Story Poster
Photo by © Casey Sapio - USA Today
USC Football

How Jay Tufele's Departure Impacts USC's D-Line

September 16, 2020

Josh An

When Jay Tufele announced he was going to forego his remaining eligibility and declare for the NFL Draft, waves were sent through USC social media as it was the first “roster loss” due to COVID-19. Tufele was one of the stalwarts of USC’s defense and a very productive playmaker. The Trojans still have Marlon Tuipulotu and Brandon Pili to fill the interior defensive line positions, but Tufele’s loss means those two will have to take a leap whenever the next season is played. Of course, they can’t play ALL the snaps in a game, so that also means the likes of Caleb Tremblay, Jacob Lichenstein, and others will also have to take advantage of this opportunity as well. We don’t know who will end up getting the majority of reps, but what we do know is that they’ll be aggressive and “violent”, one of Coach So’oto’s favorite coaching words. 


Marc Kulkin

From a fan perspective I cannot tell you how disappointed I am that we won’t be able to see Jay Tufele play his final season for the Trojans.  Tufele announced via social media...   

“I have come to the point where it is time for me to do what is best for my career and family. I have decided to opt out of the upcoming football season and declare for the 2021 NFL Draft,  Although it pains me to leave all the people who have become so instrumental in my life, know that I will carry all of you with me in my heart as I embark on the next phase of my journey.”  


First and foremost, Jay and his family have much larger issues to deal with right now, and the USC Scoop Family wishes his sister, Nina, and the whole Tufele family a speedy recovery and healthy future.

The NFL is getting a potential star, however, what will Tufele’s absence mean for USC’s defensive line?   Heading into the spring, Tufele, had become the team leader by example with his workouts, and now with his departure who will grab the baton and be that guy?   Is Brandon Pili ready bring the consistent effort every down or will he be a rotational guy?   

When Coach Vic So’oto was introduced as the Trojan’s new defensive line coach he started mentioning guys who had caught his attention early, and Caleb Tremblay’s name was one of the first to be mentioned.  Tremblay certainly looks the part physically and from a maturity stand point the young man is as solid as they come based on my limited interaction.

Does the personnel change force Coach Orlando and Co. to re-evaluate scheme going forward?  With the PAC-12’s decision to play a season still hanging in the balance, simplicity and just getting the team prepapared to play physically is still step one. 

Without, Tufele, anchoring the line, Marlon Tuipulotu, becomes the centerpiece for the opponent to game plan with Drake Jackson’s role changing.  Will Jackson’s role change again?

Keep an eye on De’Jon Benton.  This dude just quietly goes about his business and continues to work hard and compete.  Two more  players who have the ability to step in and make the transition seamless are Connor Murphy and Jacob Lichtenstein.  

The respective senior and Junior have the imposing size to play tackle in a 3-4 scheme, and they’re also versatile enough to line up in a 4/3 hybrid style.  Remember, Lichtenstein, was one of the first freshmen defensive linemen to get some some run back in 2017 before injuries took over the last couple of years.  

The Trojans will have to find Tufele’s protege’ soon...or maybe they already know who is ready to tbe the next man up.

subscribe Verify your student status
See Subscription Benefits
Trial only available to users who have never subscribed or participated in a previous trial.