First Guessing OSU’s 2018 Game One Two-Deep: Defense

Urban Meyer Ohio State Football Team


Earlier in the day, I took a first guess at Ohio State’s two-deep on offense, which means it is now time to give the same kind of guessory to the defensive side of the ball.

The Buckeyes will be losing at least five defensive linemen, possibly two linebackers, a cornerback, and a pair of safeties, so this two-deep is going to be about as accurate as a 30-day forecast. Still, I’m just giving you what my dopplers and models are predicting.

Ohio State is 243 days away from their 2018 season opener at home against Oregon State. Me telling you right now what the defensive two-deep is going to look like before any departures or spring football or fall camp is an exercise in humility. But at least it gives us something to think about.

Defensive End
97 Nick Bosa
18 Jonathon Cooper

I don’t know if Ohio State will have a four-man rotation at defensive end next season, but Nick Bosa and Jonathon Cooper will definitely be part of a three-man rotation. Cooper hasn’t gotten a lot of snaps in his first two seasons, but few defensive ends could step in and force Larry Johnson to find room for him in a room full of monsters. Expectations are very high for these two in 2018.

Nose Tackle
67 Rob Landers
53 Davon Hamilton

Rob Landers was the No. 2 nose tackle this year behind Tracy Sprinkle, so he’ll be fine as part of a rotation with Davon Hamilton and anybody else Larry Johnson puts in here. There are a bunch of defensive tackles who will fight for playing time, but only the best will see the field. Will junior college transfer Antwuan Jackson make his way into the two-deep?

Defensive Tackle
86 Dre’Mont Jones
9 Jashon Cornell

So here’s the first NFL prediction among the defensive guys, as I am going against my better judgment and predicting that Dre’Mont Jones is returning. Haskell Garrett told me he thinks Jones is coming back, so if I’m wrong here we’ll all blame Garrett. Speaking of Garrett, you’ll also see him and Malik Barrow here, and maybe freshmen Taron Vincent or Tommy Togiai. Like I said, there are a bunch of names, which is another reason why I am suggesting that maybe Dre’Mont Jones moves to defensive end in 2018.

Defensive End
2 Chase Young
FR Tyreke Smith

And here you see why moving Dre’Mont Jones outside isn’t a bad idea. John Simon managed to do it seamlessly and productively. Tyreke Smith should be a Buckeye and he’ll eventually be very good, but if Larry Johnson wants to continue with a four-man rotation at defensive end, maybe Jones would be a better addition to that group than a true freshman.

Sam Linebacker
39 Malik Harrison
33 Dante Booker

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Dante Booker maybe move to a hybrid defensive end spot, but if he doesn’t, I think Malik Harrison continues his rise and moves past Booker completely in this competition. Pete Werner could also be in the mix here.

Mike Linebacker
32 Tuf Borland
47 Justin Hilliard

Tuf Borland seems like he has found his spot in the Ohio State defense, and now the rest of the linebacker parts move around him. The goal will be to find the three best linebackers and find their best fits. For Borland, that’s in the middle. Now he just has to remain one of the top three linebackers.

Will Linebacker
5 Baron Browning
16 Keandre Jones

As you can see, I am expecting Jerome Baker to leave for the NFL. No worries, however, as expectations are very, very high for Baron Browning, who can play any linebacker spot the Buckeyes would need him to play. Keandre Jones can do the same, and as a rising junior, he is going to fight like heck to finally break into the starting lineup — or at least some kind of rotation. And don’t count out a rotation at any of these spots. Malik Harrison and Dante Booker rotated throughout the season, and Chris Worley and Tuf Borland did it a bit as well.

8 Kendall Sheffield
29 Jeff Okudah

The Cotton Bowl was a preview of the cornerback situation to come. Kendall Sheffield and Jeff Okudah will be two parts of the rotation in 2018, and Kerry Coombs would happily add a couple more.

14 Isaiah Pryor
21 Marcus Williamson

Isaiah Pryor backed up Damon Webb this past season and is ready to strike out on his own as a rising sophomore. Putting Marcus Williamson here is a projection based on the need for this position to be able to cover the slot. Williamson could very likely stay at corner and work his way into the two-deep.

4 Jordan Fuller
FR Josh Proctor

Jordan Fuller had a very good year as a first-year starter as Ohio State’s deep safety, and he should be even better in year two. Urban Meyer loves Josh Proctor’s potential, and his skill set is tailor-made for this spot.

3 Damon Arnette
24 Shaun Wade

Shaun Wade gets the nod here, but this could very easily be Amir Riep or Marcus Williamson, and could be all three. A freshman like Tyreke Johnson or Sevyn Banks could also get involved. Kerry Coombs has a number of options, they’re just young.

Kick Return
30 Demario McCall
26 Antonio Williams

It is time to unleash the full capabilities of Demario McCall.

Punt Return
30 Demario McCall
14 K.J. Hill

It is time to unleash the full capabilities of Demario McCall.


3 Responses

  1. McCollum reminds me of a throwback to the days when small backs like Greg Pruitt and Archie Griffin were the rule rather than the exception.

    Also, will Booker be the next Curtis Grant and finally blossom his senior year. My memory is fading, but wasn’t there talk about him moving to the DE position for his senior year just to let him apply a good D rush.

  2. It will sure be good to see McCall back in action this fall. He has talents that can break a game open and in the case of punt returns . . .keep the game from falling apart.

  3. I think based on his comments Dremont is gone. Booker may depart as well

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