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Nusi Malani commits to Washington State: ‘Hoos left in D line group at Virginia

virginia defense
Mandy Alonso and Joey Blount tackle Miami tailback Cam’Ron Harris in the end zone for a safety in UVA’s 30-28 win. Photo courtesy UVA Athletics.

Nusi Malani struggled to get on the field in his two years at Virginia, logging just 180 snaps, but with the D line unit losing Mandy Alonso and Adeeb Atariwa to graduation, you need warm bodies.

Bad news there: Malani is taking his talents to Washington State.

This news came down on Wednesday, and with two other defensive linemen – Aaron Faumui and Jordan Redmond – still in the portal, this is obviously a position group of concern.

That said, is Virginia really set to lose all that much here?

Meh, maybe, maybe not.

New coach Tony Elliott hasn’t hired a defensive coordinator, and hasn’t signaled what his plans are defensively in terms of scheme.

Bronco Mendenhall recruited to a 3-3-5 scheme with a foundation of space-eaters on the D line.

Malani, at 6’6”, 275 pounds, certainly fit that bill – as did Faumui (6’1”, 300) and Redmond (6’0”, 305).

Malani (127 snaps in 2021) and Redmond (123 snaps) battled injuries, and none of the three were particularly effective.

Pro Football Focus gave Faumui the best season grade of the three at 53.2. Redmond earned a 49.6 grade, and Malani graded out at a ghastly 29.7.

Still, they were on the field for 32.9 percent of the defensive line snaps in 2021, and with Virginia losing Alonso (617 snaps, 28.6 percent of the D line snaps in ’21), the whole being left behind is gaping.

The leading returning guy would be 6’2”, 315-pound sophomore Jahmeer Carter (496 snaps, 49.4 PFF grade in 2021).

After that, it’s 6’4”, 270-pound sophomore Ben Smiley III (219 snaps, 30.4 PFF grade) and 6’6”, 280-pound redshirt freshman Olasunkonmi Agunloye (204 snaps, 54.0 PFF grade).

Class of 2021 four-star recruit Bryce Carter, a 6’3”, 280-pounder, only got four snaps, but just based on what the recruiting services thought of him, you’d think he’d be in the mix to earn some two-deep time in the spring.

Another Class of 2021 recruit, Michael Diatta, a 6’5”, 255-pounder, got 35 snaps (with a 59.3 PFF grade) as a true freshman in 2021.

Other names to throw in for posterity: freshmen Lorenz Terry, Hugh Laughlin and Andrew Williams, redshirt freshmen Nate Morris and Sam Bond, junior Samson Reed.

Five guys who saw the field, six guys who didn’t.

Elliott and his staff will have to work the transfer portal to beef up the D line.

Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press