With so many of the starting positions up in the air on the offensive side of the ball it is refreshing to know that there is only one position on the entire defense that does not have a returning starter.
That’s right 10 of the 11 positions have a returning starter and many of those positions are at least 2-deep with returners as well. This week we will take a look at the only unit that will not return completely whole, the defensive line. However, before we get too far along I want to mention the two biggest updates from the Red Raiders recruiting efforts.
This past week, running back Devin Brumfield officially decommitted. I think most people were not surprised by this after Coach Juluke left the coaching staff a few weeks ago. While not surprising it is concerning that right now the Red Raiders do not have a running back signed or even verbally committed to join the team. That could be changing soon because 3-star running back Ta’Zhawn Henry has announced that Tech has made his top four schools along with Nebraska, Oregon State, and Utah.
Now that we have that out of the way let’s take a look at the big boys up front. The only position that does not have a returning starter is one of the defensive tackle spots that was filled this past year by Big Mych Thomas. The obvious choice for his replacement has to be junior Joseph Wallace. At 315 pounds he is a run stuffing machine and in limited time this year he performed well.
If Wallace does in fact take control of this job he will have big shoes to fill because last year Thomas was a key reason that Dakota Allen and Jordyn Brooks were free to make so many tackles. The other player that will have an opportunity to make a run at this job is Nick McCann. McCann is not as big of a body as Wallace but at over 300 pounds he is no small man either.
The other defensive tackle spot will no doubt be filled by junior Broderick Washington. Now entering his junior year Tech fans will be expecting even more from Washington. His performance this past year allowed the Red Raiders to not feel the sting of losing their starting defensive tackle from the year before, Breiden Fehoko.
Behind Washington it is a little more uncertain but it would not be a surprise to me to see Nelson Mbanasor win the backup job. Mbanasor came to the Red Raiders as a defensive end but even out of high school he was pushing the edge of being too big for an end at 270 pounds. After redshirting this year I expect him to be around the 290 pound range which would enable him to play tackle.
There is no shortage of returning options at the defensive end positions. One side will be manned by one of the surprise impact players of last season, Eli Howard. Howard will just be entering his sophomore season. He was the team leader in sacks last year and he will only get better and more disruptive.
I would not be surprised to see Houston Miller giving Howard a breather from time to time next season. Miller’s season was cut short by a knee injury this past season but there is no doubt that he has the type of body that can play defensive end in the Big 12.
On the other side you will have three players that played significant time this season in senior Tony Jones, senior Kolin Hill, and junior Lonzell Gilmore. I love Jones’ pass rushing ability but as a converted linebacker he just doesn’t seem to be able to hold up to the rush. For this reason I believe Hill will be the starter but Jones and Gilmore will see the field a lot.
With all these returning players it is highly unlikely that any of the defensive signees or commits will see much of the field this year. I would expect Jaylon Hutchings and John Scott both to redshirt this year.
What do you think?
Who will be the opening day starter at defensive tackle alongside Broderick Washington?
This poll is closed