PROVO — BYU's defensive line hasn't been earning as much chatter as some of the team's other position groups during the team's fall camp.


Perhaps it's because of the amount of veteran experience along the line, from players the coaches know they can trust. There's little question about who is going to contribute in 2015.

Four players who started three games or more in 2014 are back, and Bronson Kaufusi rejoins the line at defensive end after starting 10 games at outside linebacker last season.

If some of BYU's younger talent can earn coaches' trust and spell the experienced upperclassmen, it could lead to the defensive line earning plenty of time in the limelight this season.

"This year, more than any other, we have some depth," Remington Peck said. "It’s playing a big part as far as allowing us to get our rest and to split up the reps a little bit. That’s been nice, keeping each other healthy and getting some more guys involved."

Returning experience

Senior Bronson Kaufusi (6-8, 257) is the face of the defensive line, leading all returners with 15.5 career sacks. The defensive end represents one of BYU's best pro prospects, and coach Bronco Mendenhall called him one of the team's top two pass rushers, along with linebacker Sione Takitaki.

"I love being at defensive end, it’s always good to rush. That’s what I like to do," Kaufusi said.

Junior nose tackle Travis Tuiloma (6-2, 300) is also a staple on the defensive line and started 12 games last season, the most among BYU's returnees. Kaufusi called him "the quiet Titan. … He's physical, like a pit bull in there getting after every single play."

At the defensive end position opposite Kaufusi, senior Logan Taele (6-2, 293) is the expected starter. The former scout team walk-on started three games in 2014 and had 31 tackles, tops among defensive linemen.

Senior Remington Peck (6-4, 270) has been a consistent contributor for BYU the past two seasons and will be again this season. He has rotated taking reps at both defensive end and defensive tackle during fall camp and provides solid depth along the line.

Senior Graham Rowley (6-4, 280) started eight games at left defensive end last year and gives the Cougars four seniors on the line. Like Peck, his experience will be invaluable.

Junior defensive end Tomasi Laulile (6-4, 280) and sophomore nose tackle Kesni Tausinga (6-1, 302) also return.

Key additions

Freshman Moses Kaumatuele (6-2, 245) was a member of the BYU scout team in 2011 before embarking on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He's back and has been earning valuable reps.

Freshman Felesi Tofi (6-3, 280) also returned from his LDS Church mission during the offseason, while freshman Tevita Mo'Unga (6-3, 340) was a member of the Cougars' 2015 recruiting class.

Dark horse candidate

Laulile received a ringing endorsement from a player on the opposite side of the line, starting offensive lineman Ului Lapuaho.

"He's really good, he's under the radar," Lapuaho said of Laulile. "Going against him in practice, I know I got to bring my best."

Kaumatuele is a strong candidate here as well.

General outlook

With the high amount of returning veteran experience along the defensive line, it's not a stretch to see the men in the trenches as the leaders of the defense.

The Cougars finished 20th nationally in rush defense last year, giving up 121.85 yards per game, but were No. 70 in the country in sacks per game (2.0). By comparison, in-state schools Utah (4.23) and Utah State (3.5) were first and third nationally, respectively, in that category. This shows how much room BYU has to grow in pressuring opposing quarterbacks.

"Get to the quarterback a little bit more," Peck said when asked about expectations for the defensive line this season. "Last year, I felt like we did a good job (against) the run and we were really focused on that. This year, just let loose a little bit and bring the sack number up."

If BYU does that, while developing its young talent and sustaining its effectiveness against the run, 2015 can be considered a success.

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