PROVO — There's a lot of ready options to play at defensive tackle this season, although BYU defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki has tabbed experienced options, such as seniors Kesni Tausinga and Handsome Tanielu, along with junior Meti Taliauli, as his primary options.
“They’re all making steady, consistent improvement and I just thought Handsome and Kesni were just really consistent,” Tuiaki said of making his starting decisions. “The biggest thing between the first, second and third (teams) is just consistency.”
One of the options that could eventually rise up at the defensive tackle spot is recently returned missionary Khyiris Tonga.
“A guy like Khyiris, who is physically, I think, the farthest ahead — just the nuances of the game and understanding things,” Tuiaki said of where Tonga needs to improve. “ So we’ll continue to bring along the guys, like Khyiris, who are just physically ready to play, and rely on the guys with a lot of experience.”
Tonga hasn't played football since his junior year of high school, according to Tuiaki, which makes for at least three years without playing, when adding in his two-year LDS mission service. Over those three years a lot has changed for the Granger High product, but those changes could prove positive.
“He was like 240 (pounds) back then, and now he’s 340,” Tuiaki said. “So a lot of things changed, and he still moves like he’s 240, which is really, really exciting, but he just needs more reps, and it’s going to take some time.”