To start our positional previews counting down the days until the UW Huskies open fall camp, we look at front line of the Pac-12's top-ranked defense from 2017. A year ago, the Huskies ranked No. 2 in the nation against the run.

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The Washington Huskies, entering a season in which they are a favorite to win the Pac-12 championship, open fall camp on Aug. 3 as they begin in earnest preparations for their much-anticipated season opener against Auburn. Today, we begin our fall-camp position preview series, and we’ll start with the front of the Pac-12’s top-ranked defense from 2017.

Who’s back

Defensive tackle
Jaylen Johnson, sr., 6-3, 294
Shane Bowman, sr., 6-4, 288
Jarryn Bush, so., 6-1, 257*

Nose tackle
Greg Gaines, sr., 6-2, 313
Jason Scrempos, jr., 6-6, 292
Josiah Bronson, jr., 6-3, 292*

Defensive tackle
Levi Onwuzurike, so., 6-3, 283
Jared Pulu, jr., 6-4, 283
John Clark, jr., 6-4, 275*

New arrivals
Draco Bynum, fr., 6-4, 258
Tuli Letuligasenoa, fr., 6-1, 338
Mosiah Nasili-Liu, fr., 6-2, 281
Sam Taimani, fr., 6-2, 320

OUTLOOK: A year ago, the Huskies ranked No. 2 in the nation against the run, allowing 2.86 yards per carry — the fewest by any Pac-12 defense since 2008 (USC, 2.73). They did that with one of the best defensive lineman in UW history, Vita Vea, the Pac-12 defensive player of the year who was selected No. 12 overall by Tampa Bay in April’s NFL Draft. Without Vea, it is fair to wonder just how good the D-line can be in 2018, but the line’s overall depth could (again) make it the best in the conference.

STAR WATCH: Senior Greg Gaines returns, but not without some questions about his health. Gaines tore the posterior cruciate ligament in his knee in late October, limiting him over the final month of the regular season and keeping him out of all but a few snaps in the Fiesta Bowl. He then reinjured his knee early in early April and was shut down for the rest of the spring. He is expected to be full-go, or close to it, but the start of camp, but his health will certainly be something to monitor.

KEY STAT: 3.0.
The Huskies averaged 3.0 sacks per game in 2017, improving that figure for the third straight season.

BREAKOUT CANDIDATE: There are several here. Jaylen Johnson and Levi Onwuzurike are at the top of the list, but Shane Bowman, Jared Pulu and Jason Scrempos all had productive springs and figure to be regulars in the D-line rotation. The NCAA’s new redshirt rule — which allows players to participate in up to four games without losing their redshirt status — ought to give Tuli Letuligasenoa and Sam Taimani, among others, a chance to provide needed depth to the interior of UW’s line.