Ohio State Spring Football Preview: Defensive Ends

Ohio State Spring Football Preview: Defensive Ends

BuckeyeWire

Ohio State Spring Football Preview: Defensive Ends


Spring practice has started in Columbus, and we are continuing our preview look at each position group at Ohio State. It’s time to look at where the Buckeye defense really excels — at defensive end.


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2018 Spring Preview Sections

Spring Overview | The Quarterbacks | The Running Backs | Offensive Tackle | Center | Tight End | H-Back | If Tate Martell Is The QB | If Joe Burrow Is The QB | If Dwayne Haskins Is The QB

Ohio State Spring Football Preview: Defensive End

While Ohio State is best known for its explosive offenses, it also can win games with its defense. Since Urban Meyer took the reins in 2012, the Buckeyes have finished in the top ten nationally in sacks four times, including last year, when it finished third.

There’s no way to post numbers like that without an outstanding pass rush, especially at the defensive end position. Will OSU continue to get this type of production from its outside rushers? I’ll discuss that into today’s position preview.

Key Losses

Tyquan Lewis

A two-time team captain, Lewis was arguably the most consistent performer on the Buckeye defense over the last three seasons. During that span, he recorded 23.5 sacks, leading the team in that category in 2015 and 2016. Not surprisingly, Lewis earned first-team All-Big Ten honors in both 2016 and 2017. He’ll be a first round pick in the 2018 NFL draft.

Sam Hubbard

A mainstay at defensive end, Hubbard played 40 games for the Buckeyes, starting 22. In three seasons, he recorded 17 sacks and 29.5 tackles for a loss. He was especially impressive over the final few games of his career, registering 2.5 sacks against TTUN and 2.5 sacks versus USC in the Cotton Bowl. Like Lewis, he will play in the NFL next year.

Returning Talent

Nick Bosa

Although Hubbard and Lewis both played extremely well last season, Bosa is the most gifted defensive end on the team. He was certainly the most disruptive player on the Buckeye D, leading the team in both sacks (8.5) and tackles for a loss (16). He stepped up his level of play against top competition, posting 4 sacks and 6.5 TFL versus ranked opponents. Expect him to earn All-American honors again this season.

Chase Young

With players like Lewis, Hubbard, and Bosa in the lineup, it’s easy to overlook the amount of talent that Ohio State has at the defensive end position. Young is a prime example of that. Even though he didn’t get as much playing time as he would have liked, Young made the most of his opportunities, posting 1.5 sacks versus Michigan State and recording another one in the Cotton Bowl. After adding 15 pounds in the offseason, he should be even tougher for opposing offenses to block in 2018. He could be the No. 1 breakout star on defense in 2018.

Jonathon Cooper

Cooper is the only other scholarship player that played defensive end last season. He did a great job harassing Illinois quarterbacks last year, recording two sacks in a lopsided victory. Look for that trend to continue this fall as he receives more playing time and don’t be surprised if he starts opposite Bosa when the season starts.

Jashon Cornell

After playing defensive tackle for most of his Ohio State career, Cornell moves back to defensive end, where he was one of the top prospects in the country in 2015. He’ll give the Buckeyes a veteran presence at one of its thinnest positions (for the moment, anyway) and should be a regular in a four man rotation this fall.

Incoming class

Tyreke Smith

A lot of football experts think that Smith is good enough to see significant playing time for the Buckeyes this fall. He was one of the top high school players in the nation last year, earning a spot in the Under Armour All-America game. At 6-3, 260 lbs., he has the size and speed to cause all sorts of matchup problems for opposing offensive tackles. Don’t be surprised if there’s a bit of a wrinkle, and he the coaches at least think about him on offense as a tight. He caught eight passes for 192 yards and four touchdowns in 2017.

Alex Williams

Don’t sleep on Williams as a key contributor for OSU this fall. He made a living in opponents’ backfields last year in high school, recording 13.5 TFL and four quarterback sacks. With his size (6-7, 250 lbs.) and athleticism, there’s no reason to think that he won’t contribute to the Buckeyes in some capacity this season.

Predicting the Pecking Order

This is how I see things shaking at the moment. Since the Buckeyes rotate people in an out, the top four players are starters for all intents and purposes. It’ll be interesting to see if Ohio State tries out another player or two at this position in attempt to add some depth.

1. Nick Bosa
2. Chase Young
3. Jashon Cornell
4. Jonathon Cooper
5. Tyreke Smith*
6. Alex Williams*

* Freshman

 

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