Rhett Wilkinson

Utah Defensive Line Ready To Become Stars

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

Falling Star: Nate Orchard (Fakahafua)

Under the surname Fakahafua, Nate Orchard (6-foot-3, 245 pounds) started at left end as a sophomore, earning honorable mention all-Pac-12 honors and racking up 8.5 tackles for loss and three sacks.

Orchard was Utah’s fourth-leading tackler last season with 48, including 9.5 tackles for loss with three fumble recoveries, three sacks and two forced fumbles. In Utah’s loss to USC, he provided the Utes’ highlight by stripping the ball from quarterback Matt Barkley and returning it eight yards for a touchdown.

Rising to the next level, however, is less likely for Orchard compared with his peers. The 20-year-old got married before his team started fall camp, changing his surname to his guardians’. In not playing alongside Lotulelei and the Krugers, he won’t have as many opportunities. Many local media already thought he underachieved given who was putting their hand down next to him. A plateau junior season seems likely.

Consequently, Orchard probably will share more time with converted linebacker Jason Whittingham — MUCH more than with Reilly, anyway.

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