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tBBC Pre-Spring Outlook: Defensive Line

Discussion in 'News' started by Brandon Zimmerman, Feb 26, 2016.

  1. Pre-Spring Outlook: Defensive Line
    Brandon Zimmerman
    via our good friends at Buckeye Battle Cry
    Visit their fantastic blog and read the full article (and so much more) here

    With the recruits signed, sealed, and almost delivered it is officially time to look forward to the 2016 football season. While the Buckeyes are already getting ready behind the scenes, things do not start to jump into another gear until the Buckeyes begin their spring practice on March 8th. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be taking a look at each positional group for the Buckeyes and discussing who might start and how the depth chart may shake up. Today, we take a look at the positional group which will make or break the Silver Bullets this year…the defensive line. Coach Larry Johnson has an absurd amount of talent on this line but most of it is unproven. Guys like sophomore Sam Hubbard will have to step-up into the starting role and contribute right away to get pressure on the quarterback and prevent teams from picking apart the five new starters behind them. This positional group is young and does not include any seniors.


    The lone returning starter on the defensive line is junior Tyquan Lewis. In his first year as starter, Lewis was in the shadow of numerous future first round draft picks but as quietly as possible put up a dominating season. Many would be shocked to read his stat line and wonder why he did not get as much praise after seeing he wound up with 54 tackles, 14 tackles-for-loss, and 8 sacks. As a comparison, soon to be top-5 picks Joey Bosa finished

    Lewis proved last year he is a force.

    with 51 tackles, 16 tackles-for-loss, and 5 sacks. Now the real question comes whether Lewis can maintain that performance level without Bosa starting opposite of him. Coming out of high school in North Carolina, Lewis was a four-star recruit.

    Fellow junior Jaylon Holmes is one of a handful of players who will be looking to crack the starting lineup at defensive end. Holmes was in a stiff battle with the aforementioned Hubbard last year to start opposite Lewis when Bosa was suspended but ultimately lost out. Holmes would spend the year backing up Lewis. Holmes finished the year with 11 tackles, 1.5 tackles-for-loss, 1 sack, and 1 forced fumble. He was a consensus four-star defensive end out of Virginia.

    The last three juniors on the roster are both vying for playing time at the two vacant defensive tackle positions. The first, Michael Hill is someone who gained more and more playing time last year as the season went on and constantly proved he should be starting. For the season, he finished with 12 tackles and 0.5 tackles-for-loss. Hill was another consensus four-star recruit and played his high school football in South Carolina.

    Another junior vying for a defensive tackle spot is Donovan Munger who was actually listed as the starter in place of Adolphus Washington for the Fiesta Bowl. Munger is the big body the Buckeyes have been looking for to control the line of scrimmage and has made his presence known over the last two seasons when he gets his chance. Last year as a back-up, Munger finished the season with no official stats. Munger was a consensus four-star recruit out of Ohio.

    The last junior competing for the defensive tackle position is 6’3” 290 pounder Tracy Sprinkle from Elyra, Ohio. Sprinkle played sparingly as a back-up last season and finished the year with 4 tackles and 1 fumble recovery. Many have Sprinkle pegged as the guy to really step up and have a great year at defensive tackle.

    Three sophomores are on the roster and they will all be throwing their hats into the ring

    Sam Hubbard and Tyquan Lewis hope to meet in the backfield a lot in 2016.

    for the vacant defensive end position. The first is the favorite and my personal favorite player on the defensive line, Sam Hubbard. Hubbard came to Ohio State from Cincinnati as a safety/linebacker prospect rated by some recruiting agencies as a five-star recruit. The former lacrosse player has bounced around the Buckeyes depth chart playing linebacker, tight end, and safety but had settled in at defensive end where he backed up Bosa. Hubbard finished last year with 28 tackles, 8 tackles-for-loss, 6.5 sacks, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble, and 2 fumble recoveries. He is poised to have a huge year.

    Two more sophomores are hoping to not get lost in the shuffle as the Buckeyes continue to bring more and more talent in at the defensive end position. Former three-star recruit Darius Slade came to Columbus by way of New Jersey where the Buckeyes were in love with his athleticism. While Slade did not show up in the stat sheet as a freshman, you will be sure to hear his name in 2016 even if it is from a back-up position. The last sophomore looking for playing time is Dylan Thompson out of Illinois. Thompson was a three-star recruit and will be looking at a make or break year for his position within the Buckeyes defensive line rotation. With so much talent around, he needs to make his claim on his spot this spring.

