Depth Chartin' 2012: Defensive Line

By Jason Priestas on January 6, 2012 at 1:30p
John Simon will destroy worlds -- if he returns for 2012Beast Mode personified

Though the Buckeyes will be prevented from taking part in the Big Ten Championship or a bowl game in 2012, there's still plenty to be bullish about heading into this fall. There's a new sheriff in town -- you might have heard of him -- and he's nothing, if not a consistent winner.

Today begins the first of a multi-part series previewing the depth chart and to kick things off, we'll look at the defensive line. The defensive line of the Silver Bullets was the highlight of supbar campaign from a defense that typically ranks as one of the nation's best.

Urban Meyer defenses start up front, and he'll have a good one for his first season in Columbus. If a couple of things break Ohio State's way, he could very well be looking at a group that will be returning every player that saw a meaningful snap on defense in 2011 (with all due respect to Solomon Thomas).

When you consider the recruiting class he's bringing in, there's reason to believe this line could not only be the best unit in the Big Ten, but it could be one of the nation's best, putting the group on par with some of the lines in the SEC.

Three members of the line, John Simon, Johnathan Hankins and Garrett Goebel, started all 13 games in 2011 and will be back for another run. Simon will be a senior and though the All-Big Ten performer could opt to depart early for the NFL where he would undoubtedly go in the first four rounds, there's been no indication that he plans to do so. He finished with 16 TFLs and seven sacks on the year and you can expect those numbers to maybe go up a bit next year when he won't draw as many double-teams.

Hankins burst onto the scene as a freshman last year and quickly won over the hearts and minds of Buckeye fans everywhere by plugging holes in the interior of the defensive line. As a true sophomore, Hankins finished third on the team with 67 tackles, which is nuts when you consider his position. He slowed a bit towards the end of the season when injuries caught up to him, but a year in Mickey Marotti's strength program will do wonders for him.

Goebel was a pleasant surprise as a junior, seeing more action than many of us thought he would. It was Goebel that was there to scoop up the delayed fumble from Brantley in the first half of the Gator Bowl and he had a knack for finding his way to the ball all season. With a year of experience under his belt, expect bigger and better things from Garrett in 2012.

Adam Bellamy and J.T. Moore split the remaining starts on the line after Nathan Williams was lost for the season with an injury after the opener against Akron. With Williams out, the Buckeyes often played a front that had Simon, likely a natural defensive tackle at end and three other tackles, fielding perhaps the only line in the country with four defensive tackles on it. Bellamy, a ginger warhammer, excelled late in the year, starting 9 of the team's final 10 games

Williams has stated that he will seek a medical redshirt and return for a 5th year in 2012 and if that happens, watch out. The Buckeyes would likely start a front four that featured Simon and Williams at end with Goebel and Hankins in the middle and there would be plenty of depth to back that group up, ensuring opposing lines saw wave after wave of talented and experienced bodies.

# Name HT/WT YR
90 Darryl Baldwin 6-4/290 R-SO
93 Adam Bellamy 6-4/302 R-JR
63 Michael Bennett 6-3/280 SO
57 Chase Farris 6-6/265 R-FR
53 Garrett Goebel 6-3/290 5-SR
51 Joel Hale 6-4/310 SO
52 Johnathan Hankins 6-3/335 JR
86 Kenny Hayes 6-5/240 SO
88 Steve Miller 6-4/245 SO
50 J.T. Moore 6-2/252 R-SO
54 John Simon 6-2/270 SR
43 Nathan Williams 6-3/255 5-SR
Se'von Pittman 6-5/245 FR
Noah Spence 6-4/245 FR
Adolphus Washington 6-4/230 FR
Tommy Schutt 6-3/301 FR

Of the five freshman from the defensive line in the 2011 class, only Chase Farris will be tabbed with a redshirt, the rest seeing time at various points throughout the year. Michael Bennett backed up Bellamy and saw action in all 13 games. Joel Hale played in nine games, including the final five, where he backed up Goebel. Kenny Hayes got into four games, while Steve Miller saw action in two.

Mike Vrabel's linebackers left something to be desired in 2011, but much like a player, he undoubtedly learned plenty in his first season and will return as a stronger coach in 2012 where his focus will be on the defensive line. He did play linebacker in the NFL, but it wasn't that long ago that he was capturing back-to-back Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year awards for Ohio State as a player.

Beyond working with a veteran group, Vrabel will also get the chance to put his stamp on four incoming recruits that form one of the best defensive line classes in the country.

