Rhett Wilkinson

Utah Defensive Line Ready To Become Stars

Created on Jul. 12, 2013 9:44 AM EST

Dwarf Stars: Jason Whittingham And Company

Whittingham is nearly in giant category. The nephew of the coach reportedly is nipping Orchard on the outside. The 6-foot-2, 234-pound sophomore is quick and strong, but lacks the size to become an every-down player. In nine games since returning from an LDS mission, he made 35 tackles, 2.5 stops for loss and two forced fumbles in 2012. He was an all-state player in 2008 at Timpview (Utah) High School and made the honor roll all four years, when THS won three state championships.

Scout.com has described LT Tuipolotu (6-foot-1, 305) as a “steady, hard-working veteran who is eager to finally get a chance in a starting role now that he’s finally healthy.”

Tuipolotu may start at nose tackle and was limited to three games last year. The previous season, he played in 10 games. He was a first-team all-district player for two years at Trinity High (Texas).

Steve Tuikolovatu (6-foot-1, 320), a walk-on redshirt freshman, returned from an LDS mission last fall and has since gained 15 pounds. “Stevie T,” as his teammates call him, is mentioned in this post because Whittingham said he “was arguably the most pleasant surprise of spring camp.”

Sophomore Viliseni Fauonuku may be obscure on the roster, but not in the news. He’s already been mentioned in an investigative Sports Illustrated article about criminal records in college football due to a first-degree felony charge that’s since been cleared. And that was part of a larger, in-depth Deseret News feature about his experience in blaming himself for his baby nephew’s death in a burning house, his move from Utah to Texas to gain a father figure, his conversion to Mormonism and recruitments by BYU and Utah despite his 5-foot-11 height.

Now, Fauonuku will be a two-deep player at tackle as a sophomore. He played in all 12 games last season and played for championship teams in both Texas (Euless Trinity HS, 2007) and Utah (Bingham HS, 2009-10).

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