Aggie Notes: Utah State Defensive Line Needs To Grow Up Fast

Aug 15, 2023, 5:48 PM | Updated: 10:12 pm

LOGAN, Utah – Utah State’s defensive line was one of the hardest-hit position groups as a mass exodus in the transfer portal decimated the Aggies depth. How they incorporate incoming talent will have a big impact on USU’s 2023 success.

Entering his first season as the Aggies defensive line coach, Tevita Finau is proud of the inexperienced group’s progress in fall camp.

“We have about 30 or so new faces just on the defensive side, so it’s all about getting those new guys to work together and seeing what the new guys can do,” Finau preached following practice last Friday. “We already have an idea of what the old guys can do, so it’s more so just getting it all to mesh together. We’re going to need every single day we’ve got here in camp for it, but they are doing awesome. They’re making strides and buying in, and I’m proud to be around this group.”

Finau is faced with incorporating 12 new faces with two starters and six total returning players from the 2022 defense before the season opener against Iowa on September 2.

Entering his sixth season in Logan, senior defensive tackle Hale Motu’apuaka spoke highly of the energy he’s seeing out of the defensive line early in camp.

“There’s been a lot of great energy throughout the defense this first week of fall camp,” said Motu’apuaka. “We’ve just got to work on executing the plays. It’s a new defense for all of us, so we are learning the plays quickly so we can get them down by the start of the season.

RELATED: Sophomore Aggie Safety Continues Racking Up Preseason Recognition

Utah State Returning Defensive Line (Listed alphabetically)

Hale Motu’apuaka | RS Senior | Honolulu, HI

With 46 career games, Motu’apuaka has more than a full season’s worth of experience over any of his teammates. Since redshirting in 2018, Motu’apuaka has made 28 starts for the Aggies. In four seasons, the talented leader has 82 tackles, 7.5 sacks, and 16.5 tackles for a loss.

In 2022, Motu’apuaka started 12 games and posted 35 tackles, including five sacks and eight tackles for loss.

Entering his final season with USU, he was named to Phil Steele’s First-Team All-Mountain West and Athlon Sports Second-Team All-Mountain West.

Bo Maile | RS Sophomore | South Jordan, UT

At 6’2 and 280 pounds, Maile enters his third season in Logan after a prep career at Bingham High School that saw him finish as the 16th-best recruit in Utah according to 247Sports.com.

After redshirting in 2021, Maile saw action in 11 games for the Aggies last year. He finished with seven tackles and one sack.

Maile’s uncle, Frank Maile, played at USU (2004-07) before spending ten seasons as an Aggie assistant coach. He now coaches at Washington State.

Enoka Migao | RS Sophomore | Temecula, CA

Listed at 6’4 and 255 pounds, Enoka Migao joined Utah State as a three-star recruit and the 94th-best recruit out of California, according to 247Sports.com, in 2021.

After redshirting in his first year, Migao saw the field in seven games in 2022. He finished the season with three total tackles, including his first career stop against No. 1 Alabama on September 3.

Migao’s twin brother, Elia, is an offensive lineman at Utah State.

Seni Tuiaki | RS Sophomore | Salt Lake City, UT

Ranked as the 21st-best recruit in Utah in 2021, Tuiaki joined USU after playing his prep football for the East Leopards.

Tuiaki played in the first four games last season, making his first career start against UNLV on September 24. Unfortunately for the 6’1, 280-pound defensive lineman, an injury against the Rebels kept him out for the remainder of the season.

In limited action, Tuiaki finished with 15 tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss, and one pass breakup.

Poukesi Vakauta | Senior | Euless, TX

Joining Motu’apuaka, Poukesi Vakauta is the only other defensive lineman to have made a start for Utah State in 2022.

In 12 games, Vakauta picked up five sacks and eight tackles for a loss on his way to 35 total stops. Tied career-high with three tackles and a sack against Memphis in the SERVPRO First Responders Bowl.

John Ward | Junior | Palmdale, CA

A 6’4, 245-pound defensive end, Ward joined Utah State in 2022 after spending the previous three seasons with UCLA. He played in three games before transferring to Logan with three seasons of eligibility remaining.

In ten games with the Aggies, Ward made ten tackles and three tackles for a loss.

