Washington football pulled in their best defensive line class ever in 2019, and now its headliner is ready for a bigger role
Faatui Tuitele was Washington football’s top overall recruit during the 2019 cycle, choosing the Huskies over Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State, and Texas. During the recruiting process, Tuitele was ranked as high as 21st overall by 247 Sports. Why? Simple, because he excels at everything he does on the field.
Tuitele’s aptly named high school film shows a very unique style, that he calls “One Armed Bandit.” After playing his junior and senior seasons with various upper-body injuries, Tuitele has mastered a unique style. He’s strong enough to hold off his matchup with one arm, and has the ability to either blow by the guy in front of him, or bull rush him.
After playing in the four-game maximum to preserve his redshirt during the 2019 season, Tuitele is primed for a bigger role during the 2020 campaign. While it’s unclear how big that role might be, after both Levi Onwuzurike and Josiah Bronson decided to return for their final year of eligibility, the coaching staff can’t keep the talent of Tuitele on the sidelines for very long.
Washington’s deepest position on the roster might be defensive tackle, with at least seven players the team can roll out as quality starters.
When it comes to Tuitele’s utilization, he has the athleticism to line up anywhere along the defensive front. During his first full season, he’ll probably see more snaps in obvious passing situations so he can play to his strengths.
He could spearhead a talented group of young pass rushers that would wreak havoc for years to come. With Laiatu Latu and Sav’ell Smalls at outside linebacker, and either Jacob Bandes or Sama Paama next to Tuitele, that front four would be one of the most talented in the country.
Tuitele’s ceiling is as high as it gets, and he’ll be given every opportunity to shine in Pete Kwiatkowski’s defense. Spring practices would’ve gone a long way to give us a look into his development and where he might fit into the rotation, but now Husky fans will have to wait for summer camp to get that look.
With the experience of Onwuzurike and Bronson, it shouldn’t be a surprise to fans if Tuitele doesn’t start the season as part of the two-deep depth chart. But it also shouldn’t be a surprise when he finishes the season as one of Washington’s top four at the position.