How Will Ohio State Football Replace… Sam Hubbard

Jonathon Cooper and Chase Young Ohio State Football Buckeyes


The Buckeyes will have to replace 12 starters from the 2017 football team, and today begins a series on how Ohio State will go about replacing each of those valuable pieces. Up first is defensive end Sam Hubbard, who opted to forgo his final year of eligibility in order to enter the 2018 NFL Draft.

Hubbard finished seventh on the team in tackles (42) this past season, and second in sacks (7.0) and tackles for loss (13.5). He has been in the defensive end rotation since the 2015 season opener when he started as a redshirt freshman in place of a suspended Joey Bosa. Hubbard finished with 6.5 sacks that season, while Bosa managed just 5.0.

Hubbard finished his career with 17 sacks and 29.5 tackles for loss while sharing reps every single year of his career. His 17 sacks are good for 15th-most in OSU history, ahead of players like Cameron Heyward, Mike Kudla, Darrion Scott, and A.J. Hawk.

Not just a pass rusher, however, Hubbard was an athletic edge defender who could stretch plays out wide and was tremendous at recognition. In replacing him, the Buckeyes will need a player who is both smart and athletic, and tenacious in using both of those attributes.

The Candidates

Sam Hubbard played safety in high school, which gives you an idea of the athleticism that he brought to defensive end at Ohio State. Rising junior Jonathon Cooper spent time as a wide receiver in high school, and he wasn’t too shabby. In limited reps over his first two seasons as a Buckeye, Cooper has three sacks and four tackles for loss. He has always been known as a speed rusher, and he has the athleticism to cover screen plays like Hubbard did. Cooper will be part of the rotation at defensive end this coming season, but can he be as complete a defender as Hubbard was?

You don’t have to watch Chase Young long to know that he is going to be special. As a true freshman this past season, he finished with 6.0 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks in limited play. He spent his freshman season learning everything he could from Hubbard, who is the perfect example of what coaches want their players to be. Young may not be a former safety like Hubbard, or maybe he didn’t play receiver like Cooper, but when it comes to being an edge defender, he has every tool a player needs in order to succeed.

This is just speculation without any proof, but given the fact that there will only be three defensive ends on the roster this spring — barring a position move from Dre’Mont Jones — there is the possibility of a linebacker moving over, and Dante Booker might be a pretty good candidate. Booker, entering his fifth year, has exactly the athleticism required to rush the passer or drop into coverage or stretch a play out to the sideline. But will it happen?

Because of an abundance of linebackers, perhaps Malik Harrison could also be a possibility. I expect him to be a starting linebacker in 2018, however, but he certainly has the athleticism to play a number of different positions.

Spring Outlook

The Buckeyes won’t be adding any freshman defensive ends in the spring, which means that it will just be Chase Young and Jonathon Cooper playing alongside Nick Bosa. The number of linebackers vying for starting spots is one of the reasons why Dante Booker continues to seem like a possibility here. To this point, however, it is just empty speculation.

Best Bet

The best bet here is that Jonathon Cooper and Chase Young will step in and step up as expected. Together, they both have similarities to Hubbard in skill set and athleticism. Playing behind him for as long as they have was a great example and will make it easier for them to continue forward without him.


I expect Chase Young and Jonathon Cooper to be just fine as two parts of a three- or four-man rotation at defensive end in 2018. These are two very hungry players who are finally going to be involved in games while the decision is still in doubt. They will be called upon to win games. They should be ready for it, especially since they’ve seen how it is supposed to be done by watching Sam Hubbard do it for so long.


10 Responses

  1. I think Hubbard will be hard to replace because #1 he played hard every minute he was on the field and #2 its underated but I loved him on running plays outside.

    1. Agree, his ability to defend all the way to the sideline was special.

  2. Urban Meyer is sinking into a Jim Tresel good ole boy attitude of playing players he “likes” personally (those who go to the right church, etc) and those who put in their time at Ohio State and feel they are ENTITLED to playing time because they are seniors, etc. When running a football program there is only ONE RULE that allows to play….YOU MUST BE THE BEST PLAYER, PERIOD. No starting spots are earned, unless you have two players of equal talent then you might make the decision to play the guy wiht the best attitude and work ethic….Do you think Urban Meyer would have pulled JT Barrett in a bowl or championship game if he were playing like shit (which was more often than not) in place of a QB who can ACTUALLY throw the ball in Dwayne Haskins, like Nick Saban did in the Championship game? hell, no…..Get a backbone Urban….you are losing it…and also, you need to tell these goddam position coaches like Alford and Wilson how it is going to be, and who is going to play….JK Dobbins needs to be the FEATURE back….Weber, the michigan boy needs to play cleanup….GO BUCKS!

  3. Why all the mentions of Hubbard and teaching the young guys in this article and no love for Tyquan Lewis? As the Senior who could have turned pro last year, I’d have expected he’d be contributing more to the development of the young guns than Hubbard was.

    1. Because this was an article about Sam Hubbard and how Ohio State will replace him. Tyquan Lewis’s is coming.

      1. You know what GreeneWolfe, you need to go back to school and get your degree in coaching. You certainly can use some education in language! You aren’t the coach at OSU and I doubt you could accumulate the record Coach Meyer has made, but maybe you could be a coach somewhere else! Good luck! The only thing where I agree with you is not pulling J T when he was not doing well, especially at Iowa. That was a sad outcome and cost the Buckeyes a chance at the Final Four.

        1. Of for the love of God. WHAT in the world does being a coach have to do with seeing things that are absolutely obvious and pointing them out? GreeneWolf states his opinion from his own perspective. That’s what forums like this should entertain. Not the lovefest and bootlickers club in another Buckeye forum who somehow think downvoting a guy for a negative opinion somehow makes them a REAL Buckeye fan. Anyone who reads those types of forums comes away with the belief that those posters are clowns who think they’re the cool kids. You don’t have to be an astronaut to know when a rocket has blown up, or a mechanic’s advice when a tire goes flat.

          That’s the stuff that makes THIS particular forum interesting. People voice their opinion and don’t have to worry about some asshat crying to the moderators to kick out the mean old “fake fans” with a negative opinion. Frigging go to 11 Warriors where mindless drones just follow along like sheep.

          1. James Mills you nailed it again. State your opinion and objectively look at the situation…that’s how you get better at anything. I worry that Urban has lost his edge. Damn, just play the best players and try to destroy the opponent. At a place like OSU 8 wins are a given every year…maybe even 9. So forget those games and look at the 3 or 4 games that mean something. This past season, there isn’t a game that you should have looked at preseason and said OSU will lose that game for sure. OU was a top 5 team, but OSU was a top 5 team playing at home…I expect them to win these games more often than not. Iowa should have been a given win. PERIOD. Don’t look at the comeback vs. PSU, OSU should have won that game without all of the drama. Just objectively look at the 3 or 4 games that matter and see what the record is. Without doing any research, off the top of my head I’d say Meyer and Tressel probably won about 50-60% of those games, which is probably in line with most top coaches. Looking forward to next season. GO BUCKS!

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