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Preseason Scouting Notes: Jay Tufele, DT, USC

Redshirt Junior | 6’3 305 | Salt Lake City, UT | July 25, 1999

 

A very effective run stuffer who is able to take on multiple blockers because of his strong anchor and possesses a mean bull rush

 

Overview:

Jay Tufele became one of USC’s most productive defensive lineman last season after becoming a starter. He finished his redshirt sophomore campaign starting all 13 games having 41 total tackles, including 6.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. With his 2019 performance, Tufele received a 2019 Phil Steele All-American honorable mention, All-Pac-12 first team, AP All-Pac-12 second team and Phil Steele All-Pac-12 first team. He also repeated as USC’s Defensive Lineman of the Year after winning the award in 2018 as well, really identifying him as the premier player on the defensive line. He primarily lined up as a 3-technique for USC’s 2019 defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast’s 4-3 base defense, but he has the versatility, play strength, and run stuffing ability to play any technique on the interior of the defensive line.

Strengths:

– Strong anchor when defending the run
– Willing and able to take on multiple blockers on both run and pass plays
– Bull rush overwhelms inferior offensive lineman
– Play strength
– Good shedding ability on run plays
– Possesses the ability to disengage from blocks as a run defender
– Has the versatility to play any technique on the interior DL
– Has good body control to keep runs in front of him
– Very athletic for his size

Areas to improve:

– Needs to refine finesse pass rush moves
– Doesn’t consistently show a clear plan when pass rushing
– Doesn’t always convert pressure into sacks

Injury concerns:

N/A 

Projection:

Tufele profiles as an ideal 3-technique in a 4-3 base scheme or a 4i-technique in a 3-4 base scheme. He will start out as a 1st and 2nd down run stuffer at the next level, and if he can add more pass rush moves to his repertoire, he should be a three down starter by his second season. He could potentially move inside to the 1-technique or the 2i-technique spot on pass rushing downs, as long as he improves his pass rushing ability in 2020. The play strength and run stuffing ability Tufele already has in his arsenal, and his potential he has to really refine his pass rushing skills could attract teams looking for a starting 3-technique or 4i- technique. If his pass rushing improves and his run stopping ability doesn’t decline, Tufele should hear his name called on the first or second night of the draft.

What to watch in 2020:

Will Tufele put in the work to become a consistent pass rusher? Already having very good run stuffing ability, if he does improve his pass rushing prowess he will become a high level interior defensive lineman at the next level. To become an overall interior defensive line force, he’ll need to work on improving his finesse pass rush moves and remain consistent as a run stuffer next year. Due to his versatility and depending on if he can add quickness and finesse pass rush moves to his game, Tufele has a shot at coming off the board on the first night of the draft.