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ASU Football Positional Preview: Defensive line

Here’s a look at Arizona State’s key defensive linemen for the 2017 season.

Arizona State v Washington Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The Arizona State Sun Devils return a defensive line headlined by a mix of upper and lowerclassmen. Three of its linemen, Renell Wren, JoJo Wicker and Tashon Smallwood, saw the field in each game last season, while freshman D.J. Davidson and JUCO transfer Dougladson Subtyl haven’t touched the field yet, but provide extreme talent to Arizona State’s front seven.

Nose Tackle

Freshman D.J. Davidson — It appears Davidson is just a freshman, but once he’s geared in a helmet and full pads, he carries an NFL type psychic. The 6-foot-5, 306-pound Desert Ridge High School (Mesa) product earned 67 tackles (19.5 for loss) with five sacks in his senior year. He enrolled into Arizona State in January, and will likely earn second-team reps this season, but easily has first string potential.

Sophomore George Lea — While the 6-foot-3, 275-pound Lea saw a limited time of six games for twelve total tackles in 2016, he’s bound for a strong 2017 campaign. Lea has consistently lined up as a first-team defensive lineman throughout fall camp, as it seems he’ll snag a spot as a starting nose tackle and make some noise for the Sun Devils.


Senior Tashon Smallwood — As a member of the Wuerffel Award Watch List, Smallwood makes a giving impact on an off the field. He led all ASU defensive linemen with 45 tackles as a sophomore, but totaled just 28 in the following season. Improvement did come in the form of tackles for loss, as he had nine — the most in a single season in his career. This being his four season as an asset to the Sun Devils’ line, Smallwood serves as an active veteran and leader to his fellow linemen.

Junior Renell Wren — In two years of action, Wren has equipped 17 total tackles, with seven of them for loss. He saw action in all 12 games last season and though he’s been taking second-team reps thus far into fall camp, he was a four-star high school recruit and definitely shows it with his strength being 6-foot-5, 295 pounds.


Junior JoJo Wicker — He was tabbed as the captain of the defense prior to the beginning of fall camp and flew alongside senior running back Kalen Ballage to Pac-12 Media Days. As the returning defensive lineman with the most tackles last season (39), he also earned the second-most tackles for loss (11). Wicker has the most weight to carry on his shoulders as he’s also been named onto the watch list for the Bronko Nagurski Award.

Junior Dougladson Subtyl — After passing up offers from Florida State, Washington, Auburn, and Texas A&M to come to Tempe, the Sun Devils earned something special in Subtyl. The Bunnell, Florida native played two seasons at Victor Valley College (California), where he finished his sophomore year with 52 tackles and 18 sacks. As a four-star JUCO recruit, he sat out in 2016, but may play a huge role in Arizona State’s front seven this season.