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Villanova Football Preview 2014: Defensive Line

The Wildcats lost a lot on the defensive line with Rakim Cox and Antoine Lewis graduating, but some big bodies remain.

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Wildcats lost a lot on the defensive line with Rakim Cox and Antoine Lewis graduating, but some big bodies remain. That defensive line was key for the team last season, as they moved to a four-man front for much of the season in an attempt to stop some of the CAA's elite running backs at the line of scrimmage. The transition to a 4-2-5 defensive alignment was largely successful.

This season, Pat Williams and Reggie Parris are the only returning starters on the defensive line, though most of the players listed on the depth chart have experience in the rotation and should be well-prepared for their role.

Projected Depth Chart

LDE NG RDE
Reggie Parris (Jr) Pat Williams (Sr) Tanoh Kpassagnon (R-So)
Noble Ajakaiye (Jr) Jordan Hunter (Jr) Mike Williams (R-Fr)

Nose Guard

Big bodied Nose Guard Pat Williams will be the anchor of the defensive line. He has slimmed down to 6-0, 287-pounds heading into this season and will hopefully add more explosion in the middle of the defensive front, while still offering a massive frame to take on multiple blockers. Williams moved into the starting role during last season, when the 'Cats conversion to a four-man front required another tackle on the field. He thrived in that role and will be the centerpiece of the defensive line this season.

Jordan Hunter, whose development had been slowed by injuries earlier on, will be the primary backup at nose and should see a decent amount of playing time as well. The 6-2, 324-pound Hunter is an imposing presence in the trenches and has the strength to disrupt his blockers and cause havoc. He played in all 11 games last season as a back-up.

Defensive End

At the defensive ends, athletic freak Tanoh Kpassagnon is slated to start at one of the spots. The redshirt sophomore has the potential to be a dominant force at defensive end, with a great combination of speed and strength. Villanova will rely on him to get into the offensive backfield and make plays. Reggie Parris will be the other starter at defensive end, after starting all 11 games last season opposite Rakim Cox. Parris had 28 tackles (4 for loss) and 2 sacks last season.

The expected back-ups at defensive end are Noble Ajakaiye and Mike Williams. While Williams redshirted last season, he has a big body that should be an asset for the Wildcats this season. Ajakaiye, meanwhile, played in all 11 games last season, recording two sacks and 17 tackles.