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Nevada football 2021 summer position preview: Defensive Lineman

Nevada v UNLV Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Nevada’s first game isn’t until Sept. 4 in a road contest against California — their first non-conference game since its 37-21 victory against Texas El-Paso on Sept. 21, 2019.

After finishing the year 7-2 — capped-off by a 38-27 win over Tulane in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl — the Pack look to replicate their successful season. But before the regular season begins, let’s preview the roster.

This week, we dive into the defensive lineman, led by All-Conference honorees Dom Peterson and Sam Hammond. Let’s get into it!

Previous weeks:

Anyone departing?

Adam Lopez

Lopez was Nevada’s only 2020 senior across the defensive line that did not elect to return. He did not play in each of the last two seasons, but tallied 14 tackles with one sack in six contests throughout the 2018 season. Prior to Nevada, he spent one season at American River College, where he had 33 tackles, 7.5 tackles-for-loss and two sacks.

Jack Bolduc

Bolduc is not listed on the roster for the 2021 season. He has not seen action over the last two years after redshirting in 2018.

Jaden Lewis

Lewis is also not listed on the roster without reason. After registering five tackles and 1.5 tackles-for-loss in nine 2019 contests, the then-junior did not see the field last year.

Anyone returning?

NCAA Football: Nevada at Wyoming
Wyoming Cowboys wide receiver Raghib Ismail Jr (17) runs against Nevada Wolf Pack defensive end Sam Hammond (98) in 2019.
Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Hammond

Hammond, who earned All-Mountain West second-team honors last season, returns as a sixth-year senior at defensive end. In his first season of real opportunity, he tallied 32 tackles, 7.5 tackles-for-loss with four sacks. Hammond is projected to be Nevada’s top defensive end next season and one of the top EDGE disruptors in the Mountain West Conference.

Nevada v UNLV
Defensive tackle Dom Peterson #99 of the Nevada Wolf Pack sacks quarterback Max Gilliam #6 of the UNLV Rebels
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Dom Peterson

Though he has shifted around the defensive front throughout the last two seasons, Peterson is Nevada’s primary 3-tech defensive tackle. With Hammond, Peterson made the All-Mountain West second team after registering a team-high 4.5 sacks with seven tackles-for-loss and 27 tackles in eight contests. In the back-end of the season, he was limited after spraining his ankle against Hawai’i. Peterson was the Mountain West’s second-leading tackle-for-loss (15.0) and sack leader (9.0) in 2019. Thus, he should be in the preseason conversation for the conference’s defensive player of the year award for the second consecutive season.

Zak Mahannah

Mahannah appeared in eight contests last season, tallying 14 tackles with two tackles behind the line of scrimmage and 1.5 sacks. He joins Hammond, Kameron Toomer (see below) and Tristan Nichols (also see below) as one of the Wolf Pack’s returning 2020 seniors.

Maurice Wilmer

Wilmer did not see the field in his redshirt freshman 2020 campaign.

Amir Johnson

Johnson played in all nine contests last season. He had 10 tackles, two tackles-for-loss and one sack. He played in five combined games the two seasons prior with two tackles.

Crishaun Lappin

Lappin converted from tight end at the beginning of last year. Lappin appeared in each of Nevada’s nine games, but didn’t record a stat. In his first two seasons with the Pack, he hauled in five receptions for 31 yards without a score. I’d guess that he’d be the odds on favorite to intercept any pass on the defensive line!

Jack Powers

Powers totaled two tackles in eight contests last year after not appearing in 2019.

Nevada v UNLV
Quarterback Max Gilliam #6 of the UNLV Rebels throws the ball as he is hit by defensive end Kameron Toomer #7 of the Nevada Wolf Pack.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Kameron Toomer

Barring any injury, Toomer plans to start on the other side of Hammond for the second straight season. Toomer, a super senior, started in all nine games last year, totaling 29 tackles. Toomer added three tackles-for-loss, a fumble recovery and one lone sack (with four tackles) in the Wolf Pack’s season-opener versus Wyoming.

Tristan Nichols

Nichols shined in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl versus Tulane, tallying each of his four tackles and both of his sacks on the season. The super senior appeared in six other contests and should serve a similar role in 2021.

Teivis Tuioti

Tuioti redshirted in 2020.

Aaron Overton Jr.

Similarly to Tuioti, he redshirted in 2020.

Giovanni Miranda

A year removed from playing in all 13 games, Miranda played in just two contests in his sophomore campaign in 2020.

Nevada v UNLV
Linebacker Trevor Price #45 and defensive end Daniel Grzesiak #44 of the Nevada Wolf Pack react after Grzesiak made a tackle on a kickoff return in the second half of their game against the UNLV Rebels.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Daniel Grzesiak

Grzesiak finished with 16 tackles, two sacks and three tackles behind the line of scrimmage as a sophomore last season.

Breylon Garcia

Garcia did not see the field last season. In 2019, he played in all nine games, recovering one fumble in Nevada’s season-opener in its comeback victory versus Purdue.

Thomas Witte

Witte redshirted as a freshman in 2020.

Curtis Bonam

After redshirting in 2019, Bonam didn’t see the field in 2020.

Christopher Love

Love did not see the field in 2019, but earned one of the team’s Scout Team Player of the Year awards. Last year, he appeared in seven games, recording six tackles, 1.5 tackles-for-loss and one sack against Tulane.

