Since the arrival of Urban Meyer, the Ohio State Buckeyes have posted a record of 61-6 with a national championship in the 2014 season. In 15 seasons as a head coach at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and Ohio State, Meyer has 165 wins and only 29 losses. Love him, or hate him, Meyer is one of the very best college football coaches and he is an outstanding recruiter which mostly means he is likely to stay on top.
Urban Meyer says the strength of his 2017 football team is it’s Defensive Line and there’s no reason to doubt him.
Football is still won and lost in the trenches. If you don’t believe that just check out the Offensive and Defensive Lines at Clemson and Alabama, the two teams that battled it out the last two years for supremacy. Both teams are excellent across the board on both sides of the ball.
Ohio State still has some work to do on it’s Offensive Line, but they return 4 out of 5 starters and it
will get done.
On Defense, it’s already done.
The Defensive Line is so good that Joey Bosa’s younger brother, Nick, who was supposedly better than Joey coming in, is not even a starter. Nick Bosa does play, and he plays a lot, but he doesn’t start right now.
Fifth year senior, Michael Hill is back at the Nose Guard/Defensive Tackle position and he is a leader there. The 6-3, 305 Hill missed some playing time last year because of injury, but he will definitely be a force up front this season.
Even though Hill is back, I really like his back up Robert Landers. He’s a bit undersized at 6-1, 285, but he brings it on every play and he has a knack for getting in opponents’ backfield. Last season, Landers had 7 and a half tackles for loss and a Quarterback sack in limited playing time. Landers is a fun player to watch.
Davon Hamilton is a young 6-5, 300 guy that played some in every game and he could challenge for more playing time this year as a sophomore. Hamilton is another future starter and even possibly an NFL star.
There’s also Dylan Thompson who has had his career slowed by injuries. Right now, he provides depth when healthy.
At the other Tackle position the Buckeyes have Dre’Mont Jones who was sensational as a freshman last year after Tracy Sprinkle was injured. Sprinkle who missed all of last season is back, and they are both 6-3, 295 and hungry for more.
Jashon Cornell was a hotly recruited Defensive End that is now 6-3, 280 and he has moved inside to tackle. Malik Barrow was a true freshman last year that redshirted. He’s about 6-2, 290 and originally from Tampa, Florida. This group of Tackles is solid from top to bottom and will be
formidable no matter which one is on the field this Fall.
In the 2017 recruiting class the Buckeyes signed Defensive Tackles Haskell Garrett and Jerron Cage. Garrett was ESPN’s 7th rated Defensive Tackle in the country and a 4 star prospect. Garrett is listed at 6-2, 290 and another great prospect from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman High School. Cage is another 4 star prospect, but out of Cincinnati and the 11th rated Tackle. The Buckeyes should have the luxury of redshirting if necessary because obviously they are deep and talented at the two Defensive Tackle positions.
As good as the Tackles are, the Defensive Ends are even better.
Tyquon Lewis led team in sacks the past two seasons and he was the Big 10 Defensive Lineman of the year in 2016. The 6-4, 270 Lewis returned for his senior season with high hopes and goals. One would have thought a Bosa or a Sam Hubbard would have been the sack leader, but it was Lewis the past two seasons. The guy can play a little bit.
Nick Bosa was supposed to be better than Joey coming out of high school according to some, and he might be, but he isn’t supposed to start in 2017. Although he may not start, don’t expect Bosa to be on the sidelines all that much. Bosa is 6-4, 270 with astounding quickness and strength. He had 5 Quarterback sacks as a true freshman and 7 tackles for loss. Bosa will line up anywhere along the Defensive Line in passing situations including inside over a Guard or the Center. He is not only really quick, but he has super strength as well.
Providing quality depth is junior Darrius Slade, who is a 6-4, 255 veteran from Montclair, New Jersey.
The other side is just as loaded with Sam Hubbard, Jalyn Holmes, Rashod Berry and Jonathan Cooper. Then, there is hotshot true freshman Chase Young coming in and adding to the depth.
Sam Hubbard’s story is well known. Moeller
Hubbard played football and lacrosse at the famous Cincinnati Moeller High School and was probably going to Notre Dame to play lacrosse until Urban Meyer stepped in. Hubbard is now going into his junior season and the former Defensive Back that is 6-5, 265 continues to pressure Quarterbacks and to make plays. I have little doubt that Hubbard leaves after the 2017 season and he’s another Buckeye in the NFL.
Jalyn Holmes, Hubbard, Lewis and Bosa are interchangeable. The 6-5, 276 Holmes, from Norfolk, Virginia is going into his senior season and this is his chance to gain attention from the NFL. Holmes has to be one of the better back up Defensive Ends and he plays about as much as any of the starters. He was credited with 8.5 tackles for loss last season and 2 Quarterback sacks. Holmes is really quick and a talented pass rusher and he has a dynamic personality. He really should get a job in the NFL in 2018.
Coming in as a 235 pound Defensive End, Rashod Berry is up to 260 pounds and he is ready to rumble. As a true freshman, Berry played in most of the games and came up with 7 tackles. With Hubbard and Holmes ahead of him, Berry probably doesn’t play that much in 2017, but he should battle it out for the starting job in 2018.
Jonathan Cooper came in last season as a true freshman and he played in a few games. Exceptionally quick, the 6-3, 250 Cooper should become an elite pass rusher over the next couple of seasons.
In the latest Ohio State recruiting class of 2017, the Buckeyes signed some incredible talent such as the 3rd ranked Defensive End Chase Young. Listed at about 6-5, 230, the 4 star Young could be ready to play on day one.
The Buckeyes won the national title in 2014, but they haven’t been able to win the Big 10 since then. Michigan State won it in 2015 and Penn State won it in 2016. That, and losing to Clemson in the playoffs 0-31 has got to sting these guys and 2017 could be the year that they make up for it.
They certainly have the talent along the defensive front to do something this season.