Welcome to a new series in which we try to determine if the Arizona Wildcats’ position groups are in strong, stable, unstable, serious, or critical condition. First up is the defensive line.
Projected starters: Justin Belknap, PJ Johnson, Dereck Boles,
Backups: JB Brown, My-King Johnson, Adam Plant, Nahe Sulunga, Sione Taufahema, Mykee Irving, Finton Connolly, Kurtis Brown, Jalen Cochran
Justin Belknap is a seasoned veteran, entering his third season as a starter. The former walk-on has a lot of youth behind him with two 2017 recruits in JB Brown, My-King Johnson and two 2018 members in Adam Plant and Nahe Sulunga. That is a young group, with Brown as the only experienced end, but the other three have the ability to contribute in 2018. Jalen Cochran redshirted and suffered an injury his first two years, but serves as solid depth.
PJ Johnson has incredible size at 6-foot-5, 315 pounds and put himself in position to start after just one spring. And it shouldn’t be a knock to the rest of the defensive line, it’s just how well he played.
The hope is that Sione Taufahema is healthy for this season and is ready to take over the No. 2 spot at 6-foot-1, 330 pounds. Mykee Irving, a 2018 signee, could see time as a true freshman at 6-foot-4, 330 pounds.
Redshirt senior Dereck Boles leads the line with experience and will shift to defensive tackle. Finton Connolly has increased his role over the last few years, and Kurtis Brown came away with a surprising freshman campaign considering his torn meniscus late in his high school career.
This is without a doubt Arizona’s deepest position group. There are 12 legitimate scholarship players available and that doesn’t include the hybrid defensive line/outside linebacker stud position. The group is still extremely young, many have never played a down in the Pac-12, but it has a whole lot of upside, and talent level at the position is higher than it’s been in several years.
What condition do you think the Wildcats defensive line is in?
This poll is closed