[This is the 15th installment in our annual series where The-Ozone looks back on each member of the previous season’s freshman class and the impact they had as rookies, as well as the impact they could have during the upcoming season. Up next is defensive end Cade Stover.]
Cade Stover was Mr. Football in Ohio following a senior season in 2018 where he posted 163 tackles, four interceptions, 1,477 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns.
As a sophomore, he racked up 190 tackles (14.6/game), and was also a First-Team All-State pick as a junior. Stover was also Second-Team All-State in basketball as a junior and senior.
Understandably, he was one of the top Ohioans in the 2019 class. Ranked the No. 4 player in the state, Stover signed with the Buckeyes as the No. 7 outside linebacker in the class and the No. 114 player overall. He also had offers from Oklahoma, Michigan, Penn State, Notre Dame, Texas, and others.
A year ago, Stover also provided Ryan Day with some unique experiences prior to his first year as Ohio State’s head coach.
“One story that I share sometimes is Saturday when we were in New York City [at the Heisman ceremony for Dwayne Haskins], we were down in Times Square and there were people everywhere, thousands and thousands of people, and we were in the busiest place in all of the world, and the next morning we drove up to see Cade Stover and his family and I was on his farm with not a person to be seen taking a picture with his pet pig Ronnie, and it was like the most extreme — New York City and then up on the farm taking a picture with a pig. That’s been kind of my last two weeks.”
Stover redshirted in 2019, but did get to play in his allotted four games. He finished with two tackles.
Late in the season, he moved from linebacker to defensive end.
“Well, he’s got the length that we’re looking for,” defensive line coach Larry Johnson said back in December. “He’s got the linebacker instincts. But he walked in with open mind and we talked. It was a gradual process. We talked about it. I know we spent some time teaching him some pass rush moves, and then he says, ‘Coach, I think I can do this.’ So I think it’s just a matter of transition, to be honest, to get his hands on the ground. He’s getting more comfortable every day.
“I think the summer, and spring football, I think you’re going to see a big change. I can see a difference already in just a little bit of time of working with him.”
Now What For Cade Stover
Cade Stover is still growing into his frame, which is happening thanks to Ohio State strength coach Mickey Marotti.
“Yeah, he’s six foot four, whatever, he’s 225 pounds when he gets here, you know, and you can just see his bones and he’s probably going to get big,” Marotti said last month. “You never say they can’t until… you just let the season play out. You know, just see what happens.”
The Buckeyes will be looking for playmakers at defensive end this spring and even though they have a number of candidates, a couple of those options have had trouble staying healthy. If that happens again in 2020, Stover could work his way into the lineup and perhaps never come out.
Larry Johnson will try to get Stover safe reps this season as he continues to master the position. Even though Chase Young is off to the NFL, there will still be five defensive ends on the roster with starting experience. That’s going to be tough for Stover to bypass this year. He’s also going to have competition from classmate Noah Potter and the incoming freshmen as well.
Despite the loaded depth chart, Stover’s size, determination, and athleticism should eventually find him a role on this team.