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Spring Position Breakdown: Defensive Line

Washington returns everyone of note from last year but is still searching for the next breakout star on the line

NCAA Football: Arizona State at Washington Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

We’re still another week away from the restart of spring practices so we’re continuing to fill the gap by going position by position with what we learned from the first 3 practices and what that means for the next month.

2022 Position Recap

Washington had to replace starter Taki Taimani who transferred to Oregon last offseason. That job largely fell to former 4-star Faatui Tuitele who ended up playing the most snaps of any Husky DL at 449 per Pro Football Focus. He failed though to make a dramatic impact with just 12 total tackles and a half sack. Tuli Letuligasenoa was the returning starter and appeared in every games but often battled through injury producing 30 tackles including 4.5 for loss. Voi Tunuufi played the next most snaps and led the unit in sacks (5) playing primarily on passing downs. Converted OL Ulumoo Ale and Jacob Bandes provided additional depth with true freshman Jayvon Parker surprisingly playing enough to burn his redshirt. Overall, the group struggled to make impact plays despite a lot of talent from a recruiting standpoint.

Position Losses

So. Kuao Peihopa- The big man out of Hawai’i only played 53 defensive snaps as he was suspended indefinitely partway through the season. That transgression was seemingly a bridge they couldn’t overcome with the coaching staff as Peihopa chose to transfer back home during the offseason.

New Additions

NONE (True freshman Anthony James is expected to potentially move inside at some point but he is currently listed as an edge on the roster)

Spring Storylines to Watch

1. Starting on the Sideline

Washington had a clear one-two punch along the interior of Tuli Letuligasenoa and Faatui Tuitele. Neither participated during the first three early spring practice sessions. Tuitele earlier this offseason posted on social media that he had undergone a minor procedure and Tuli has had a variety of minor ailments he generally plays through during the season. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to get other guys reps and rest the veterans. But it also would be nice to know that both are healthy. We’ll see if one or both are able to come back following the two-week break and contribute.

2. D-Line Monopoly (Created by Parker Brothers)

There weren’t clear expectations for twins Jayvon and Armon Parker when they signed with Washington. They were unranked at the time they committed as the new coaching staff tried to flush out the roster following a cratered recruiting class at the end of the Jimmy Lake era. Armon missed the year due to injury but Jayvon played in 8 games picking up a sack along the way. The Parker Brothers duo have largely been working with the 2’s so far this spring given the injuries to the starters but they could be the future of the interior defensive line for Washington.

3. Home Voi?

Last season we saw plenty of movement along the line from Voi Tunuufi as he at times shifted in passing situations to take advantage of his speed. Then he came into the spring having dropped another 10+ pounds and is listed on the roster at 249 pounds. He’s also still listed as a defensive lineman but could we be in the middle of a full-time move to an edge rusher spot? It wouldn’t be a surprise in the slightest given all of that evidence. I’ll be looking forward to finding out whether Tunuufi will end up slotting in more behind the edge duo of Trice/ZTF than he is behind Tuli/Tuitele by the time we get to the fall.