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Nevada football 2022 summer position preview: Defensive lineman

Dom Peterson leads a group with plenty of room for growth.

Syndication: Reno Gazette Journal JASON BEAN/RGJ / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Nevada Wolf Pack football team, who suffered one of the biggest roster turnovers in recent Pack memory, will be kicking off in just over two weeks against the New Mexico State Aggies!

Nevada lost its head coach to in-conference foe Colorado State as well as a bevy of transfers. Its top three skill threats — Carson Strong, Cole Turner and Romeo Doubs — elected to go to the NFL and the Pack return less than 30 percent of its production from a year, the lowest in the nation, per ESPN.

Until the start of the season, I will be previewing each unit of its roster each week. So far, we have done quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends and The Union. Today, we preview the other line — the defensive line — who returns just one key starter with plenty of area for opportunity in 2022.

Anyone departing?

Breylon Garcia

Garcia was on the roster in spring but was not entering fall camp; he played in 15 career games with the Wolf Pack from 2019-21, adding just three career tackles with a fumble recovery.

Daniel Grzesiak

Grzesiak was a late bloomer along the defensive line. In 12 games in 2021, he had 19 tackles with 6.5 tackles-for-loss with 5.5 sacks — more than what he had in his two other seasons combined. He transferred to Utah State.

Sam Hammond

Hammond was an All-Mountain West second team honoree — along with Dom Peterson (more on him below) — in 2021, totaling 39 tackles with 9.5 tackles-for-loss. He also had 6.5 sacks, including a two-sack performance against New Mexico State in early October. Hammond was one of the players who used his final year of eligibility in 2021, tallying 124 career tackles with 21 tackles-for-loss and 12.5 sacks.

Kameron Toomer

Like Hammond, Toomer utilized his extra year of eligibility in 2021. He totaled 13 tackles — down from his 29 in 2020 — with 3.5 sacks and 4.5 tackles-for-loss; he generated 73 career tackles with 11.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage and 5.5 sacks.

Jack Powers

Powers, who transferred to East Carolina, finished his Nevada career with 24 tackles — 14 solo — spanning over four seasons. He posted a career-high 21 tackles with four tackles behind the line of scrimmage with 1.5 sacks. He also might’ve had the best hairdo on the team. That’s always a plus.

Tristan Nichols

Nobody burst onto the scene last year quite like Nichols, who was arguably the Wolf Pack’s best defensive lineman in 2021 after earning first-team All-Conference honorees. He totaled 28 tackles, but led the team in tackles-for-loss (11.0) and sacks (10.0), including three two-sack games with one three-sack performance against Idaho State. He forced two fumbles with five quarterback hits and one pass breakup. Over his Nevada career, he had 37 tackles, 16.0 sacks and 16.5 tackles-for-loss.

Curtis Bonam

Bonam was another player who was on the roster in spring, but isn’t now. Over his first three seasons with the Wolf Pack, Bonam, listed at 5-foot-11 and 250 pounds, appeared in just one game without recording a stat.

Teivis Tuioti

Tuioti followed Norvell to Colorado State; he spent just two seasons with the Wolf Pack, appearing in five career games and adding just two tackles.

Anyone returning?

Dom Peterson

Dom Peterson has been arguably Nevada’s best defensive lineman over the last three seasons. In 2021, he totaled 40 tackles with 10 tackles-for-loss with 5.5 sacks, forcing one fumble and recovered one for a touchdown. In 2020, he was named to the All-Mountain West second team — earning a team-most 4.5 sacks with 27 tackles and seven tackles-for-loss. Peterson is one of the few returning defensive starters and should command a lot of attention along the defensive line, opening up room for everyone else to operate.

Christopher Love

Love, who reportedly lost 35 pounds this offseason, is one of the Pack’s most experienced defensive lineman and will play an integral role in its front seven on the interior. In 21 career games at Nevada, he’s made 29 combined tackles with 4.5 tackles-for-loss and three sacks.

Aaron Overton Jr.

Overton, the son of Aaron Overton Sr., who played for the Arizona Cardinals and the Tennessee Titans, has not appeared in his first two seasons with the Wolf Pack.

Dion Washington

Washington, a two-star recruit from Shadow Ridge High School in Las Vegas, Nev., played in only three games and recorded just one tackle as a freshman last season. He chose the Pack over Southwest Minnesota State and Northern Arizona, per

Isaiah Overton

No, he and Aaron aren’t related. Overton, a graduate of Parish Episcopal High School in Dallas, Texas, did not make an appearance with Nevada in 2021.

Dwight Togiola

Togiola, a three-star recruit from Timberlane High School in Lacey, Wash., did not make an appearance last season. He originally chose Nevada over Eastern Washington, Hawai’i and UNLV.

Thomas Witte

Witte has not made an appearance in two seasons with Nevada.

Anyone new?

Ike Nnakenyi

Nnakenyi was the Wolf Pack’s fourth-highest non-transfer recruit, per 247sports. He was a three-star recruit from Coronado High School in Las Vegas, Nev., totaling 94 tackles, 13.5 tackles-for-loss and seven sacks in his final two seasons. He chose Nevada over offers from Mountain West Conference foes UNLV and Colorado State.

Here is what Mountain West Connection’s Mike Wittmann said about Nnakenyi in the Nevada 2022 recruiting preview:

Ike is a pass-rusher with plenty of talent. He is extremely active after the ball is snapped, dedicated to getting after the quarterback. Nnakenyi is long and athletic, getting by blockers with his long strides and quickness. He plays through the whistle and has underrated strength, pushing back offensive tackles on a regular basis. Ike has the potential to be one of the better edge rushers in the Mountain West if he keeps developing.

James Hansen

Hansen joins Nevada after transferring from in-conference foe Utah State this offseason. He played in two seasons with the Aggies, though he redshirted last year after appearing in five games (with nine tackles) as a sophomore in 2021. The former JUCO transfer was a first-team All-Southern California Football Association Southern Regional honoree at Riverside Community College, where he racked up 23 tackles, four tackles-for-loss and two sacks.

Kealii Kalawao-Cummings

Kalawao-Cummings is a walk-on that was recently at Truckee Meadows Community College, who doesn’t have a football program.

Cade Rodahaffer

Radahaffer, a local walk-on from Damonte Ranch High School in Reno, Nev., will be playing on the defensive side of the ball after playing both tight end and defensive end in high school. He caught 380 career passes for 472 yards and three scores while totaling 49 combined tackles with three sacks.

William Green Jr.

Green spent two seasons at Liberty, where he appeared in eight career games with three tackles across three seasons (one redshirted). He previously transferred from Georgia Military School in Milledgeville, Ga., adding 21 combined tackles — nine solo — with a fumble recovery. He’s another candidate to start on the interior line this upcoming season.

Here is what Wittmann said about Green:

William is a transfer from Liberty coming to play for Nevada. He is tenacious at the line of scrimmage, eating up double teams and pushing through them with his strength. Green resets the line easily and shuts down the run game, diagnosing where the ball is going and wrapping up the running back. He moves well and doesn’t give up on plays. William looks like a solid player on the interior of the defensive line and a good bet to see the field next fall.