Ohio State Spring Recap: The Defensive Ends are Just the Beginning

Nick Bosa and Jamarco Jones

The Buckeyes returned every one of their defensive ends from last season, which obviously includes all four “starters” in Tyquan Lewis, Sam Hubbard, Jalyn Holmes, and Nick Bosa. More names are looking to be added to that rotation, which made this spring a very important one for guys like Jonathon Cooper and Rashod Berry.

Depth Chart

6 Sam Hubbard, rJr (6-5 266) OR
11 Jalyn Holmes, Sr (6-5 274)
13 Rashod Berry, rSoph (6-4 252)
42 Darius Slade, rJr (6-4 258)

Defensive End
59 Tyquan Lewis, rSr (6-4 266) OR
97 Nick Bosa, Soph (6-4 265)
18 Jonathon Cooper, Soph (6-3 248)

The Buckeyes returned three defensive ends — Tyquan Lewis, Sam Hubbard, and Jalyn Holmes — who would have been drafted had they chosen to leave early. That might be an Ohio State record.

“Man, we’ve got four defensive ends that could start anywhere in the country. It’s a battle every play. You’ve got Sam, Tyquan, Nick, they’re all just rotating in and they’re fresh, which is really great for me and Isaiah (Prince) because we’ve got four defensive ends that could start anywhere in the country and could go in the first round in the draft next year, all four of them. If we can block these guys I think we can block anybody.” — Left tackle Jamarco Jones

The defensive ends are talking openly about wanting to be the best defensive line in Ohio State history this year, and they believe they are putting in the work to get that done. Larry Johnson isn’t trying to talk them down from it either.

You can probably go ahead and promote any of the four starters for various defensive line awards. Tyquan Lewis is already the reigning Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year. To be honest, they might need the promotion because the rotation might limit their statistics a bit.

It’s hard to see a need for a scapegoat here, as things are expected to be very, very good. Some could point to a dip in coverage as a reason for the quarterback getting the ball off this year, but Larry Johnson believes that any pass that is completed is completed because his defensive line failed to stop it.

I don’t know. Does a post-sack shrug count as showboating?

Toteable (Which player would do best with the football in his hands?)
The easy pick here is Sam Hubbard since he was actually an Ohio State tight end for a couple of weeks in the summer a while back. His lacrosse abilities would come through very well, but I would be concerned that he might revert to his old dodgeball days and either avoid a thrown pass, or catch a pass and then taunt the quarterback who threw it to him, yelling, “I caught it! You’re out!!” And then he would throw the ball at a defensive lineman, turning the ball over. Rashod Berry would be a good one here too because of his background as a tight end. Ultimately, however, I’m going to have to go with Jonathon Cooper because I’ve seen him play wide receiver in high school and he wasn’t too shabby.

“Hrrmmm. The deepest group of defensive ends in the nation and they only got deeper this spring the Buckeyes have. To find spots in the rotation if more guys earn it the difficult part for Larry Johnson will be. Enough snaps in a game for all of this talent will there be?”

I’m not sure any team in the country can match Ohio State’s depth at defensive end. And it’s not just depth, it’s productive depth. There is no drop off when one comes in and one goes out. The only question is if that number can grow to be more than four this year.

Demotable (Who needs to watch out for the incoming freshmen?)
Chase Young is the only defensive end that Ohio State signed in the 2017 class, but he’s a good one. He’s so good, in fact, that everybody not named Lewis, Hubbard, Holmes, or Bosa should pay close attention because he’s coming to take their reps. Can he do it? We’ll see, but it’s not going to be easy. Jonathon Cooper was once a 5-star signee himself and he had a very good spring when healthy. Rashod Berry is a tremendous athlete who is still coming into his own as a pass rusher, but making very good strides. Darius Slade needs to stay healthy, which has proven to be difficult for him to do.

Doteable (Which youngster should be doted on?)
Jonathon Cooper played as a true freshman last season, but didn’t play much. Larry Johnson said they need to get him more practice reps, but they haven’t been able to get him as many as they’d like. He was held back at times by a hamstring this spring, so he’ll have to make up the work over the summer. He’ll have some ups and downs, but once he has the kind of volume of experience he needs, expect a bit of a switch to be flipped.

Odeable (What kind of song would be sung about this position?)
I could see a song being written about the Rushmen, and then maybe a response written by Dre’Mont Jones about people taking his third-down reps and not actually getting to the quarterback.

Hauteable (What’s fashionable?)
Rotations are totally in this year. It’s not for everybody, though. Think skinny jeans on plumbers. In other words, you’ve got to be able to pull it off, and the Buckeyes certainly can.

All four of Ohio State’s starting defensive ends will earn some type of All-B1G recognition. Last year, Nick Bosa was the only one of the four to not earn at least Honorable Mention status. That will all change this season.

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