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Top 12 2016 Pac-12 defensive linemen: Lowell Lotulelei following Star's path

Utah is loaded with top defensive linemen.

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

1. Lowell Lotulelei Jr. DT Utah - The best run defender in the conference, Lotulelei is an immovable object in the middle. He is the rare kind of defensive lineman who can take over a game and disrupt an offense all on his own.

2. Eddie Vanderdoes Jr. DT UCLA - Vanderdoes might be the most-talented defensive lineman in the conference but he missed all of 2015 due to injury. If he can come back healthy, and progress from his promising sophomore season, he could be the most-dominant defensive lineman in the conference.

3. Solomon Thomas Jr. DT Stanford - Thomas emerged as Stanford's elite defensive lineman in 2015 and could take the next step to becoming the next Stanford star on the defensive line. He is as versatile and athletic of a defensive tackle as you can find and is a bit like Aziz Shittu with a higher ceiling.

4. Elijah Qualls Jr. DE Washington - Qualls was on pace to be a first-team All-Pac-12 defender before he got banged up in the second half of 2015. He is moving from tackle to defensive end where his ability to make plays in the backfield will be a huge asset.

5. Hunter Dimick Sr. DE Utah - Dimick had 10 sacks in 2014 and looked like he was ready to be a first-team All-Pac-12er in 2015, but was banged up all season. He could be right up there with Lotulelei if he comes back full steam in 2016 as the conference's best pass rusher.

6. Daniel Ekuale Jr. DT Washington State - Ekuale was a huge part of Washington State's defensive renaissance in 2015. He is a tough run-stuffer who should turn into the Cougars' star on the defensive line who will step in for Desinty Vaeao.

7. Kylie Fitts Sr. DE Utah - The UCLA transfer stepped up big time in 2015 with seven sacks and more than 40 tackles.A big, physical defender skilled at knocking the ball loose and punishing runners and QBs.

8. Tashon Smallwood Jr. DT Arizona State - A versatile attacker with pass-rushing skills from the middle. Smallwood had more than 40 tackles in 2015 with 8.5 for-loss.

9. Pita Taumoepenu Sr. DE Utah - Pita led the Pac-12 in sacks for a good chunk of the season. One of the best pure pass rushers in the conference.

10. Greg Gaines So. DT Washington - One of the toughest players in the Pac-12 is a fire hydrant of a disruptive defensive tackle. Has a lot of brute strength, hustle and tenacity.

11. Hercules Mata'afa So. DE Washington State - Exploded as a freshman for seven sacks. A freshman All-American who had 11 tackles for-loss.

12. Derek McCartney Jr. DE Colorado - Buff standouts go unnoticed a lot of the time, but McCartney shouldn't. He is turning into one of the conference's best defensive linemen.