    There are eight redshirt and true freshmen looking to make a name for themselves this year. The first is redshirt freshman Jashon Cornell who was a consensus four-star recruit out of Minnesota and ranked as the number 14 overall recruit by Rivals. With a full year under his belt, Cornell will make waves this year at either the defensive end position or even moving inside to the defensive tackle position.

    Another former consensus four-star lineman who could make waves at either position is redshirt freshman Dre’Mont Jones. Hailing from Cleveland, Jones has only been playing football for a few years but his athleticism is what sets him apart. As with Cornell, Jones has the size to slide inside and play the Washington role on the defensive line.

    Three redshirt freshmen will be looking to grab a starting position at defensive tackle this year. The first is Robert Landers who was rated as a four-star recruit by Scout from Dayton, Ohio. Landers is a bit of an under the radar player but I think he will make a huge impact down the road for Ohio State. He may not start this year but at some point he will be a major player on the line.

    Another defensive tackle prospect is Joshua Alabi out of Michigan. When you think of who you want to play defensive tackle you think of someone like Alabi who checked in a t 6’5” and 295 pounds as a true freshman. With one full year under the tutelage of the Ohio State strength staff, Alabi has the potential to be an absolute force on the defensive line. Alabi was a consensus three-star recruit.

    The last redshirt freshman vying for playing time is Davon Hamilton out of Pickerington, Ohio. As like Alabi, Hamilton was a consensus three-star recruit who has the body size to be a force. As a true freshman, Hamilton checked into Ohio State last year at 6’4” and 300 pounds.

    The true freshmen are coming into Columbus riding a lot of fanfare and all three have a possibility of making an immediate impact. The two most likely to play a lot this year are[​IMG] Nick Bosa and Jonathon Cooper. Bosa was the highest rated recruit to come to Columbus this year and was a consensus five-star recruit. It is painfully obvious Bosa will be a major star for the Buckeyes over the next three years. He is further along than his brother was at this time and has the body to compete at defensive end or defensive tackle.

    The other five-star defensive end is Cooper who is an early enrollee and already on campus. While Bosa was the name everyone knew from the start, Cooper was the one dominating the camp circuit. Every camp he went to, he left with tape of him annihilating the competition and a boost in the rankings. Both Cooper and Bosa will be looking to play [​IMG]a major role in maintaining the Silver Bullet standard.

    The last true freshman to come in is defensive tackle Malik Barrow. While the Cooper and Bosa hype may overshadow Barrow, he may have been a fellow five-star recruit if he hadn’t gotten hurt during the season. He was a force before tearing his ACL and kind of became a forgotten recruit after that. Burrow has the talent to excel at Ohio State but rehabbing from an injury will not help his cause for 2016 where he will probably redshirt.



    1. Tyquan Lewis
    2. Jaylin Holmes


    1. Nick Bosa
    2. Jashon Cornell


    1. Donovan Munger
    2. Michael Hill


    1. Sam Hubbard
    2. Jonathon Cooper

    There is so much talent on the defensive line it is hard to come up with where to play everyone. As you can see, I think they will move Bosa and Cornell inside to play the disruptor defensive tackle position as Washington did last year. Both of these guys have the build to put on some weight without losing too much of their speed. This allows the Buckeyes to keep Lewis, Hubbard, and Bosa on the field together but will potentially change against teams like Wisconsin who lineup five guys who average 350 pounds and run the ball.

    At the other defensive tackle position; I think right now Munger will pull out the job after a tough battle with Hill and Sprinkle. This is one of those positions where anyone can start but it all depends on who shines the most in the spring. It would not surprise me if a dark horse like Alabi or Landers came out with the job.

    With Lewis, Bosa, Munger, and Hubbard starting, this line will have the ability to hold up against the run and put an enormous amount of pressure on opposing quarterbacks.


    Quarterbacks – 15 Feb

    Running Backs – 17 Feb

    Wide Receivers – 19 Feb

    Tight Ends – 22 Feb

    Offensive Line – 24 Feb

    Defensive Line – Today

    Linebackers – 29 Feb

    Secondary – 2 Mar

    Special Teams – 4 Mar

    The post Pre-Spring Outlook: Defensive Line appeared first on The Buckeye Battle Cry: Ohio State News and Commentary.

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