Before I begin, I want to thank every single first responder, doctor, nurse, health professional and every essential worker around Nevada (where I reside) and the United States who are working to help us keep safe and defeat this pandemic. I hope everyone is, and remains safe during these troubling times. Hopefully this will all end soon.
Now lets jump into it.
With spring football postponed for the foreseeable future, we will be breaking down each position group of the Nevada football team every Monday.
Today, we will be looking the defensive line group.
4/6: Running backs
4/13: Wide receivers
4/20: Tight ends
4/27: Offensive Lineman
Meder tallied 25 total tackles, 3.5 tackles-for-loss and two sacks in his two seasons with the Wolf Pack. Last year, Meder registered six tackles in six games before suffering a season-ending elbow injury versus Wyoming. Prior to Nevada, Meder played two seasons at American River College in Sacramento, Calif. In his two seasons with the Beavers, Meder totaled 103 tackles, 18,5 tackles-for-loss, 5.5 sacks, one interception and two fumble recoveries.
Sekona registered 118 tackles, 12.0 tackles-for-loss, 1.5 sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in four seasons with Nevada. Sekona earned one of Nevada’s Captain awards last year. He finished with 30 tackles, 3.5 tackles-for-loss and 1.5 sacks last season. His first career sack came against Wyoming, finishing the game with three tackles. His notched a season-high seven tackles versus Oregon. The 6-foot lineman notched a career-high nine tackles with 0.5 tackle-for-loss versus Toledo in 2018.
Brunson appeared in just three games for the Wolf Pack in his freshman year last year without logging a tackle. Brunson, a three-star recruit out of high school according to 247sports.com, chose Nevada over Texas A&M, Arkansas, Texas, Texas Tech, SMU, Memphis and North Texas, among others. While attending Lufkin high School in Lufkin, Texas, Brunson was a two-time first team all-district honoree and helped his team to a district championship.
In his freshman season with Nevada, Bonam redshirted. Bonam attended Cathedral High School in Los Angeles, Calif. Bonam totaled 18 tackles and two sacks in his senior season. He chose the Pack over Boise State, Fresno State and Sacramento State.
Arnold redshirted for his freshman season last year. He attended Yuba City High School in Yuba City, Calif., and was a three-sport athlete. Arnold, a two-star recruit exiting high school per 247Sports, chose Nevada over Fresno State, Air Force, Weber State and Idaho State.
Green, who is entering his senior season in 2020, totaled a career-best 16 tackles last season. Starting in five games at nose tackle last year, the 6-foot-2 lineman had 5.5 tackles-for-loss with one sack. His lone sack came versus instrastate rival UNLV. Green has totaled 31 total tackles, seven tackles-for-loss and 2.5 sacks in his Wolf Pack career.
Johnson totaled two tackles in four games with Nevada last season. As a redshirt freshman in 2018, Johnson appeared in two games but did not make a tackle. Johnson came out vaunted high school program Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas, Nev. He won three state titles, and earned a first-team all-state selection while he was there.
Last year, Lewis registered five tackles and two tackles-for-loss last as a redshirt sophomore. Four of those tackles came in Nevada’s season opener versus Purdue, also totaling 1.5 tackles-for-loss. Lewis appeared in three games in 2018, but did not log any tackles. A two-sport athlete from Berkeley High School in Berkeley, Calif., he was named to the second-team all-league as senior. Lewis, a two-star recruit, chose Nevada over UNLV, San Jose State, Wyoming, Hawai’i and Sacramento State.
Lopez did not see the field for the Wolf Pack last year as a senior and has been granted another year of eligibility. Playing in six games (one start) in his first season with Nevada in 2018, Lopez registered 14 tackles, 2.5 tackles-for-loss and one sack. He was sidelined for Nevada’s final seven games after a heart issue. Prior to Nevada, Lopez played two seasons with Meder and Zak Mahannah at American River College. Lopez totaled 33 tackles, 7.5 tackles-for-loss and two sacks as a freshman.
