The No. 8 player on this list is embarking on his second year as a starter for the Buckeyes and is looking to close out his career with his very best season at Ohio State.
No. 8 — Jonathon Cooper, Senior Defensive End
Jonathon Cooper came to Ohio State as the No. 3 weakside defensive end in the 2016 recruiting class and the No. 33 player overall.
Prior to his senior season in high school, Cooper went on the camp and combine circuit and wowed everyone with his speed and quickness in beating offensive linemen in one-on-one situations.
Football is much different than combines, of course, and Cooper’s production to this point hasn’t lived up his placement in the recruiting world.
And yet, it was Cooper who was starting alongside Nick Bosa last season. Sure, Cooper, Bosa, and Chase Young all rotated, but it was Cooper who started in every game he played last season.
What He Does Well
Cooper has defensive line coach Larry Johnson’s complete trust, so he obviously does his entire job well.
What he also does well is show up in big games.
Cooper had 25 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks last year. His totals against Penn State, Michigan, and Washington were nine tackles, four tackles for loss, and one sack.
The Buckeye defensive ends were thrown for a loop last year because so much of the Ohio State defense was schemed around Nick Bosa. Losing him wasn’t just bad because Bosa was gone but also because the defense was now missing a key ingredient.
Basically, if last year’s individual parts of the Buckeye defense were ingredients for a cake, Bosa was the eggs, which is one reason why the defense never rose even close to its potential last year.
Jonathon Cooper in 2019
Jonathon Cooper has heard the remarks about his lack of production and he is well aware that he has just 5.5 career sacks over his first three years.
In talking to him this spring, he is clearly looking forward to having his best season as a Buckeye.
Because the depth at defensive end is better this season than it was in 2018, Cooper’s snaps may go down, but his production should go up.
On the high school camp circuit, Cooper was known for his explosive pass rushing skills. It has probably felt like a long time coming for him, but those skills should lead to some happier numbers this year.
Four years in, this is going to be the best version of Jonathon Cooper the Buckeyes have seen, and he is working to show people stuff they have never seen from him before.
What They Are Saying
“I don’t feel like disappointment is there. I would characterize it as I feel like my career isn’t finished. I’m not going to be the player that was highly-recruited, came in, and then had an okay season. I want to make sure that I fulfill my potential here at Ohio State and give it all I’ve got.” — Cooper on his career so far at Ohio State.
“I feel like I can study the game more. Get my football IQ higher and just know the game. Understand and make sure I know what’s going to happen on this play, or this play. Play faster and stronger and be confident. My major thing is confidence in myself and knowing that I can play at a level that I’m capable of.” — Cooper on how he plans to go from good to great this year.
“I would assess my career as a guy who came in and worked hard. Seeing the field a couple of times, then as a first-year starter last year getting used to how starters play. Now I feel like I’m a guy who’s a veteran and has been here and needs to get the job done more.” — Cooper reflecting on his first three years at Ohio State.