Previous position breakdowns:
Today we continue the position breakdowns for the 2013 football season and focus on the Defensive Line. There is a lot of talent and depth at this spot. If they can stay healthy, and some need to get healthy first, watch out! Let’s see who we have here…
6’4 243 lbs
Mauldin has moved from defensive end to tight end and now back to defensive end since arriving at UofL. What does that mean? He is not only a team player, but versatile. You don’t just switch positions unless you are skilled enough to do it and selfless enough to sacrifice for the team.
If he stays healthy, Mauldin could be a disruptive force on the defensive line for the Cards this season. He is 6’4, but runs with speed like he is 5’10. But of course at 243 lbs, he has the size to get around an offensive lineman. He recently said that he wants to break Elvis Dumervil’s sack record at UofL (20.5). For someone to have that kind of goal says a lot about what he expects of himself, and the confidence he has in himself.
6’3 252 lbs
Smith was a member of Charlie Strong’s first class here at UofL. He actually came in as a quarterback. Yes, one of our best defensive linemen was a quarterback! He was a 3 star prospect at QB on Rivals. WIth Adam Froman, Justin Burke, and Will Stein ahead of him on the depth chart, Smith moved to linebacker. He played in 9 games at linebacker and on special teams as a true freshman.
As a sophomore he played in 10 games, starting in 5. He led the team with 5.5 sacks and finished the season with 12 tackles. He added 4 sacks, 29 tackles, and 7 tackles for loss (most on the team) last season. Moving from quarterback to linebacker and then to defensive end shows his versatility and athleticism. He hopes to use that to make an impact up front for the Cards this season.
6’3 300 lbs
A local product from here in Louisville (PRP), Dunn is very important on the line for the Cards. At 300 lbs, he needs to be the run-stopper up the middle that UofL has lacked recently. He has played in 34 of the 39 games since he has been a Card, so he definitely has the game experience. His tackles have increased each season, with 14 as a freshman, 16 as a sophomore, and then 28 last year along with 2 sacks.
Against Pittsburgh last year, Dunn set career highs in tackles (6) and solo tackles (5). He is expected to be one of the leaders on the line this season.
6’3 291 lbs
Roy Philon is another lineman who brings experience to the position. He has played in 34 games over the last 3 seasons, making 17 starts. He had 12 tackles as a freshman, and then had a breakout sophomore season with 36 tackles, 6 of them for a loss. Last year he had 27 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks.
6’4 330 lbs
One of the biggest guys on the teams is this man, Jamaine Brooks. At 6’4 and 330 lbs, he is hard to miss! He is a big run-stopper up the middle for the Cards. However, he suffered a knee injury in the spring and is expected to miss possibly half the 2013 season. He has 32 tackles in his 2 seasons as a Card. If healthy, he would provide UofL with some nice depth on the defensive line against the run. Hopefully he can recover quickly and get back for this season.
6’5 287 lbs
As a true freshman in 2011, Dubose played in all 13 games and had 22 tackles, 2 sacks, and 3 tackles for loss. In his first college game against Murray State, he recorded 4 tackles. So from the start, Dubose has been an impact player. Last season he played in 7 games, starting in 4 of those. He had 15 tackles on the season.
At 6’5 and 287 lbs, he also has good size and can line up either on the end or the interior of the line. Even if he is not technically the “starter”, he will still be on the field for important snaps this season.
6’5 234 lbs
In just 2 seasons with the Cards, Mount has played 22 games, making 8 starts. As a freshman, he had 10 tackles, and then backed that up with 26 last year! He gives the Cards a great athlete, not to mention someone 6’5, at the defensive end position. He has shown in his first 2 seasons that he can play, and this year he will certainly be battling for even more playing time. If Lorenzo Mauldin or Marcus Smith need a break and Mount comes in the game, there really is not a drop off, and that is very encouraging.
6’2 287 lbs
As a true freshman last season, Rankins played in 10 games, starting in 2 of them. He recorded 7 tackles and 1 sack. That 1 sack was for an 11 yard loss in the Sugar Bowl! He was a 3 star recruit coming out of high school, where he made the 2nd team all-state team twice in the state of Georgia. He continues to improve and will give the Cards added depth on the defensive line.
6’3 261 lbs
Dawson came to the Cards as a highly touted linebacker. He played in the Army All-American game. As a senior, he recorded 126 tackles, 12 sacks, 8 forced fumbles, and 6 fumble recoveries. With so many talented linebackers last season, Dawson red-shirted to learn the defense better and get bigger in the weight room. That increased size, as well as the linebacker position still being pretty deep, has moved Dawson from linebacker to defensive end.
Anytime a linebacker moves to defensive end, you end up with a speedy pass rusher. Dawson could be very valuable this season, as he can play defensive end or linebacker if he needs to.
6’1 318 lbs
Brown is another lineman that played as a true freshman last season. He appeared in 7 games and had 10 total tackles. As a senior in high school, he was named the Georgia Class A All-State Defensive Player of the Year. He was a Three-time All-Region selection as well. At 6’1 and 318 lbs, he could be a solid backup up the middle for Brandon Dunn or Roy Philon.
Other defensive linemen on UofL’s roster:
Pedro Sibia RS Freshman 6’3 301 lbs
Dominique Dishman RS Sophomore 6’2 284 lbs
Finesse Middleton Freshman 5’11 259 lbs
De’asian Richardson Freshman 6’3 285 lbs
Stacy Thomas Freshman 6’1 237 lbs
Gabe Ahner RS Freshman 6’3 267 lbs
Andrew Polston RS Sophomore 6’6 275 lbs
Kyle Shortridge Freshman 6’3 297 lbs
Aaron Ahner RS Sophomore 6’3 252 lbs
One of the players I am most excited to see this season, not just on the line, but in general, is Lorenzo Mauldin. I think he is a “freak” athlete. He has the size to power through someone, but also the speed to get around them. He says he wants to break Elvis Dumervil’s sack record. That will be very tough, because we all remember how dominant Elvis was in games, especially against Kentucky when he had 6 sacks. However, if anyone on this team can challenge that record, it will be Mauldin. If he can stay healthy, keep your eye on him this season. Trust me, he will be a fun one to watch!
Something else I noticed while doing this was how many guys we have that played as true freshmen. In college football, you usually see offensive and defensive linemen red-shirt as true freshmen so they can get bigger and stronger. With lack of depth, a lot of these guys have been forced to play early on. So the game experience is there, even for the true sophomores. That could be a big advantage if some guys need a few plays off or even get hurt. We won’t be putting in guys who haven’t been in a game.
I think this unit can definitely be a strength of the entire defense. Mauldin and Marcus Smith could both have outstanding years. If we get big leads on teams, and the other team is forced to pass all the time, they will be licking their chops to get into that backfield and get the QB. I see it like the Colts in the Peyton Manning days. They were built on getting leads and then letting Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis rush the QB like they were on a mission and no one was going to stop them. That could be Mauldin and Smith this season. I am looking forward to seeing them for sure!
Tomorrow I will bring you the breakdown of the Linebackers!
*Some info came from GoCards.com