Spring Review: Defensive Tackles

Lionel Dotson

Defensive tackle has been a tough spot for the Wildcats. A lack of depth and quality players have left the team vulnerable up front and that has hampered the defense all around. That may be a thing of the past. The team appears to have some depth and talent to shore up the position.

POST SPRING DEPTH CHART
1. Yaniv Barnett, Jr.
1. Lionel Dotson, Jr.
2. Donald Horton, Fr.
2. Paul Phillip, Sr.
3. Dave Bertrand, So.
3. Ricky Parker, Sr.

2006 Spring Scrimmage Stats (Courtesy UA Athletics)

Player Tackles Sacks
Dotson 6 3
Barnett 5 2
Parker 3.5 2
Bertrand 3 0
Horton 1 0

WHAT WE KNOW:

*Arizona has more depth on the defensive line than they have had since the late stages of the Dick Tomey era.

*Donald Horton was a pleasant surprise. Despite being moved around in the fall and offseason shoulder issues, Horton returned to the interior defensive line where he played in high school and really took to the spot.

*Lionel Dotson was another talk of camp. He was an impressive inside presence despite giving up a lot of size to the offensive linemen.

*Non-scholarship performer Dave Bertrand was very solid against the run. Bertrand is among the stronger players on the team, but also has some nice athleticism that stems from being a high school wrestler.

Paul Phillip missed the bulk of spring nursing his shoulder.

WHAT WE DON'T KNOW:

*Will Gabe Long get cleared to play? Long is in town, taking classes at Pima. We hear he is doing well but there is no guarantee.

*Can Dotson and Horton perform the way they did this spring against the bigger offensive linemen they will face all year.

*Can Phillip remain healthy? Phillip has been plagued by shoulder issues since he arrived on campus and although he is expected to be just fine, there is no guarantee he'll be 100%.

*Will Ricky Parker make an impact? Parker made some strides this spring but still hasn't maximized his ability. He's learning the importance of hard work but is behind the other DT's.

*Will Conan move? Although he will get his start at TE, freshman Conan Amituanai could very well find himself at DT before it is all said and done.

WHAT WE THINK:

*Despite giving up a lot of size, the Wildcat interior defensive line will be just fine.

*Gabe Long will get in school and be an instant impact player.

*Yaniv Barnett will continue to be a nice man in the middle for the Cats. He may not start, but he will see plenty of action.

*Marcus Smith will stay at defensive end, despite having the size to play inside. He will probably play DT at the next level.

*The Cats won't miss Lawrence Ball who will have a decent career at Fresno State.

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