The 2022 Bronko Nagurski Trophy Preseason Watch List is out, and USC football's great Defensive Tackle Tuli Tuipulotu was named to it. The trophy goes to the top standout defensive player in the nation, and Tuipulotu is absolutely within the realm of possibility to be that type of player.
Tuipulotu has been very good ever since his freshman season in 2020, and he took his game to an even higher level last year. He posted 48 tackles last season to go along with 5.5 sacks. He had 7.5 tackles for loss and two PD's. Again, these types of numbers as a tackle aren't easy to pick up.
He forced a couple of fumbles, and also had a scoop and score in 2021. Despite terrible defensive coaching and play around him, Tuipulotu had a great season. He's easily the top player on this defense, and is poised to have a monster year in 2022.
Tuli Tuipulotu is the only proven GREAT player on USC football's defense.
USC football only has one player who has PROVEN to be great on defense: Tuli Tuipulotu. They have players who have proven to be good on defense. Nick Figueroa, Eric Gentry, Brandon Pili, and Mekhi Blackmon all come to mind.
They have some players who have shown promise too. Many fans like Xavion Alford and Calen Bullock for that reason, and they absolutely should. Tuipulotu, though, is the only elite player. He's a Pac-12 Preseason First-Team All-Conference selection, and plays a position that SC needs badly.
Figueroa and Pili have had injury issues in the past, and Korey Foreman is a bit of an unknown heading into this season. Tuipulotu is the only sure-thing on this D-Line, and it's no secret that USC doesn't have too much talented depth on the line.
The team unfortunately has to rely on Tuipulotu for strong trench work, but it's light work for Tuli. The 2020 three-star recruit plays with a blue-collar mentality, and he wreaks havoc for offensive lines very consistently.
It doesn't take much to see that he embraces challenges when watching him play, and he also plays with a lot of confidence. He's exactly the type of 6-4, 290 lb monster any team would want leading their defense.