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UTEP Football 2016 Position Group Preview: Defensive line

Recent injuries display Miners' D-Line depth.

Nose Tackle Projected Depth Chart

  • Starter: Gino Bresolin, 6'2, 290 lbs, Senior. 2015 stats: 19 tackles, 1.0 TFL, 3.4% of team tackles
  • Sky Logan, 6'2, 285 lbs, 23 tackles, 5.0 TFL's, 3.0 sacks, 4.1% of team tackles
  • Tiano Tialavea, 6'3, 350 lbs, Freshman
  • Denzel Chukwukelu, 6'4, 295 lbs, Freshman

Recent injuries have given the defensive coaches some good looks and more possible moving parts along the Miners defensive line depth chart.

Backup nose tackle Sky Logan is dealing with a foot injury which has kept him out of practice this week, and fellow nose tackle Tiano Tialavea has also been rehabbing with the strength and conditioning staff this week.

Gino Bresolin has been the rock of consistency in the middle over the past two seasons, and the young depth behind him is legitimately promising.

Logan broke out last season in his first career start against UTSA. He can be considered as a veteran at this point, and don't forget he's just a junior. After a leg injury halted his recruiting momentum out of JUCO, the Miners have found a production gem in Logan who at one point had over 20 FBS offers.

Tialavea was mentioned by Sean Kugler before camp even started, but injuries have hampered him in making a name for himself early on in fall camp. With his size, and quick first step, there is no doubt he will see snaps this season once he's healthy.

With Logan not suited up, freshman Denzel Chukwukelu has seen some snaps with the 2's and has been an interesting D-line prospect since he signed with UTEP.

Logan and a few others are expected to return in the next week from injury, giving UTEP experience, speed, and size at the nose tackle spot

Defensive End Projected Depth Chart

  • Starter: Mike Sota, 6'4, 285 lbs, Sophomore
  • Christian Harper, 6'4, 290 lbs, Senior
  • Christian Johnson, 6’2, 255 lbs, Freshman

One of the biggest question marks for the UTEP defense is at defensive end.

Nick Usher, Silas Firstley, Luke Elsner, and Lawrence Montegut were all guys with experience with their hands in the ground, but have since been converted to outside linebacker in the Miners new 3-4 defense.

So enter plenty of new faces, but some pretty good size, and run stopping abilities from the Miners pair of ends fighting for a spot.

Sota has had a strong camp, and has steadily improved now being in his third year in the program as a redshirt sophomore.

Harper converted to defensive line last year, playing in 'jumbo" packages, but will now be asked to step up and produce on the outside as a five technique.

Instead of lining up at the three-technique which is basically a defensive tackle, can Sota and Harper give the Miners production from the outside?

Freshman Christian Johnson could also be another to name to watch if the Miners projected starters aren’t ready for the season opener. Johnson has strong hands, and could use a redshirt, but can contribute early if needed due to injuries around the depth chart.

UTEP will now have some legit size on the edge after being undersized in the 4-2-5 scheme, but on some gap fire schemes speed will be key in crossing face of a tackle and/or guard to smash a gap.

Will size help this group of DE's stop the run?

Rush End Projected Depth Chart

  • Starter: Brian Madunezim, 6'3, 275 lbs, Senior
  • Foster Dixson, 6'5, 235 lbs, Freshman
  • Gene Hopkins, 6'3, 245 lbs, Freshman

Recent injuries to Madunezim, Foster, and Freshman Christian Richardson has put a question mark on who is who here at the rush end spot at the current moment.

Madunezim had a strong spring, and fits the perfect physical mold in transitioning to a 3-4 rush end. He battled altitude illness in Camp Ruidoso, but is expected to be a productive starter.

Dixson who has been working with the second team is a player to watch in the future.

At 6'5, 235, the former high basketball standout is just touching his physical potential, and has a solid frame which will just gain more muscle mass over the next couple seasons.

Hopkins has been highly regarded by Kugler since he signed. Another guy with solid size who can move and gives UTEP some hope for the future along the defensive line.

Most of the Miners defensive lineman are inexperienced, but size, talent, and speed for the future looks to be a strong point in this entire defensive unit.