Over the years, the Washington Huskies have had several top-notch players on the defensive line, led by the number one overall pick in the 1992 draft, Steve Emtman.
It has been 17 years since the 1992 draft, however, and the defensive line for the Huskies has fallen off the map. The only current active defensive lineman in the NFL is Terry "Tank" Johnson.
The change in coaching staff in the 2009 season brought about the departure of long time defensive line coach Randy Hart. Starting in 1988, Hart survived four coaching staff changes, but the change in culture new head coach Steve Sarkisian brought called for a full staff turnover.
The man taking over for Hart as the defensive line coach is Johnny Nansen. Nansen, a former linebacker for Washington State University, has been in the coaching ranks since 2000. This was his first year serving as the defensive line coach, and he also coaches special teams.
Taking a look at the current roster, and taking out graduating seniors, the Huskies have 17 players returning: eight defensive ends, five defensive tackles, and two backup players listed as general defensive linemen. The Huskies do lose both starting DE's, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim and Darrion Jones.
Darrion Jones did split time with Talia Crichton, who is returning for 2010. The incoming recruiting class currently has four incoming linemen, two DTs and two DEs.
As we take a look ahead, there should be 21 defensive line players on the roster going into 2010, if the current recruits end up signing. Let’s take a look at the position breakdowns.
Defensive End: Daniel Te’o-Nesheim, Senior
Te’o-Nesheim has been the anchor for the Huskies' defensive line over the last few years. While there has been question of talent on the defense, experts are quick to point out the non-stop motor and work ethic of Te’o-Nesheim.
A three-star recruit originally, he has proved to be an excellent end in college. Replacing him will be the biggest challenge on the line. He started all 12 games at the DE position. Behind Te’o-Nesheim on the depth chart is sophomore Everrette Thompson. Thompson did see time at the DT position this year as well. Behind Thompson is Andru Pulu, who was a true freshman this season.
Defensive Tackle: Alameda Ta’amu, Sophomore
The first defensive tackle spot to look at is manned by Alameda Ta’amu, a sophomore who will be a returning starter and anchor of the DT position. He was the starter for all 12 games at one of the DT positions. Behind him on the depth chart are Tyrone Duncan, and Semisi Tokolahi.
Defensive Tackle: Cameron Elisara, Junior
The other defensive tackle position was filled by Cameron Elisara. Elisara is a junior and will be coming back for 2010. Behind him on the depth chart is Deshon Matthews. Elisara started all but three games, and backup DE Everrette Thompson got the starts in his place.
Defensive End: Darrion Jones, Senior
The second senior listed on the line is end Darrion Jones. The three players listed on the depth chart for this position are Jones, Kalani Aldrich, and Talia Crichton. All three received playing time this year, as Jones started only six games, with Crichton getting five, and Aldrich getting one start. While Jones is gone, Crichton has plenty of starting experience.
The 2010 recruiting class looks to bring in four recruits for the defensive line. This group is headlined by local high school star Sione Potoa'e. Potoa'e gave Washington fans a scare by taking a trip to USC, causing his commitment status to go to soft verbal on Scout.com, but as of this week has reaffirmed his commitment to Washington. Here is a quick look at the incoming recruits.
Sione Potoa'e, of Lakes High School, Lakewood, WA, is a four-star recruit at defensive tackle. At 6'3" and 285 pounds, Potoa'e has good size and speed, with a 4.9 40-yard dash. He is listed as the 12th best DT recruit by Rivals.com, and the second overall recruit from the state of Washington. He is the prize recruit on defense for Sarkisian’s 2010 class. Keeping him away from USC is a big coup for Washington.
Lawrence Lagafuaina, of Aiea High School, Aiea, HI, is a three-star recruit at the defensive tackle position. Laguafina also has good size at 6'1" and 310 pounds, and speed with a 4.9 40-yard dash. Lagauaina is currently listed as a soft verbal, as he still plans to take his trip to the University of Hawaii, but from all indications he plans on attending Washington next fall.
Andrew Hudson, of Redlands East Valley High School, Redlands, CA, is a three-star defensive end recruit. Rated the 34th defensive end recruit by Rivals.com, Hudson is 6'3" and 220 pounds with 4.8 40-yard dash speed. In his junior season, Hudson provided 70 tackles, six sacks, and one fumble recovery, according to his Scout.com profile.
The final recruit to look at will is a versatile player who will either play on the line or in the linebacking core, Brent Williams. Willliams is a 6'2", 205-pound player from Woodland Hills, CA. He has 4.7 40-yard dash speed and has been very productive his last two years at Woodland Hills.
According to Scout.com, his junior year, he had 17 sacks with 59 tackles, including 29 tackles for a loss. A bit undersized for a DE, it is possible he ends up as a linebacker, but we will know more going into fall camp.
While the line loses two starters going into next season, there looks to be a lot of depth. Daniel Te’o-Neshheim will be sorely missed, but look for the younger guys to come in and make an impact.
Potoa'e has the kind of ability that could give him playing time at DT to start the season, and that would allow Everrette Thompson to take over at the DE position for the outgoing Te’o-Neshheim. Thompson was a four-star recruit on Scout and Rivals, so he has the talent to take over that DE spot.
Look for Washington to try to improve on a pass rush that had 27 sacks in the 2009 season.
That was a big jump from 2008 where they only provided 16 total sacks. Despite the losses, we should look for numbers similar or better than this year’s totals.
Make sure to check out my offensive unit breakdowns already posted, and keep a look out for the rest of the defensive unit breakdowns.