Canton McKinley defensive end Se'von Pittman, a Rivals four-star, was originally a Michigan State verbal, but Urban Meyer was able to quickly work his magic and keep the star in state. Ditto for Noah Spence, a Rivals five-star from Harrisburg, PA who was originally committed to Penn State and Tommy Schutt, another Penn State verbal and Rivals four-star from Glen Ellyn, IL that flipped for the good guys.

Rounding out the class is Cincinnati Taft's Adolphus Washington, a freak of an end that recorded 25 sacks as a high school senior on the way to picking up four stars from Rivals.

With so much returning depth in front of this class, it's hard to say who will earn playing time as a true freshman, but I'd be surprised if at least two of them didn't see significant time as the season progressed. They're that good.

We'll be back next week to look at the linebackers, but until then, take comfort in knowing the Buckeyes will be fielding an excellent defensive front in 2012 -- perhaps the best we've seen in Columbus in a long time.


Comments Show All Comments

slippy's picture

Is it September yet?

Bucksfan's picture

Is it 2013 yet?

Maestro's picture

Crush fools.

vacuuming sucks

JLP36's picture

M Bennett = hardass.  expect great things from him


BTwrestle04's picture

Adolphus Washington will be the next Thaddeus Gibson. 

slippy's picture

Is that good or bad?  I mean, dude was good, but not great and left a year early when he probably shouldn't have.

BTwrestle04's picture

Thaddeus was a monster in my opinion. Plus he played a hybrid role where he would drop back into coverage.

slippy's picture

We must have not been watching the same player.

poop's picture

I agree with SLIPPY. He was way over hyped for what I saw on the field.

BTwrestle04's picture

His stats his junior year are comparable to anything that Cameron Heyward or Nathan Williams put up in their Junior campaigns:


Simon was on a whole different level this season, however.

slippy's picture

I don't think Nate Williams is that great either.  Guys like Gholston affected plays they didn't record stats in.  Gibson seemed to either get a TFL or get taken out of the play by a single block.

poop's picture

I agree with SLIPPY. Again. Williams is above average but I wouldn't say he's great.

FUqUespin's picture

Adolphus Washington will be the First Adolphus Washington

bassplayer7770's picture

Yeah, the D Line should be absolutely sick next season.  Can't wait to see 'em wreaking havoc on B1G Offenses!!!

vitaminB's picture

Is this the best DLine in the country next year?

M Man's picture

It could be the best 2 DLines in the conference.  3, if we weren't counting the Sparty thugs.

dan_isaacs's picture

Good review, but no love for Bennett?  He was a playmaker this year, on a defense sorely lacking them.

Dan Isaacs

NYC Buckeye's picture

Hope you enjoyed the easy write up!  I have a feeling next week's LB detail will not bring as much


Dr. Kenneth Noisewater's picture

you mean we aren't 16 deep at LB?!?!  Seriously, how sick is the potential of this

Jason Priestas's picture

Well, at least Sabino finally started popping dudes in the 13th game of his 4th season on campus.

FUqUespin's picture

HAW!! Really - WTF happened to our vaunted Linebacker U - I always hated them calling Penn State that...


We were ... how quickly that all changed - Holy Schneikes!!

Squirrel Master's picture

I like everything that was said, but I don't have that much enthusiasm with the encumbant backups. Williams, Simon and Hankins are going to kill. Goebel will be nice and I assume Miller will step it up. All the others though I did not see anything special that would make me think outside of offenses keying on the pryor 3 players, that they would get anywhere.

Again, this is based on 1. how they performed in the previous system and 2. probably no help behind them with quality experience. Shazier is awesome but he did not have experience and I am sure what we saw was pure talent.

With these incoming freshmen, I see no reason to think at least 1 of them will start and based on what I saw last night it can easily be Spence.

How about a starting line of Williams and Spence on outside and Hankins and Simon on inside? You even said Simon is really a DT not an end.

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

Buckeye06's picture

Most of those backups haven't even had a full offseason of conditioning; Bennett, Miller, Hayes, Farris etc should all be so much stronger with a year in the weightroom.  I'm extremely excited that we have 10 guys who have played bigtime snaps already at the college level.  Depth is the most important thing on the lines (which is why our O-line has had problems for the last 5 years)

I'm extremely excited, and honestly don't see why all 4 of the frosh couldn't RS if they wanted to and then have 4 years of bowl games etc.  Spence is a freak athlete, but he'll be behind Williams at the least, since Williams is a stud when healthy (if healthy).  We already have the depth on the line without them, with them they may burn a redshirt while only playing a small amt of snaps

Squirrel Master's picture

well as I said, my opinion is based on what I saw this past year. Obviously with some weightroom time and training by Urbans staff they can make that turn to a productive line. but it will have to happen soon! can't sit around and wait 2 years for Spence and Co. to take over. and Williams and Simon will be gone in 1 year.

