The all important, often discussed defensive tackle position. Sometimes it is sort of like bringing up the old chicken vs. the egg debate but when you have a team that has struggled in one area more than others, that answer seems to become obvious.
Since the Orange Bowl season of 2007-2008 Kansas fans have moaned and groaned over the depth and talent at defensive line. Some of that criticism has been fair, some has been unfair and other parts have simply been out of everyone's control. This year, for the first time in awhile there seems to be some legitimate optimism and that comes from the work put in over the offseason by those players on campus and the addition of a few well placed junior college players who should help the depth and rotation.
John Williams - Williams first moved to defensive tackle during Mangino's final season and while he was extremely raw he did show the ability to get a push in the middle and play the position. Year one under Turner Gill is a bit of a lost season for everyone and last year Williams sat due to injury. This year he returns to the field for one final run and he has once again put himself in a position physically to make an impact.
- Kevin Young - Young's career feels as though it has gone by in a blur but then you realize he still has two seasons. Young really suffered under the last S&C staff adding weight and struggling to stay healthy while losing much of what made him such an impressive prospect out of high school. There seems to be a lot of optimism that he has regained that quickness in his step and turned his weight gain into the 'good' weight gain that we always here about. If Young can keep the 285 pound frame, regain that step and stay healthy, he'll be a contributor in the rotation this year.
- Keba Agostinho - No player has been mentioned more when it comes to transforming their body as Agostinho. He was undersized on arrival and has taken a leap forward this year moving to the interior and becoming a heavier load to handle. He can shift to end as needed but he'll definitely factor into the rotation somewhere up front.
- Jordan Tavai - Right behind Williams, in terms of being an impact transfer, we have Tavai. Tavai was a late arrival but it sounds as if the staff is pleased with his conditioning upon arrival. He was a player that the staff had to battle for late during the signing period and a player that everyone has been anxiously awaiting. Now Tavai steps in alongside Young, Agostinho and Williams where he can provide a solid four man rotation at tackle. Depending on how things shake out with the rest of the depth chart, he can also slide out to end.
- Keon Stowers - Stowers has done everything that has been asked since signing with Kansas and he's another front four player that can shift to any of the four spots dependent on need. Anyone else excited that I'm on the sixth player that could realistically contribute at defensive tackle this year? Past years this list has been limited to three.
- Shane Smith - Smith is a walk on that had to play quite a bit last season and he could still work into the game plan this year. He has the size to play in the middle and he has some experience in Big 12 play. He probably isn't the ideal given the new additions, but it's great to have depth like this on the roster.
- Tyler Holmes - Just a freshman, Holmes should be able to take a redshirt if everything goes according to plan.
- Dylan Avery - Avery is a walk on, a little light for defensive tackle but he has rotated through at end and tackle this fall.
- Ty McKinney - Still no news on the arrival of McKinney but Weis continues to stay optimistic about that happening. If McKinney shows up and is in shape and ready to play then Kansas gains a lot of flexibility up front as a player like Stowers or Tavai can rotate to other positions without hurting the depth at tackle.
This is a position that can't help but improve. No we're not going to have worldbeater defensive tackles that wreck every Big 12 offensive front on a weekly basis but Kansas has some depth. Depth, experience and some players that are finally in the shape that they needed to be two years ago. This area could be a huge boost to any defensive improvement in 2012.