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Looking Forward: Buckeye Defensive Line in 2017 and Beyond
By Ben van Ooyen

The Buckeye defensive line was a source of concern heading into the 2016 season with the loss of Joey Bosa and Adolphus Washington to the NFL. Looking back, however, the line seemed to hold their own all season long. Ohio State will return (as of this writing) every member of the defensive line that played in 2016. There might be some possible attrition out of the players who are already on the roster, but key contributors Sam Hubbard, Tyquan Lewis, Jalyn Holmes, Mike Hill, Dre’Mont Jones and Robert Landers will all be back next season.

The Buckeyes have commitments from three defensive linemen for the class of 2017. Chase Young highlights the commitments as he is a 5-star defensive end out of Maryland who was highly coveted by almost every major program in America. His decision came down to the Buckeyes and the Crimson Tide of Alabama, and the Buckeyes secured his commitment during the Friday Night Lights camp back in July. Young was arguably the best player on the field in the 2017 Army All-American Bowl. He became the third commitment behind the Bishop Gorman trend setter Haskell Garrett and Cincinnati’s Jerron Cage.

Garrett was a bit of a surprise commitment, as he never visited Columbus before making his decision known. He has since visited multiple times and has remained firm in his pledge. He has been joined by teammates Tyjon Lindsey and Tate Martell in this recruiting class. Cage remains a bit under the radar in this star-studded class, but he should not be overlooked at all. He is listed as a 4-star recruit and the No. 9 overall prospect from the state of Ohio. He has been on a few visits to Notre Dame since his commitment, but insists that there is nothing to see there even though his older brother is a part of the Fighting Irish.

Ohio State is still on the hunt for another defensive tackle, and remains in the mix for a couple of targets who have not made their decision yet. First up is Marvin Wilson, the 5-star defensive tackle out of Texas. Wilson visited the Buckeyes during the Michigan game back in November, and tweeted out that he didn’t want to leave because he was having so much fun. He is close friends with OSU commits -- and fellow Texans -- Baron Browning and Jeffrey Okudah, and both are probably doing their best to get him to Columbus. LSU has been the team to beat here, and I think that is where he ends up. Florida State has made a late push, and their class continues to get better with the late additions of 5-stars Joshua Kaindoh and former Buckeye target Cam Akers.

Jay Tufele is the next DT up for the Buckeyes if they are unable to land Wilson, and while it is still a long shot for Tufele to travel across the country to attend Ohio State, the chances are greater than they are for Wilson. Tufele hails from the state of Utah, which isn’t known for sending its athletes to the state of Ohio. Tufele was also on hand for the double overtime thriller against Michigan and that was followed up by a trip from Larry Johnson, who attended church with Tufele and his family. Tufele will make a couple of more official visits starting on January 20 with USC and then the following weekend at his home-state school of Utah. While there remains a chance that he picks the Buckeyes, I think he stays out west and becomes a Ute.

2017 Depth Chart

Commitments

Freshman

Sophomore

Junior

Senior

Chase Young

Jerron Cage

Haskell Garrett

Malik Barrow (RS)

Nick Bosa

Jonathon Cooper

Rashod Berry (RS)

Dre’Mont Jones (RS)

Jashon Cornell (RS)

Davon Hamilton (RS)

Joshua Alabi (RS)

Rob Landers (RS)

Darius Slade (RS)

Sam Hubbard (RS)

Dylan Thompson (RS)

Tyquan Lewis (RS)

Jalyn Holmes

Mike Hill (RS)

Tracy Sprinkle (RS)

 The Buckeyes do not hold a commitment from any one on the defensive line for the class of 2018, but they are in on almost every big name out there. Five-star defensive end Micah Parsons is one to watch for. While he is currently committed to Penn State he has visited Ohio State twice and recently released a top six that included Ohio State along with Penn State, USC, Michigan, Florida State and Georgia. We have seen quite a few kids commit to schools way early in the process only to change their minds, and Parsons could be another one of those type recruits.

IMG Academy down in Bradenton, Florida has sprung up recently as a hotbed for Ohio State recruiting. The Buckeyes were able to recruit Marcus Williamson and Isaiah Pryor from IMG in the class of 2017 and Tyler Gerald and Malik Barrow from the class of 2016. They will look to dip into the class of 2018 with star defensive tackle Taron Vincent. Vincent is a 5-star recruit ranked as the No. 1 defensive tackle prospect and the No. 1 overall prospect from the state of Florida. He currently is a heavy Buckeye lean and all crystal ball projections have him headed to Columbus when he makes his decision.

Another name to watch for is defensive tackle Matthew Jones out of New York. Jones comes from the same high school as Curtis Samuel and is very high on Ohio State. He could play on either side of the ball depending on where the Ohio State coaches see him fitting in best. Defensive tackle Aeneas Hawkins is the lone defensive lineman with an offer from the Buckeyes from the state of Ohio. Hawkins plays for Archbishop Moeller down in Cincinnati, which is notorious for sending kids to Notre Dame. The Irish are high on his list as well as Florida State.

Expect the Buckeyes to try and sign three or four defensive linemen in the 2018 class to fill the voids left by Tyquan Lewis, Jalyn Holmes, Mike Hill, Tracy Sprinkle, and likely Sam Hubbard.

2018 Depth Chart

Commitments

Freshman

Sophomore

Junior

Senior

 

Jerron Cage (RS?)

Haskell Garrett (RS?)

Chase Young

Malik Barrow (RS)

Nick Bosa

Jonathon Cooper

Rashod Berry (RS)

Dre’Mont Jones (RS)

Jashon Cornell (RS)

Davon Hamilton (RS)

Joshua Alabi (RS)

Rob Landers (RS)

Sam Hubbard (RS)

Darius Slade (RS)

Dylan Thompson (RS)

 Looking ahead to 2019 recruiting, the Buckeyes have early offers out to Stephen Herron Jr. out of Kentucky, Antonio Alfano out of New Jersey, and Jowon Briggs out of Cincinnati, Ohio. Herron is ranked as the early No. 1 prospect out of the state of Kentucky, and the second-ranked defensive end in the country. He only lists six offers to date, but his recruitment will heat up once his junior season starts. Alfano has nine offers to date and is ranked as the No. 2 prospect out of New Jersey. He is a heavy Penn State lean having visited Happy Valley quite a few times over the past season. Jowon Briggs out of Cincinnati is currently unranked, but the Buckeyes as well as the Wisconsin Badgers and Michigan Wolverines have identified something in him early to warrant offers.

The Buckeyes will likely lose Nick Bosa to the draft after his third season, as well as possibly Dre’Mont Jones if he continues to progress into an elite defensive tackle. Ohio State will continue to search for that elusive defensive tackle that can stuff the middle like a Dan “Big Daddy” Wilkinson did back in the 90’s. With Larry Johnson and Greg Schiano at the helm of the defense, the Buckeyes will continue to bring in and develop high-caliber defensive linemen.

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