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BYU Football Positional Preview: Defensive Line

As fall camp approaches, we preview each position group at BYU for the upcoming season. Up next, the defensive line is full of question marks, but not devoid of talent.

NCAA Football: Brigham Young at Utah State Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

BYU’s defensive line is often one of the most scrutinized units on the squad. Fans always clamor for a fiercer pass rush and sexier sack numbers. It’s not always that simple. However, the coaching staff has their work cut out for him to replace the talent that left and develop that which they retain. For the most part, the unit is intact from last year and they hope to build on the experience they had last season. The cupboard is not bare along the defensive line. This year, we are going to find out who is going to step up into bigger roles and shine.

Defensive Ends

Tyler Batty

Batty is the headliner along the defensive line. Appearing in 12 of the 13 games last season, he collected 43 tackles, five for loss, along with 3.5 sacks. He is yet to fully realize his potential but at 6-foot-5, 275 pounds, with some athleticism, there isn’t much he can’t do as a defensive end. Look for 2022 to be the breakout year the fans and the coaches have been waiting for, health willing.

Fisher Jackson

The South Jordan native appeared sparingly in nine games last season. He might see a larger role this season given the departed experience.

Blake Mangelson

As a true freshman in 2021, Mangelson appeared in seven games, with five tackles. The Nephi native racked up big stats as a prep player.

Earl Tuioti-Mariner

ETM is one of the most experienced players on the 2022 roster. Entering his sixth season in the program, he has logged 42 games, with 49 total tackles, including four for loss and three sacks. At 6-foot-4, 288 pounds, he is one of the bigger ends. He likely will see time opposite Batty as the “split end,” which traditionally is the bigger, bulkier end.

Aisea Moa

The four-star recruit enters the program with plenty of hype. He will have to earn his way into the rotation, just like everyone else. Being rated the No. 5-ranked prospect in Utah comes with expectations. After garnering interest from a few PAC-12 schools, Moa chose BYU. It appears he will develop into a viable weapon along the defensive line given some experience.

John Nelson

The former three-star recruit appeared in all 13 games as a true freshman last season, tallying 12 tackles and two tackles for loss. He can also to the interior defensive line.

Alden Tofa

Tofa has appeared in at least seven games every season for the last four seasons. He registered three sacks in seven games last season. He has plenty of size and bulk to make an impact off the end. Someone needs to step up and be a Robin to Batty’s Batman and Tofa is a prime candidate.

Pepe Tanuvasa

The former Navy transfer returns for a final season looking to build on a strong 2021 campaign. Pepe has shifted between linebacker and defensive line in his career, and Kalani indicated in Spring Ball that he might play linebacker this season. He was the Cougars’ fifth-ranked tackler with 42, along with three sacks and seven tackles for loss. He was one of the most productive linemen in Provo. He even had an interception against Idaho State. This season is setting up to be his finest yet and he should make a big impact.

Note: Logan Fano came to Provo as a four-star recruit but tore his ACL in the spring and may not play at all this season.

Defensive Tackle

Lorenzo Fauatea

The sixth-year senior missed the latter half of last season due to injury. He forced a fumble against Utah and can be one of the most disruptive defensive linemen BYU has on the roster when healthy. He had four total sacks between 2018 and 2019.

Hunter Greer

The Timpanogos alum enters his second season in the program. He redshirted last season, appearing in one game against Idaho State.

Alema Pilimai

Pilimai is another defensive lineman who has stuck around in the program for several seasons. To this point, he has mainly been a scout team player. This may be his last season in Provo and last chance to play a bigger role. He may get that chance this year.

Gabe Summers

Summers enters his fifth season in the program and third as a starter. Last season, he played in all 13 games, accumulating 24 tackles, including one tackle for loss. In 2020, he also earned two sacks. He is one of the most productive interior defensive lineman returning for BYU and looks to take another step, especially in the pass rushing department.

Nose Tackle

Caden Haws

Haws certainly looks the part of a nose tackle, at 6-foot-2, 320 pounds. Out of high school in Arkansas, he garnered interest from several SEC schools and military academies. Over the last two seasons, he has been a mainstay in the middle of BYU’s defensive line, playing in 23 of a possible 24 games. He notched his first career sack last season, against Utah State, along with three tackles for loss. Once again, he will be a staple in the interior line.

Josh Larsen

The former three-star recruit appeared in three games last season as a true freshman. At 6-foot-4, 300 pounds, he is a load to handle in the middle for opposing offensive lines.

Atunaisa Mahe

Having played in 25 games between 2019 and 2021, Mahe is blossoming into one of BYU’s best defensive linemen. He notched 26 tackles with 1.5 sacks last season. He is one of the more athletic interior linemen BYU has.

Joshua Singh

Singh appeared in one game last season and enters this year as a redshirt freshman.