Defensive tackles come in all shapes and sizes. While coaches crave the 300-pound lane-clogging DTs, there is also a need for smaller and quicker tackles to make plays up the middle.
That is exactly what Virginia is getting with incoming freshman James Trucilla.
At 6-1, 270 pounds, nobody is going to confuse Trucilla with one of those massive defensive tackles that go in the first round of the NFL draft, but the Pennsylvania native is the perfect fit for Virginia’s defense.
No matter who the coordinator is, Mike London has always preferred speed over size from his defensive tackles on third down. Remember John Kevin Dolce? He was hardly the biggest DT out there, but he carved out quite a niche for himself as a pass rushing specialist up the middle on third down. Don’t believe us? As former Miami quarterback Jacory Harris.
In addition, last fall the Hoos often shifted defensive end Mike Moor inside to defensive tackle in the nickel package to put more speed on the field.
Back to Trucilla… He will never be asked to clog the middle on defense, but the staff will be counting on him to limit the run and make plays in the backfield. What Trucilla lacks in size, he certainly makes up for in energy. Trucilla is the prototypical "run stopping" defensive tackle, as seen by his 18 tackles for loss as a senior in 2014.
Let’s take a closer look at this intriguing defensive tackle.
Name: James Trucllia
High School: Cathedral Prep (Erie Pa)
Ranking: Rivals/ESPN/247 three-stars
Recognition: Two-time First-Team All-State selection, two-time member of the Erie District 10 All-Star team, recipient of the 2015 Wilwohl Memorial Award which is Cathedral Prep’s award for outstanding student character and athletics achievement, awarded the 2014 Richard Arrington Award as Erie County’s outstanding lineman
When evaluating defensive tackles, it is important to look at an entire game film, rather than just a highlight reel. DTs like Trucilla earn their keep my disrupting the interior o-linemen and limiting the field of play for opposing running backs.
As seen in the film above, Trucilla is an elusive defensive tackle, and uses his 6-1 frame to maneuver around bigger offensive guards. Similar to David Dean, Trucilla’s lack of height is an asset at times, as it allows him to start low to get underneath the offensive line.
The term "high-motor" is way overused and has become borderline cliché, but Trucilla displays great footwork, and keeps moving throughout the play. Trucilla is doesn’t exactly grab the spotlight on a single play, but he uses his constant energy and high motor to wear down opposing lineman, which enables the former Cathedral Prep standout to make plays against the run.
Trucilla is a virtual lock to redshirt in 2015.
While the Cavaliers do not have a ton of bodies at defensive tackle, the ones that they do have are very good. Returning starters David Dean and Donte Wilkins will reprise their roles, along with a heavy dose of former five-star DT Andrew Brown.
Dean will graduate following this season, but the Hoos will still be in good shape up front with Brown and Wilkins holding down the fort. Trucllia’s size (or lack thereof) provides a nice compliment to the aforementioned mammoths, and the Keystone State native could create a nice little role for himself as a redshirt freshman.
In the meantime, look for Trucilla to spend plenty of time in the weight room (and at your local eatery) adding size this coming year.