2024 Big 12 DT Rankings: Lee Hunter, Dontay Corleone Top the Conference

    Some of the Big 12's most fearsome defensive tackles have left the conference, but plenty of returners remain in the 2024 Big 12 DT Rankings.

    While some of the Big 12’s top defensive tackles left for the NFL, transfer portal attrition was relatively light, and as such, the interior line of scrimmage in the conference will be manned by a slew of returners in 2024.

    With many big men ready to plug the gaps and stuff the run, who reigns supreme in the 2024 Big 12 DT Rankings?

    2024 Big 12 DT Rankings

    10) Tymon Mitchell, TCU Horned Frogs

    A former Georgia Bulldog, Tymon Mitchell transferred to the Horned Frogs in 2022 after three years in Athens. Mitchell has yet to start a game at the collegiate level, but he’s appeared in all 27 games for the Horned Frogs the last two seasons, racking up 35 tackles, four for a loss, and three sacks.

    The 6’3″, 310-pound super senior will be called upon more in 2024 with Damonic Williams hopping in the transfer portal.

    9) Collin Clay, Oklahoma State Cowboys

    With one season at Arkansas (2019) before spending the last four in Stillwater, Collin Clay finally emerged as a starter for the Cowboys last season. He racked up 14 tackles and 2.5 sacks in eight starts, primarily serving as a run-stuffer to eat up space.

    At 6’4″, 300 pounds, Clay will man the nose position for one last ride with the Cowboys.

    8) De’Braylon Carroll, Texas Tech Red Raiders

    The lone out-of-conference transfer on this list, De’Braylon Carroll joined the Red Raiders this offseason after five seasons with the Rice Owls. Carroll appeared in 38 games for the Owls, amassing 101 tackles, 19 for a loss, and 7.5 sacks. He set career highs in all three categories last season with 47 tackles, nine for a loss, and 3.5 sacks.

    The 6’0″, 300-pound super senior has one year left and will get the chance to make the most of it in Lubbock with DTs Tony Bradford Jr. and Jaylon Hutchings graduating.

    7) J.R. Singleton, Iowa State Cyclones

    Entering his fifth year with the Cyclones, J.R. Singleton had a career year last season as a redshirt junior. In eight starts, he racked up 22 tackles and 3.5 sacks, nearly doubling his career total in both categories. The Cyclone DT had just 21 tackles and two sacks in 23 games, seven starts from 2020-2022.

    A CFN 2023 All-Big 12 Honorable Mention, the 6’2″, 300-pound Singleton finds his way on the 2024 Big 12 DT Rankings with one season left.

    6) Chidozie Nwankwo, Colorado Buffaloes

    One of two transfers on the 2024 Big 12 DT Rankings, Chidozie Nwankwo was a four-year starter at Houston before transferring to the Colorado Buffaloes.

    He was part of the Cougars’ transition to the Big 12 last year and will do the same at Colorado. Starting at least six games each season since 2020, he registered 94 career tackles, 11 for a loss, and five sacks in 41 games, 33 starts in Houston.

    MORE: 2024 Big 12 Weekly Football Schedule 

    Although designated as a super senior, the 5’11”, 290-pound Nwankwo will have two years left to play, and he’s received enough praise from Colorado head coach Deion Sanders to ensure he will see plenty of snaps.

    5) Edward Vesterinen, WVU Mountaineers

    After starting just one game in 20 appearances in his first two seasons with the Mountaineers, Edward Vesterinen started every game for West Virginia last year, manning the DT spot in a 3-DL scheme. He registered 28 tackles, 4.5 for a loss, and three sacks his junior year, earning 2023 All-Big 12 Honorable Mention.

    The 6’3″, 285-pound senior from Finland is expected to have an even bigger role in 2024, landing just outside the top five of the 2024 Big 12 DT Rankings.

    4) Uso Seumalo, Kansas State Wildcats

    After spending his first two seasons at Garden City CC, Uso Seumalo jumped from JUCO to the Big 12 in 2022. Seumalo played sparingly his first season with the Wildcats, with 14 appearances but no starts, registering five tackles, before handling a full load last year.

    In 10 starts, he recorded 18 tackles, 1.5 sacks, a pass defense, and a fumble recovery, earning a 2023 All-Big 12 Honorable Mention. His stats don’t jump off the page, but his massive size does at 6’3″, 337 pounds. Now fully acclimated to the next level, the senior from Hawaii should ascend even further in 2024.

    3) Junior Tafuna, Utah Utes

    Having started at least 11 games each in of the last three seasons for the Utes — 11 at left tackle in 2021, 25 at DT 2022-2023 — Junior Tafuna and his team are newcomers to the conference, but he still finds himself near the top of the 2024 Big 12 DT Rankings.

    Tafuna was named to the 2023 All-Pac-12 Second Team after racking up 17 tackles, 3.5 for a loss, and a sack. The 6’3″, 308-pound senior is fully acclimated to his new position after two seasons and is expected to increase his production in 2024.

    2) Dontay Corleone, Cincinatti Bearcats

    The aptly nicknamed Dontay “The Godfather” Corleone comes in at second on the 2024 Big 12 DT Rankings after a breakout the last two seasons with the Bearcats. He wreaked havoc off the bench in 2022 before starting every game at nose tackle last season.

    At 6’2″, 320 pounds, Corleone registered 39 tackles, 6.5 for a loss, three sacks, one pass defense, a forced fumble, and a recovery to earn a 2023 All-Big 12 Second Team nod.

    Corleone nearly lands on top here, but he’ll have another year to try with two years left to play.

    1) Lee Hunter, UCF Knights

    After spending his first season (2021) with the Auburn Tigers, Lee Hunter transferred to UCF with a full slate of eligibility in 2022. Hunter didn’t make any starts his first year for the Knights before breaking out last season, starting every game with 69 tackles, 11 for a loss, and three sacks, earning a 2023 All-Big 12 Honorable Mention nod.

    KEEP READING: 2024 Big 12 EDGE Rankings

    Hunter, listed at 6’4″, 320 pounds, has two years left and is an unquestioned leader for the Knights, landing him at the top of the 2024 Big 12 DT Rankings.

    2024 Big 12 DT Rankings | 11-20

    11) Aliki Vimahi, Utah
    12) John Nelson, BYU
    13) Tommy Dunn Jr., Kansas
    14) Hakeem Ajijolaiya, Houston
    15) Domonique Orange, Iowa State
    16) Samuel Okunlola, Colorado
    17) D.J. Withers, Kansas
    18) Quincey Ledet Jr., Texas Tech
    19) Cooper Lanz, Baylor
    20) James Hanson, Texas Tech

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