Utah State Defensive Line Newcomers (Listed alphabetically)

Zion Andreasen | Freshman | Salt Lake City, Utah

Listed as a 6’4 and 230-pound defensive end, Andreasen joins Finau’s defensive line group after a stellar senior season for the East Leopards. Andreasen ended the season with 18.5 quarterback sacks and 93 total tackles. Andreasen had five multi-sack games as a senior.

Andreasen’s father, Kory Andreasen, played football at Kansas State

Emerson Conlon | Freshman | Holladay, Utah

Listed as an undersized defensive tackle at 6’2 and 245-pounds, Conlon signed with Utah State after earning 5A first-team all-state recognition as an offensive lineman in 2018 & 2019.

Defensively, the 2019 Region 6 MVP for Olympus HS recorded 78 tackles including ten sacks and 37.5 tackles for a loss.

Paul Fitzgerald | RS Freshman | Idaho Falls, ID

The 6’3, 240-pound defensive end out of Thunder Ridge HS preserved his redshirt season when he saw action in just two contests for USU in 2022.

Rated the fourth-best overall recruit in Idaho by 247Sports.com, Fitzgerald joined the Aggies as a three-star prospect. His cousin, Skyler Hanford, played basketball at BYU.

Kaden Jolley | RS Sophomore | Fruita, CO

Despite not appearing in a single game during his redshirt freshman season in 2022, Jolley was named the Aggies’ Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year.

Kaden’s brother, Tanner, is beginning his first season with USU. Jolley’s great-great-grandfather, Ebenezer Kirkham, wrote The Scotsman, Utah State’s fight song.

Named as a Mountain West Scholar-Athlete in 2022.

Tanner Jolley | Freshman | Fruita, CO

The 6’2, 225-pound defensive end follows the family tradition of attending college at Utah State, joining his brother and fellow defensive lineman Kaden on the practice field.

Earned Colorado Class 4A first-team all-state recognition and was named the Pioneer League Lineman of the Year for Fruita Monument HS in 2020.

Tanner’s brother, Kaden, is entering his sophomore season with the Aggies. Jolley’s great-great-grandfather, Ebenezer Kirkham, wrote The Scotsman, Utah State’s fight song.

Siaosi Lauhingoa | Junior | Kahuku, HI

Siaosi Lauhingoa joins Utah State after spending the past three seasons at Independence Community College in Kansas. Lauhingoa finished 2022 with 13 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 2.5 tackles for a loss.

RELATED: Aggie Notes: Inexperienced Tight End Group For Utah State Football

Lauhingoa is cousins with current Aggies Hale & Tavo Motu’apuaka

Vaughn Mamea | Junior | San Jose, CA

The 6’2, 345-pound Vaughn Mamea is expected to bring some much-needed size & strength to the USU defensive line in 2023.

In two seasons at the College of San Mateo in California, Mamea recorded 13 tackles, one sack, and three tackles for a loss as San Mateo rolled to a 12-1 record and a California Community College Athletic Association state title in 2022. Mamea contributed a season-high three tackles in the state championship victory.

Had 29 total tackles in two seasons with the Bulldogs.

Sir Mells | RS Freshman | Las Vegas, NV

At 6’4 and 300 pounds, the former Oregon Duck sure looks the part of a player that can provide depth along the Aggie defensive interior.

A consensus three-star recruit out of Nevada, Mells played in just one game as a true freshman for Oregon in 2022. Finished his prep career at Liberty HS with 53 tackles, two sacks, and two forced fumbles.

Clifton Mosely Jr. | Sophomore | Shreveport, LA

Mosely Jr. comes to Logan after playing one season for Navarro Community College in Texas. He amassed 39 tackles, six stops behind the line of scrimmage, and one fumble recovery on his way to receiving second-team all-Southwest Junior College Football Conference recognition.

Cousin, Robert Rochelle, plays for the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams.

Ioholani Raass | Sophomore | Lehi, UT

After redshirting at UCLA during the 2020 season, Raass (Ross) transferred to Snow College in Ephraim, UT for the 2022 season. Raass appeared in eight games for the Badgers, tallying 12 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and seven tackles for a loss.

Graduated from Skyridge High School in 2018 as the No.9 prospect in Utah, as rated by 247Sports.com.

Father, John, and uncle, Stan Raass, played football at BYU (1994-95). Brother, Stanley, has committed to joining the Utah Utes in 2025.

Cian Slone | Junior | Rocklin, CA

Cian Slone joins USU as a junior after being named a California Community College Football Coaches Association All-American and the state’s Defensive MVP for his play in 2022.

