Last fall, Utah’s Dave and Joe Kruger joined All-American Star Lotulelei in anchoring arguably the best defensive line in the Pac-12. That success has parlayed into NFL careers. While Lotulelei was drafted in the league’s first round in April, Joe Kruger was selected in the seventh round after leaving Salt Lake City one year early.
In surviving the Cleveland Browns’ minicamp as a free agent, Dave Kruger joins star brother Paul — also an alum of the Utah defensive line — in the Rock ’n’ Roll capital of the world.
Now, the Utes hope they can at least reflect the on-field inspiration offered by the Krugers of recent past. Or maybe even better yet, a Star.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham and defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake are confident they at least have some of the other type. They have lost 75 percent of the unit to the bright lights of the NFL. It led a defense that ranked second in the Pac-12 against the rush last year.
But Whittingham has again referenced his familiar “reload, not rebuild” mantra with his new crew. And some players are just as confident (or more): defensive ends Trevor Reilly and Nate Orchard are saying that the 2013 unit can be better than last year's.
At this point, its members in the trenches certainly shine differently (though there's stories of family with this year's version, too).
Rhett Wilkinson is a project manager for UtahPolicy.com and hails the true-blooded Aggies from Utah. The co-founder of magazine Aggie BluePrint.com, he's been an intern for the Deseret News and other publications. firstname.lastname@example.org | @wilklogan