Tuli Letuligasenoa Commitment Anchors Future of USC Defensive Line

Rasheem Green during USC football practice at Howard Jones Field. (Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy)
Rasheem Green during USC football practice at Howard Jones Field. (Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy) /

Yet again, USC Football has found a Polynesian defensive lineman of the future. This time it’s four-star tackle Tuli Letuligasenoa. How does he fit into the defense?

Tuli Letuligasenoa, a four-star defensive tackle from Concord De La Selle, gave his verbal commitment to Clay Helton’s USC football team on Sunday. Not only is a massive get because of his large, 295-pound frame, but the 6-foot-2 Letuligasenoa joins a dynamic set of linemen who could be putting together something special.

This calendar year alone, the Trojans have gotten four Polynesian additions to the defensive line, all bringing a different wrinkle.

Marlon Tuipulotu looks to be a Day 1 nose tackle of the future after an impressive spring, Jay Tufele is a highly touted tackle filling a desperate position of need, and Brandon Pili is a big, raw, yet athletic nose tackle who needs time to develop.

Letuligasenoa finds himself as a mixture of the four, which could give him his own unique role within the USC defense.

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His frame gives him the option to play any of the positions on the line, and his technical savvy could see him leapfrog others for early playing time, just like Tuipulotu and Tufele.

As is stands now, here’s what you could project the 2018 defensive line depth chart to look like when he gets on campus, if there are no departures and seniority settles close calls:

However, Rasheem Green is draft-eligible. Considering he’s ranked as the eighth defensive end in his class per NFLDraftScout.com, it’s more than possible he departs after 2017.

Christian Rector is Green’s ideal immediate replacement, as evidenced by a strong showing in spring camp and steady development during his two years in the program.

That’s where Letuligasenoa’s size comes into the play. At 295 pounds, he won’t be an ideal nose tackle until he bulks up further. Stevie Tu’ikolovatu played at 320 during his senior season, while Noah Jefferson was listed at 6-foot-6, 315 pounds.

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With Pili as an intriguing project at nose, and Tuipulotu presumably holding down the fort for now while Jacob Daniel politely watches, Letuligasenoa’s best bet is to slide in at defensive end.

It would potentially give USC an All-Poly defensive line when spelling Rector in 2018, or perhaps for good in 2019, should Rector excel and depart for the NFL Draft.

Of course, Letuligasenoa’s commitment is of the verbal variety. A lot can change between now and next fall, both with his college decision and the USC roster.

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But for now, he’s one of six commitments in the Trojans’ 2018 recruiting class, which might be the most highly regarded class this far from Signing Day since 2012.