Let’s begin with Utah’s three senior defensive tackles. Although none have been full time starters, all three should be familiar faces to Utah fans that have been paying attention over the past 2-3 years. These three are the strongest contenders to take over starting spots this fall – although there are a few underclassmen that will push for the right to be significant parts of the rotation as well.

Hauati Pututau is perhaps the most experienced of Utah’s returning defensive tackles. Pututau has been an important part of Utah’s tackle rotation since returning from an LDS mission. Since arriving on campus, Pututau has appeared in 39 games, including making his lone start last year against Northern Illinois. Last season, he recorded seven total tackles while showing a knack for disrupting the passing game – knocking down three passes. Pututau in many ways is the “Mr. Reliable” of the Utah defensive tackles. He brings leadership and a strong work ethic to the role and should be one of the seniors that sets the tone for the entire Utah defense.

Viane Moala saw his first action as a Ute last season after sitting out a year following his transfer from Hawaii – where he was a starter. Moala played in all 14 games last season, primarily coming in to spell Leki Fotu. Like Fotu, Moala is physically imposing, standing at 6-foot-6 inches, 320 pounds. He’s got good athleticism and is strong enough to eat up blocks and give space to the linebackers. Moala recorded 14 tackles a season ago, and showed one of his strongest performances of the year in the Alamo Bowl against Texas. A strong camp could land a significantly higher impact role for him this fall.

Pita Tonga saw less action last season than we had seen him in previous years – mostly because he was dealing with nagging injuries. He still played in 10 games, recording four tackles and picking off a pass against UCLA. Tonga has the most career starts of any Utah defensive tackle with six (all coming as a junior in 2018). He has 34 career appearances and is the career interception leader for Utah’s current defensive linemen. If healthy, Tonga should play a significantly more active role this season and will be a contender for a starting role.

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