Spring practices did nothing to assuage our worries about interior line depth on the defense. We have Will Pericak, and then not much else. Very little experience, some injury concerns, and a whole mess of true freshmen, which isn't a great combination. And while those freshmen look like they could be contributors right off the bat, that's not something you want to be counting on, ever.
- Eric Richter, Sr - It would be great if we could get some meaningful snaps out of him because he's the biggest and strongest guy on the team. If I could hope for one guy on the team "getting it" this summer, he would be it. He would make a big difference in short-yardage situations and it would take a lot of pressure off the rest of the guys on the field if he was able to take a bunch of snaps away from a true freshman
- Will Pericak, Sr - Again, I'll be sorry to see him graduate. He's improved throughout his time here and has been one of the most consistent players we've had on the defense. He has the physical ability to continue to improve in 2012, and I'm hoping that Coaches Tuiasosopo and McGhee can get him to become a true difference-maker. He's powerful and quick and the one guy we can count on along the defensive line. If he can continue to improve at playing with leverage (and can stay out of bars with flammable trash cans), he should be competing for a spot on the all-conference squad.
- Nate Bonsu, Jr - He's still dealing with injury stuff and I have a sinking feeling that we'll never see the same guy that showed flashes of talent in his true freshman campaign. I'm going to be looking for reports on him this summer because he looked like he could really be something when he first got here. We really need some more of that out of him, because otherwise we're going to be totally reliant on two or more true freshmen in our D-Line rotation, and that's not a good position to be in.
- Kirk Poston, So - He was at the top of the depth chart next to Pericak this spring, but he's still only 255 lbs and that's simply not big enough. I haven't seen enough of him in practices recently to see where he is, but he definitely looked small as a freshman out there. If he can pack on some pounds by the time September rolls around, his spot on the depth chart won't worry me so much. But that's just because of his size, I still don't know where he is technique-wise and if he's going to be able to give us enough more than some of the young-uns coming in.
- Kyle Koch, RFr - Walk on whose father played for the Buffs.
- Tyler Hennington, Fr - He's one of the least heralded guys at DT coming in, but I could see him making an impact early. He has great quickness inside and played for Mullen here in-state. I could see him being a part of the DT rotation early, and maybe getting some looks at one of the DE spots when we take more of a 3-4 look. I think he will give us some value as a pass-rusher inside early, and hopefully he'll be able to jump right into the S&T program so he can learn to hold up against the run at the college level soon.
- Kory Rasmussen, Fr - He still has some filling out to do, but he could possibly get some looks at DE before he moves inside fulltime. He plays with passion and lots of energy, but we'll see how he stacks up when he's facing 300+ lbs of offensive lineman each snap. I think he's a candidate to redshirt, but I like his ceiling and can't wait to see him in 2014/15.
- Josh Tupou, Fr - Topou looks solid and I have a feeling he's going to get snaps right away. He's got a big, wide body and he possesses a good amount of power out of his stance. He may not be able to give us a ton of snaps per game, but I think he has the ability to play on the nose and give some relief to guys like Pericak from the get go.
- Justin Solis, Fr - He's the most highly regarded of our Interior DT recruits this year, and I'm hoping he can back up the hype. What we saw from him in HS was both the ability to collapse the pocket, and a knack for dropping his knee and occupying double teams (and in HS, some triple teams) when teams wanted to run the ball. He could actually stand to slim down a little bit, but I like him to shine in the off-tackle role that this defense uses down the road.
Pericak is the one guy here with experience that is dependable. We know what we'll get from him, and we hope it's what we've been getting from him throughout his time here (37 straight starts if my count is correct). After him is a whole lot of question marks. Bonsu has injury concerns, Richter hasn't been able to contribute yet despite his physical gifts, and then we have a bunch of freshmen. Now, the rookies are exciting, but as I've said before (and unfortunately in these breakdowns will say again), you don't want to be counting on true freshmen before they've even set foot on campus (or really ever). We signed 4 (possibly eventually 5) guys that can play inside on defense, though they may not all stay there. We're going to need contributions from at least two of them no matter how the rest of the guys on the roster do. I don't think true freshmen seeing the field for us inside is a bad thing in 2012, but it certainly isn't ideal.