Slone racked up 84 tackles, 12 sacks, and 22 tackles for a loss as a sophomore, helping American River College to an 8-4 record. Slone finished his second season with American River with four double-digit tackle games.

Slone’s brother, Teeg, is a sophomore safety for Utah State.

Adam Tomczyk | RS Freshman | Los Alamitos, CA

Rated as a three-star recruit (ESPN.com, 247Sports.com) coming out of Los Alamitos HS in 2021, Tomczyk redshirted for the Aggies last season. Tomczyk was named the Sunset League Defensive Lineman of the Year in his final two seasons with the Griffins.

RELATED: Utah State Defensive Back Earns Preseason All-Mountain West Honor

Maka Tu’akoi | Sophomore | West Jordan, UT

After playing one season for Independence Community College in Kansas, Tu’akoi returns to Utah where he played in high school as an Alta Hawk.

After earning an all-region honorable mention with Alta in 2021, Tu’akoi spent a redshirt season at Independence. As a redshirt freshman, he recorded 26 tackles, one forced fumble, and a fumble recovery.

Bryan Vogl | Freshman | Eagle Mountain, UT

Vogl joins Blake Anderson’s team after earning a 5A all-state honorable mention and being named the Region 7 Defensive Line MVP at Cedar Valley HS. Finished his high school career with 197 stops, 31 sacks, and 62 tackles for a loss.

Following The Aggies With KSL Sports Zone

Utah State begins the 2023 campaign with a road test against the Big Ten’s Iowa Hawkeyes. Iowa hosts the Aggies on Saturday, September 2 with a 10 a.m. (MT) season-opening kickoff. The Hawkeyes ended 2022 with a 21-0 shutout against Kentucky in the Music City Bowl to finish the season at 8-5.

Every Utah State football game can be heard on the KSL Sports Zone with Scott Garrard and former Aggie quarterback Kevin White on the call.

KSL Sports coverage of Utah State University Athletics can be found here. 

Take us with you, wherever you go.

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utah’s sports leader. You can stream live radio, video and stay up to date on all of your favorite teams.

  • Utah State Aggies Scoreboard

  • Utah State Aggies Team Leaders

  • Utah State Aggies Standings

Utah State Aggies

Utah State quarterback Cooper Legas (1)...

Brian Preece

Cooper Legas Finds Jalen Royals For Third Touchdown Pass Of Second Half

Cooper Legas and Jalen Royals and have found a way to form a special connection in the second half against UConn.

9 minutes ago

utah state end zone pylon...

Brian Preece

Jalen Royals Takes Screen Pass 71-Yards For Utah State Touchdown

Jalen Royals took a screen pass and ran 71 yards untouched to give Utah State its first lead of the day against UConn.

30 minutes ago

utah state wide receiver jalen royals...

Brian Preece

Cooper Legas Finds Jalen Royals For TD After Hillstead Injury

Former Utah State starter Cooper Legas didn't miss a beat when he took over for an injured McCae Hillstead in the third quarter on Saturday.

45 minutes ago

utah state quarterback cooper legas...

Brian Preece

McCae Hillstead Leaves Game With Injury, Cooper Legas Inserted For Utah State

McCae Hillstead has been replaced by Cooper Legas after appearing to suffer a second-half injury against UConn. 

57 minutes ago

utah state qb mccae hillstead...

Brian Preece

Colby Bowman Shakes Free For 63-Yard Touchdown As Aggies Trail

Freshman McCae Hillstead's deep strike ability shows up again with Colby Bowman putting Utah State on the scoreboard late in the first half.

1 hour ago

Blake Anderson - Utah State Aggies Football...

Brian Preece

Son’s Death Pushes Utah State’s Blake Anderson To Face Vulnerabilities

Suicide prevention month strikes a personal tone for third-year Utah State football head coach Blake Anderson.

4 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.


KSL Digital Sales

Notable Moments From The Utah Jazz Season… So Far

At the beginning of the season, the Utah Jazz were second to last. Now they rank in the top 10 teams in the Western Conference.

Football soccer ball on grass field on stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

Everything You Need to Know to Watch the 2022 World Cup

Find out where and when to watch the upcoming games and final match for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, including where to find live updates.

ksl sports logos...

KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.


KSL Sports

Win Tickets Wednesday: Jimmy Buffett

Get your Hawaiian shirts ready.

Aggie Notes: Utah State Defensive Line Needs To Grow Up Fast