Any new faces?

Chace Davis

Davis was dubbed the 70th-highest junior college transfer and was the Wolf Pack’s top defensive line recruit for its 2021 class, per He last played for East Los Angeles College in 2019. Davis totaled 14 tackles, including four tackles-for-loss with two pass breakups and one fumble recovery. He graduated from La Serna High School in Whittier, Calif., and was an All-League selection after tallying 25 tackles with four sacks as a senior.

Here is what Mountain West Connection’s Mike Wittmann wrote about Davis in Nevada’s 2021 recruiting profile.

Chase is a rarity in the 2021 recruiting world; a junior college player. He is still talented, however, and will bring his talent to the defensive line. Davis brings great size to the position and is still agile enough to make a move on blockers and into the backfield. He is adept at getting to the quarterback and disruptive the rhythm of the offense. Chase will bring immediate depth and ability to the Wolf Pack d-line.

Chris Whittaker:

Whittaker spent two seasons apiece at Kentucky — where he didn’t see action — and Florida International University before transferring to Nevada in January. In two seasons with FIU, he had 28 tackles with 5.5 tackles-for-loss, 2.5 sacks and one fumble recovery in 15 career games. He was a three-star recruit out of Chaminade-Madonna High School.

Here is what Wittmann wrote about Whittaker:

He stuffs up the run at the line of scrimmage, giving backs no lane to run. Whittaker is also a stout pass-rusher, his lean frame and long strides allowing him to be force. He has an array of pass moves and wraps up well on his tackles. Chris should be plugged into a role immediately and give Nevada some defensive line depth.

Dwight Togiola

Togiola was Nevada’s second-best EDGE recruit and the ninth-highest in its class. A graduate of Timberlane High School in Lacey, Wash., the three-star recruit was an All-League and an All-Area Selection. He also earned Defensive Lineman of the Year honors. Togiola committed to Nevada over Eastern Washington, UNLV and Hawai’i.

Here is what Wittmann wrote about Togiola:

Dwight is a two-way lineman coming to the defensive side of the ball in college. He has big production in high school thanks to high high-motor and tenacious pass-rushing. Togiola is just as effective in the run-game, plugging up the holes and hard hits. He uses his speed to get after quarterbacks and has active hands to secure the sack. Dwight is versatile on the line and his production should carry over to college.

Dion Washington

Washington, dubbed as Nevada’s third-best EDGE recruit, was a two-star recruit out of Shadow Ridge High School in Las Vegas, Nev. He chose the Wolf Pack over Southwest Minnesota State and Northern Arizona.

Here is what Wittmann wrote about Washington’s fit:

Dion is another defensive end in this class. He has a strong build and power on the edge of the defense line. Washington is explosive off the one of scrimmage and is more than a match for blockers as he blows past them to get to the quarterback. He does a good job keeping contain in the run game, remaining low in his stance and taking good angles towards the ball. Dion has big potential in college if he keeps developing on his current track.

Jeremiah Bodwin

Bodwin was a team-captain at Parish Episcopal High School in Dallas, Texas — a program that finished within the top-45 nationally in 2019. According to 247Sports, Bodwin was listed as a linebacker, but plans to transition to the defensive line with the Wolf Pack. He was their second-best recruit — trailing quarterback Clay Millen for the top spot. Bodwin chose Nevada over service academies Army, Navy and Air Force, plus Buffalo, Georgia Tech, Kansas, Colorado State and UNLV, among others.

Here is what Wittmann wrote about Bodwin:

Jeremiah is one of the best players in this Nevada class. He is a strong, athletic pass-rusher who gets past blockers with ease. Bodwin is quick off the snap, too fast for offensive lineman and he pushes them aside on his way to sacking the quarterback. He is patient at the line and is sure not to overpursue and still be in position to make a play. Jeremiah should not have to wait too long before seeing the field and making an impact.

Caleb Manson

Manson was the Wolf Pack’s third-best defensive line recruit. A graduate of El Modena High School in Orange, Calif., he was dubbed a three-star recruit per 247Sports. Throughout his high school career (17 games), Manson tallied 52 tackles, six sacks and three fumble recoveries.

Here is what Wittmann wrote about Manson:

Caleb is a defensive end with great size. He is a quick, rangy attacker when he rushes the quarterback, making good use of his length. Manson possesses a great speed rush, and beats his blocker with a fast move, getting to the quarterback in a hurry. Even if he doesn’t get a sack, he can block the passer’s vision with his long arms and active hands. Caleb will be a big problem for opposing offenses who can’t block him.

My Thoughts:

Nevada’s defensive line should be one of its most formidable units on its roster. Predicating that Peterson and Hammond remain healthy for the whole season, there is no reason to believe that the dynamic duo could create havoc in the backfield and put the conference on notice. Nevada under-performed in the sack department before the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl; it recorded 15 sacks in eight regular season games and then recorded eight alone (without Peterson and Hammond) — including seven in the second half (!) — against Tulane. Though it finished the COVID-shortened nine-game season with 23 sacks, the third-best mark in the conference (three behind SJSU), another year of continuity, experience and health (for the large part), don’t be surprised if the defensive line showcases as one of Nevada’s strongest units throughout 2021.