SE: Interior Defensive Line Talented, but Lacks Depth

Mo Latimore is the longest-tenured assistant coach in the Big 12

Aug. 17, 2012

Editor's Note: K-State Sports Extra continues its nine-part look at the 2012 Wildcats with each assistant coach taking an in-depth look at his respective position. Past articles include the quarterbacks and defensive ends. Today we highlight the interior defensive line.

To have K-State Sports Extra delivered to your inbox each morning, click here.

By Mark Janssen

Newcomers will be counted on to step front and center this fall in the middle of Kansas State’s defensive line... and in a hurry.

Seniors Vai Lutui (6-2, 289), John Sua (6-0, 290) and Javonta Boyd (6-2, 294) return, but that’s pretty much where the line is drawn in terms of players with any experience.

Still, interior defensive line coach Mo Latimore says, “We have good kids who are working hard. We don’t have a ton of experience, but Lutui and Sua have proven to be solid players for us.”

Of both returnees, Latimore said, “They’re good at rushing the passer, and they’re good against the run. You really can’t say one area is better than the other. Those are positions where we ask them to do the same thing. They have to be tough and strong.”

Lutui was in on 34 tackles last year, which included 2.5 for negative yards and one sack, while Sua had four tackles to his credit. Boyd, who redshirted the 2010 season, made three tackles in five games last year.

A late-arriving newcomer being counted on is junior Hakeem Akinola, a 6-foot-4, 300-pounder from Fullerton College who didn’t arrive on campus until the start of fall camp. Akinola is a product of Burtonsville, Md.

“We haven’t coached him, so there’s not much to say,” said Latimore. “We know about his junior-college career and what he did and how he did it there, but this is a whole new game. We understand that he was well coached, but there’s a lot to learn here in the areas of techniques and the fundamentals that it takes to play at the Big 12 level. Playing junior college is good football, but the Big 12 is a whole new world. He needs to get a grasp on what we do and start developing their games.”

Of the two levels of football, Latimore said, “In junior college, you can rely on brute strength and just playing football without having the total package. At this level, you really have to step it up and play consistently every day and every play against someone else that is good enough to play Big 12 football. You have to do it over, and over, and over again.”

Also adding depth to the interior defensive is junior-college transfer Wesley Hollingshed (6-1, 299) from Trinity Valley CC, along with freshman Travis Britz (6-4, 287) from Harrisonville, Mo.

• Lutui is a product of Mt. San Antonio Community College where he led the team to a 13-0 record in 2010 and both state and national titles
• Lutui’s full first name is Vaikalafi
• A native of Santa Maria, Calif., Sua arrived at K-State from Allan Hancock College prior to 2011
• Ranked as the 58th best player in Florida out of St. Petersburg, Fla., Boyd played at Butler County Community College prior to arriving at K-State

• Started at offensive guard for K-State in 1970-71 after playing two seasons at Hutchinson Community College
• A native of Byron, Ga.
• Earned All-America and All-Big Eight honors in 1971
• Is the longest-tenured assistant coach in the Big 12… Is entering his 29th season at K-State, plus he has coached at UTEP and Missouri with a total of 15 bowl games
• Coached on the defensive side at K-State in seven years when the Wildcats were ranked in the top five in the nation in total defense

The Kansas State football team will be on public display for the first time this fall at the K-State Football Kickoff on Saturday.

Gates open at 5 p.m., at Bill Snyder Family Stadium for the final hour of practice. Coach Bill Snyder and team captains will then address the fans and following their comments, players and coaches will be available on the field for a one-hour autograph session.

Fans seeking autographs are asked to limit their number of items to one per person.

Parking for the event is on the west side of the stadium and entry to the stadium is through Gates C and D. The west side ticket window will be open with season and single-game tickets on sale.

We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact either Mark Janssen or Kansas State Assistant AD for Communications Kenny Lannou.