the underrated Wade Keliikipi and backup Ricky Heimuli, but starting tackle DeForest Buckner is back, and noseguard Alex Balducci has significant experience. Depth is the question. Players such as Stetzon Bair and Sam Kamp need to step up, while younger players have a chance to break through. There's also incoming juco transfer Tui Talia.

Oregon State: The Beavers probably got more than they thought they would in 2013 from Mana Rosa and John Braun, but both are gone. Into that void will step Edwin Delva, Siale Hautau, Brandon Bennett-Jackson, Noke Tago and Miami transfer Jalen Grimble. Junior college transfer Kyle Peko arrives in the summer.

Stanford: The Cardinal runs a true 3-4, so the only true DT is David Parry. He's back but will be limited this spring while recovering from a lower abdominal injury. Parry likely will share the position with promising redshirt sophomore Ikenna Nwafor, but he is nursing a foot injury and will miss at least the Cardinal's first spring session. That leaves seniors Anthony Hayes and Lance Callihanto try and make an impression this spring. Aziz Shittu, previously an end, also is getting a look at NT this spring.

UCLA: The Bruins lose Seali’i Epenesa, but by the end of the season, freshman Kenny Clark was the starter. Ellis McCarthy and Eli Ankou also can play inside or outside in the Bruins 3-4.

[+] EnlargeDanny Shelton
Larry Placido/Icon SMIWashington's Danny Shelton is building on an honorable mention All-Pac-12 performance in 2013.
USC: USC welcomes back the top four names on its 2013 depth chart at nose tackle, including starter Antwaun Woods and backup Cody Temple. It will be interesting to see if touted 2013 recruit Kenny Bigelow makes a move this spring.

Utah: The Utes lose Tenny Palepoi, who earned second-team All-Pac-12 honors, and fellow starter LT Tuipulotu as well as backup Latu Heimuli. Sam Tevi, Viliseni Fauonuku and Sese Ianu are back, and juco transfer Pasoni Tasini should be in the mix. Freshman Allan Havili graduated high school early and will participate in spring practices.

Washington: The Huskies welcome back 327-pound Danny Shelton, who earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors in 2013, and Evan Hudson, who operated as a DT/DE in the Huskies’ hybrid scheme. Redshirt freshman Elijah Qualls also might make a move, and Jarett Finau and Taniela Tupou also are back.

Washington State: The Cougars lose nose tackle Ioane Gauta but welcome back Kalafitoni Pole, who is projected to move back inside and replace Gauta after playing DT last year. Xavier Cooper likely then moves from end and replaces Pole. Redshirt freshman NT Daniel Ekuale is promising, while Darryl Paulo, Gerald Sterling and Robert Barber are also in the mix.

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Ted Miller | email

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PAC-12 SCOREBOARD

Saturday, 12/20
Monday, 12/22
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Friday, 12/26
Saturday, 12/27
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
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Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Monday, 1/12