The Cowboys received some bad news today in the midst of Big 12 Media Days with the announcement that projected starting defensive tackle Vili Leveni will be missing the entire 2015 after having surgery on his Achilles.
Leveni made the announcement himself via a Facebook post this morning:
Mike Gundy would later confirm the news while at the podium during Big 12 Media Days.
After redshirting during his freshman season, Leveni played in all 13 games in 2014 as a big part of the Cowboys’ line rotation, recording 16 tackles (4.5 for a loss) and a sack. He was slated to be a starter in 2015, according to Cowboys defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer.
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While the news is obviously not good for a defensive tackle position lacking depth, the Pokes still have some talent there, with Vincent Taylor and Motekiai Maile expected to provide plenty of quality play at the position as part of Spencer’s rotation.
Taylor, a sophomore who recorded tackles in eight games last season, had an excellent spring game, compiling five tackles (three for a loss) and one sack. Taylor would later be called the most improved defensive player by Spencer.
Maile, a junior transfer from Tyler Junior College in Texas, has been the subject of much praise from the Cowboys coaches since arriving in December.
“He’s got the size already, the strength,” Spencer said of Maile back in the spring. “Just in our system and in the speed of the games, he’s just going to get better and better.”
The absence of Leveni will also mean more playing time for sophomore Ben Hughes and junior Eric Davis, who both played sparingly last season.