July 11, 2011

Preseason position breakdown; defensive line

Louisiana Tech brings back the majority of its talent from a year ago on the defensive line and also adds to its depth and talent level. This group has a mix of seniors all the way to freshman. Last season the weakness of this group was at tackle and Tech addressed that weakness with recruiting.

A breakdown of this position must begin at the defensive ends. There is a ton of talent in the starters with Matt Broha and IK Enemkpali. Broha was originally a Kentucky commitment out of high school and eventually flipped his commitment to Tech and signed with the Bulldogs. Enemkpali was recruited as a linebacker but it was obvious very quickly that he would better serve the Bulldogs at end.

Broha is climbing the Tech career sack list and currently sits at third entering his senior season. Broha exhibits raw power and good speed when rushing the passer. He also plays extremely smart. He is certainly the anchor of the Tech defensive line at his left end position. In 2010, Broha had 44 total tackles, 9 sacks and a forced fumble.

At right end is Enemkpali. Enemkpali had a run-in with a security guard at a local bar following Tech's spring game, which landed him in jail. Eventually those charges would be dropped, but he has had plenty of internal punishment this summer from head coach Sonny Dykes. He should not miss anytime on the field from this incident.

On the field in 2010, Enemkpali totaled 36 tackles and 2.5 sacks. Enemkpali exhibits an extreme ability to come off the ball quickly. At one point last season against Texas A&M, Enemkpali was able to beat A&M quarterback Jerrod Johnson to the corner to keep contain. Had he not stopped Johnson, no one else was close enough to prevent him from running for tons of yardage.

Backing up Broha at left end is converted middle linebacker Kendrick James. James has great instincts and physical strength to play end but a few adjustments are needed in order for him to strive at his new position.

Behind Enemkpali at right end is Andre Taylor and Christian Lacey. Out of spring, Lacey and Taylor were listed as "or's" behind Enemkpali. Once Lacey is 100% following his injuries last season it is fully expected for him to be the top backup for Enemkpali and possibly challenge Enemkpali for the top spot. Lacey had an extremely productive freshman season but dropped off significantly following that season. Given his success his freshman year however, it is evident he has the ability. Taylor enters his redshirt freshman season, and like all positions, it is difficult to depend on freshmen to contribute greatly.

Other ends who will provide depth are both freshmen: true freshman Vontarrius Dora and redshirt freshman Carter Street.

As earlier mentioned, tackle was the weakness for Tech in 2010. The lone returners in this group are Justin Ellis, Adam Hymel and Shakeil Lucas.

Ellis should start at right tackle with Lucas behind him in the depth chart. Ellis is a monster a 6-2 340 pounds. If he can keep his conditioning up, Ellis could truly become a difference maker on the Tech defensive line. He may never be a statistical producer, but he will clog the line of scrimmage preventing teams from having much success running up the middle. Lucas really came on late in the year last year and continued during the spring. He is a little undersized but gets the job done inside.

Coming out of the spring the left tackle position had an "or" on the depth chart between two guys: Hymel and Ruston native and junior college transfer Jon'al White. Expect White to take over the starting spot by game one against Southern Miss. White possesses incredible power and quickness off the ball similar to former Bulldog great, D'Anthony Smith. To continue the comparisons, Hymel reminds us of Mason Hitt.

Tech signed several tackles in 2010 that reported yesterday and began class today. Those players are: Tyler Porter, Dirk Tanner and Malcolm Pichon. Porter could play either tackle position and has the potential to play much like White. Tanner will most likely play left behind White and Hymel. Tanner never gives up on a play and has a high football IQ. Pichon will probably play right tackle and give Ellis a backup with similar stature. Every one of these freshmen could contribute as true freshmen.

Tech is building what could be one of its strengths for years to come at defensive line.

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