ORLANDO, Fla. – Trysten Hill is no stranger to attention. The 325-lb defensive lineman made waves his freshman year with stellar play and viral videos – squatting the weight of small cars to the delight of Knights fans everywhere.
The hype train only built speed over the offseason and the sophomore is poised to build off his first year at UCF in a big way but in a different position. Hill was moved inside this offseason to nose guard in a transition officially announced through the release of UCF’s depth chart on Friday.
It is a move that will draw attention up the middle of the defense, help stuff the run in a big way, and free up some of the playmakers around the defense – the most excited of whom may be Jamiyus Pittman, who was able to bump out to defensive end in a corresponding move.
“I’m happy with what I’m working with,” said Pittman about the guys around him. “I think I can depend on everybody on the front seven – I can depend on my secondary [too], it’s just… I’m confident that we’ll go out and ball out on Thursday.”
Pittman started eight games in 2016 at nose, racking up a pair of sacks and 28 tackles while fighting through countless double teams – a formidable task for the generously listed six-foot-nothing lineman.
“It gets me one-one-ones now,” gleefully explained Pittman. “No more helmets to the ribs. I’ll be out there working my magic like I was supposed to be [doing] last year.”
His partner in crime across the line, Tony Guerad, had double-digit tackles for a loss last year and notched 3.5 sacks of his own. The duo will get plenty of opportunities to wreak havoc this year, and it isn’t just Trysten’s move. Depth across the board will play a significant factor, and not just because this staff finally pieces to match the roles they carved out in this system, but because it lessens the problem of fatigue in the fourth quarter.
“I expect more production out of those guys this year,” said Defensive Coordinator Erik Chinander. “I expect them to run the show a little bit. With that being said, there are guys that can come in and spell them. It’s a little different than last year, last year we played those guys a little more as they clearly rose to the top of the depth chart.”
UCF still boasts the reigning AAC Defensive Player of the Year and has great depth at outside linebacker by all accounts. If Hill is able to continue his growth and the rotation can play at full-tilt for sixty minutes, this defensive line is going to be scary good.