The No. 8 player on this list came to Ohio State as a 5-star prospect and played in every game last season as a sophomore reserve at defensive end.
No. 8 Jonathon Cooper, Jr. Defensive End
Jonathon Cooper was one of two 5-star defensive ends signed by the Buckeyes in the 2016 class, joining Nick Bosa, who may appear on this list later on.
Cooper has yet to start a game for the Buckeyes, but played quite a bit in many of the Ohio State blowouts a year ago. He finished with 15 tackles, 3.0 tackles for loss, and 2.0 sacks. Both of his sacks came against Illinois last year.
Cooper wasn’t able to break into the defensive end rotation in either of his first two seasons, but that’s understandable given the amount of talent playing the position.
This year, however, that is about to change as he is expected to be one of the three or four defensive ends regularly rotating in and out of the lineup for the Buckeyes.
What He Does Well
Cooper (6-4 257) is a pass rusher with speed who provides a difficult athletic matchup for opposing offensive tackles. He also played wide receiver in high school, which should give you an idea of some of the speed and burst that he brings to the position.
Cooper has been waiting for this opportunity, but he has also been preparing for it. When he arrived at Ohio State, he was known as a speed rusher. In his preparation for 2018, he has worked to become a more complete player. Still, the Buckeyes want him to show that rapid attack on quarterbacks this season.
With Chase Young or Nick Bosa on the other side, Cooper may sneak in under the radar. If he is as adept at getting to the quarterback as his teammates expect him to be, however, then the focus on the Ohio State defensive ends is going to have to be spread evenly over the entire lot.
Jonathon Cooper in 2018
Will Bosa or Young chase quarterbacks into Cooper’s arms, or will he chase them into their arms? Either way, consider the play made.
Cooper’s job won’t just be to rush the passer, however. Expect him to do some things that Sam Hubbard did last year, like dropping in coverage, or being able to stretch wide plays all the way to the sideline. His speed and pursuit will add length to the Ohio State defense.
Chase Young expects himself, Bosa, and Cooper to all finish with at least eight sacks this season.
Ohio State hasn’t had more than one defensive end with eight or more sacks since Rodney Bailey and Brent Johnson did it in 2000, so to expect three of them to do it is probably unrealistic.
Still, expectations for Cooper have been high since his arrival, and now he is finally going to get a chance to show everyone what they’ve been waiting to see.
What They Are Saying
“It’s definitely his year. He’s a great player and people tend to overlook him a little bit, but he’s going to be a super big part of our D-line this year.” — Nick Bosa
“I think Jonathon Cooper brings a lot to the plate. I’m really pleased with where he’s at right now. He’s gotten a chance to get on the field and play special teams, but he’s got a chance to make an impact at the defensive end position. He’s had a really great winter. Did a great job in the weight room. Gotten stronger. Gotten bigger. And this is his moment right now, it really is. He’s doing everything he can to make sure he grabs it.” — Larry Johnson
“Coop, he’s on me and Nick’s level. He’s a gold guy. Coop goes hard on every play. His motor speaks for itself. Coop is good.” — Chase Young