As a true freshman, Garcia appeared in nine games. Garcia did not record a tackle, but recovered a fumble versus Purdue — one of the five turnovers the Boilermakers had on the evening. With Brunson, Garcia is a Lufkin High School graduate. The 6-foot-3 lineman was a first-team all-district honoree, totaling 64 tackles, 17 tackles-for-loss and nine sacks in his senior season. Graded as a three-star recruit by 247Sports, Garcia chose the Pack over Memphis, Tulane, Rice, Texas State, Tulsa and Air Force.
Nichols, a junior college transfer, appeared in 11 games last season with the Wolf Pack. Nichols totaled five tackles — including four sacks and 3.5 tackles-for-loss. His four sacks ranked second on the team. Nichols also forced a fumble versus Weber State. Two of his sacks came versus UTEP and tallied 1.5 tackles-for-loss versus Fresno State. Prior to the Wolf Pack, Nichols played two seasons at Arizona Western College. He tallied 23 tackles, five tackles-for-loss and two sacks as a sophomore.
Mahannah, a local product from Reno High School, played in just five games last year as a redshirt junior. He totaled four tackles, including a season-high two tackles versus Utah State. Mahannah earned a Pack scout team award in 2018. Mahannah spent two seasons at American River College with Meder and Lopez prior to his Wolf Pack career. In his sophomore season with the Beavers, he recorded 32 total tackles and 0.5 tackles-for-loss.
Hammond had a breakout season with Nevada last year. Appearing in all 13 games (six starts), Hammond tallied 35 tackles, three tackles-for-loss and 1.5 sacks. He recovered two fumbles versus Ohio in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Entering his senior season, the 6-foot-5 lineman has totaled 53 total tackles, 4.0 tackles-for-loss and 2.5 sacks in his career. Hammond will be likely start at one of the defensive end spots across from Dom Peterson entering 2020.
Speaking of Peterson, lets save the best for last. Peterson is undoubtedly the best player on this defensive line (I recently listed Peterson as a potential 2021 draft prospect in our most recent roundtable; check it out here). Peterson, named to the first-team All-Mountain West team as a defensive end, led the defensive line and was T-7 on the team with 40 tackles. He was second in the conference in sacks (9) and tackles-for loss (15) — both behind fifth-round pick Curtis Weaver (Boise State). Peterson registered 44 tackles, 10.5 tackles-for-loss and three sacks in his redshirt freshman season in 2018. Last year, his best game on the year came versus New Mexico where he finished with four tackles, three tackles-for-loss and two sacks.
Any new faces?
Tuioti, a three-star recruit per 247Sports, was ranked as the seventh-best recruit in the state of Nebraska and the 162nd-best defensive tackle nationally. Tuioti also received offers from Idaho State and Army. As a senior at Southeast High School in Lincoln, Neb., Tuioti registered 73 tackles and two sacks. He was an all-conference honoree and was named to the first-team Super State team.
Here is what Mountain West Connection’s site manager and recruiting guru Mike Wittmann said about Tuioti in Nevada’s 2020 recruiting breakdown:
Teivis is a tenacious defender in the middle of the d-line. He is athletic and nimble in getting past blockers to wreck havoc in the backfield. Tuioti is quite the force of nature when he makes contact for a tackle, using his full strength to deliver the hit. He relies heavily on a swim move to get into the backfield and while effective, he would benefit from development of other moves. Teivis will need to add some weight before he’s able to make a difference for the Wolf Pack defense but he will be a force to be reckoned with before too long.
This is a decent group for the Wolf Pack. With defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel gone, the Pack will be mixing up its defensive front instead of the usual three-man front it ran under Casteel in his 3-3-5 base defense. The biggest question, other than how this unit will perform in new roles, is whether Peterson can replicate his dominant season. Peterson was dominant — certainly making his case for arguably the best defensive lineman in the conference last year — so it might be unfair to say he will. Peterson can play both on the inside and the outside. He’s a versatile threat that offensive lines will need to locate every snap. I think he, along with Hammond, Green and Lopez (depending on his health) or Nichols can serve as a formidable front entering 2020.