Utah DE Coach Lewis Powell: We’ve Never Been So Deep At The Position Before

Apr 15, 2022, 4:17 PM
Van Fillinger - Utah Spring Practice 2022...
(Photo courtesy of Utah Athletics)
(Photo courtesy of Utah Athletics)

SALT LAKE CITY – The University of Utah football program has a rich history of defensive line play and DE coach Lewis Powell is carrying on that tradition.

Utah DE coach Lewis Powell continues to develop the talent on the roster and turn them into elite pass rushers. With Mika Tafua off to the NFL and Xavier Carlton transferring to California, Utah and coach Powell hasn’t missed a beat when it comes to reloading the defensive end room.

The coach told the media on Thursday that he has a very deep room.

“There’s so many guys that are really good,” Powell said. “We’re not going to keep some of the guys on the side. For them to be on the field and fresh and ready to go, we’re probably going to have to rotate. We’ve never been so deep in the group before and if they could rotate and be fresh out there, and I think that’s what we’re gonna do without any drop off.”

Lewis Powell Working With New Additions To Position

Jonah Elliss came to Utah as a linebacker/defensive end hybrid last season and made great strides towards the end of the season. Connor O’Toole was a wide receiver last year before adding on weight and moving to defensive end. Both guys have put in the work to gain weight.

“They both gained 15 and 20 pounds,” said Powell. “Connor came in and he’s almost 240 and Jonah has been consistently 240 closer to 245. It’s been awesome. They’re carrying the weight really well and they have the frame to continue to gain weight. We want them to be as heavy as they can without losing any explosive twitch and athleticism and they’re going to continue to get bigger.”

Not only does Powell have the luxury of having guys move to his position group but he also gets to work with linebackers that will rush the passer this season.

“We’ve never had so many twitchy dudes on the d-line but I can’t wait to see our third down and long group,” Powell said. “We also got Mohamoud (Diabate) that’s a big time pass rusher and then lander Barton that’s a big time pass rusher but I think we have a really good situation and we’ll see how it all falls come fall but right now the competition is really good and I’m excited to see who comes out of spring and fall as the starter.”

Young Star Pass Rusher Van Fillinger Make Great Strides At Utah

With Maxs Tupai not available last season, that opened the door for Van Fillinger to shine and he did just that. The Corner Canyon standout is now one of the leaders on the defensive line with the departure of Mika Tafua. Fillinger continues to make strides in his game.

“As a pass rusher, he’s making huge strides in spring and coming into spring he knew exactly what he needed to do to get better and to take that next step,” Powell mentioned. “That’s what he’s been doing and it’s been awesome to see him develop and grow and work on his skill and he’s been doing a great job. Our scrimmage last week I think he had three or four sacks, it was pretty impressive to see.”

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for KSLSports.com. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASports.

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Utah DE Coach Lewis Powell: We’ve Never Been So Deep At The Position Before