Position Preview: Defensive Line

By: Ryan Colores MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. -- Central Michigan Football returns the bulk of its primary contributors along the defensive front, headlined by a pair of experienced interior lineman in consensus preseason All-Mid-American Conference picks senior Jacques Bristol and graduate student Robi Stuart. The group blends the overall experience of the returning players, along with an influx of talented newcomers.

First-year defensive line coach Jesse Williams enters his 35th season on the sidelines. He spent the last two years as Tulsa's defensive line coach. Throughout his career, he has also made stops at a variety of programs with his longest stint coming at Colorado State, where he spent 1999-2006 as the defensive ends coach.

Stuart enters his seventh season at Central Michigan as he has accumulated two All-Mid-American Conference team selections and five Academic All-MAC honors. He has been a program staple both as a player and a member of the community, having recently been named to the prestigious Wuerffel Trophy, AFCA Good Works Team, and Campbell Trophy Watch Lists. Over his 50-game and 25-start career, Stuart has totaled 104 tackles (52 solo), 19.

0 tackles for loss and 6. 5 sacks. Lining up next to Stuart on the interior, Bristol also provides a wealth of experience.

He has logged 31 starts in 45 career games, registering 100 career tackles, 20 tackles for loss and nine sacks since arriving in 2019 as a freshman. Junior Jason Williams is back after the experience of playing 25 career games. Last year, he played in all 12 games with one start and accumulated 20 tackles (12 solo) with 5.

0 tackles for loss and 2. 5 sacks. Redshirt sophomores Michael Heldman, Maurice White, Jonah Pace, Quindario Lee, and Will Leggon are all back with experience.

Heldman played in all 12 games with 11 starts and made 19 tackles (12 solo) with 7. 0 tackles for loss and 2. 0 sacks at end, Detroit native White saw action in four games last year after transferring from Memphis, and Pace played in all 12 games and made four tackles.

Lee contributed 15 tackles, 5. 0 tackles for loss and 2. 0 sacks, while Leggon returns from injury.

Malik Denkins and Kade Kostus are returning sophomores, Oumar Conde and tight end convert Jayden Evans are redshirt freshmen. Newcomers include Keshawn Hayden, Brent Hoppe, Brady Neu, and Cade Riddle. While nearly all players who started a game last year are set to return, the defense will have to replace at least one starter in Honorable Mention All-American, First Team All-MAC defensive end Thomas Incoom.

Incoom, who ranked No. 4 in the nation a year ago with 11. 5 sacks, is now in the Denver Broncos training camp.

John Wesley Whiteside also graduated. CMU's defensive line helped the Chippewas rank No. 4 in the MAC last season with 33 sacks and was a key component on a unit that ranked No.

4 in the league in overall defense. .

8/11/2023 3:24:00 PM
Filed 08.12.2023

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