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Utah Football Position Preview: Defensive Tackles

(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The University of Utah is absolutely stacked on the defensive line, both tackle and end positions are filled with NFL talent.

Leki Fotu is one of the four Utes who decided to return for his senior year.

He had 33 tackles, 3 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss last year and was named first team All-Pac-12. Fotu will certainly be an anchor on the Utah defense at right tackle.

John Penisini had a breakout season last year and is showing that he can compete at a high level and reach the NFL.

The senior had 38 tackles and 7 of them for loss last season after recording 4 tackles in 2017. He was named second team All-Pac-12 after last season.

Names To Watch

Head coach Kyle Whittingham, defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley and defensive line coach Lewis Powell will not have a problem with their depth at defensive tackle.

Junior Viane Moala sat out last season after transferring to Utah from Hawaii. He played 24 games for the Rainbow Warriors and was a Mountain West Honorable Mention in 2017.

Junior Pita Tonga started six games and played in 13 contests last season, while recording 12 tackles, 3 for loss and 2.5 sacks. He also returned an interception 21 yards against Washington. Entering his junior season, he will be a big part of the defensive line’s success.

Junior Hauati Pututau played in all 14 games last season. The Cottonwood High School product posted 19 tackles, 4 for loss, 1 sack, 3 pass breakups and 2 fumble recoveries. Watch out for him to have a big season and gaining more confidence for his senior campaign.

Facing Fierce Competition

The defensive tackles will have their hands full with plenty of good running backs on their schedule including Arizona State RB Eno Benjamin, J.J. Taylor from Arizona, Oregon State’s Jermar Jefferson, UCLA running back Joshua Kelley, Max Borghi from Washington State and Salvon Ahmed from Washington.

Six of Utah’s opponents offensive line units are ranked in the top 50 in the country.