A thought I had is maybe some of the speed rush ends who are lighter could start to play some OLB. could use some depth at linebacker if this years recruits come in on fire! anyway to get some PT right?

it is also hard to keep in mind, the defense is young. overall experience was lacking this year outside of Simon and Howard and Williams being out all season. Not trying to be pessimistic, just saying there is alot of work that still can be done with this D-line from what happened this year.

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

FUqUespin's picture

Those cats aren't staying four years...

BuckeyeJim's picture

I couldn't belive Spence weighed 245. He is so fast. Very impressive!!

crazykg's picture

Spence will mostly be a situational pass rusher if Williams is healthy and back to he previous form. Simon really should be a strong side D-End. He can still rush the passer, but with his strength/speed/moves/tenacity, he will hold up that side of the line on run plays, and pursue weak side runs. I would have to say that Goebel and Hankins with Bellamy and Hale on the inside for next year with Bellamy being a hybrid 3 and 5 technique like Simon was previously.

Our depth in the line will be our greatest strength and with the physical nature that next years line will have, our linebackers will have cleaner lanes to make better plays and should be more effective when they blitz.

Keep in mind that there is probably gonna be a couple transfers in the group. Based purely on physical traits and athletic ability, there are gonna be a few true sophmores that wont have any meaningful playing time if they play at all next year because of Spence and Washington.

Maestro's picture

Any fear that Simon will bolt for the NFL?  I would be mildly surprised, but not shocked by any stretch.

vacuuming sucks

Nick's picture

I don't think so he would be a late round draft pick if he left, not really worth it when he can move up into the 2-4 range if he has another great season. 

Squirrel Master's picture

uh, guys you need to read above. he states this about Simon:

Simon will be a senior and though the All-Big Ten performer could opt to depart early for the NFL where he would undoubtedly go in the first four rounds, there's been no indication that he plans to do so.

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

Squirrel Master's picture

I think he likes staying in college and knows he will learn alot from Urban and Co. I also think he believes he can get into top 3 rounds of the draft. possibly a 2nd rounder at most.

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

themostbrian's picture

Nice write-up, but there is one glaring error: Garrett Goebel was a RS Junior last year and will be a 5th year Senior in 2012. You have him listed as a RS Sophomore in 2012.

Jason Priestas's picture

Derp. Fixed, thanks.

themostbrian's picture

My take on the 2012 D-Line Depth Chart:

SDE: John Simon / Adam Bellamy / Kenny Hayes / Adolphus Washington

DT: Michael Bennett / Joel Hale / Daryl Baldwin

DT: Jonathan Hankins / Garrett Goebel / Tommy Schut

WDE: Steve Miller / Noah Spence / JT Moore / Seveon Pittman


A couple of observations:

1. The Rush End/LEO/Weak Side DE position is WIDE OPEN. My depth chart assumes that Nathan Williams will not be healthy enough to make any real contribution on the field and that leaves things really wide open - Steve Miller has some experience in the system and is a 5 star guy so I'm giving him the edge for the moment, but I wouldn't be shocked to see Spence come right in and be a big part of the rotation.

2. All our proven DL talent are either interior lineman (Hankins, Bellamy, Goebel) or hybrid types (Simon, Bennett). Our sole returning DE with any king of meaningful minutes under his belt would be JT Moore, who did not impress me. I would guess that our incoming freshmen DEs see just a bit of opportunity.

3. We need a good Defensive Tackle haul in next year's class: Goebel and Simon are Seniors while Hankins and Bellamy are Juniors. If Hankins leaves early, that will leave us with only Bellamy, Hale, Baldwin and Schut for 2013, which is pretty thin for me.

4. Urban Meyer's DL system has typically valued speed rather than size - quick DTs (think Simon/Bennett rather than Hankins/Goebel) and scary fast/athletic DEs (think Spence/Miller rather than Kenny Peterson). Now obviously he'll play to the strengths of our roster, which happens to be size/strength rather than speed among the upperclassmen.. but I'll be interested to see what kind of DTs he brings in going forward and whether he continues the trend of using a hybrid type with more size/strength at SDE (Simon, Cam Heyward, etc) rather than another Rush End.

Orlando Buckeye's picture

Why do you assume Nate won't be healthy enough to compete next year?

themostbrian's picture

Microfracture knee surgery is a devastating operation. No one comes back from it 100% and most recoverees lose athleticism and agility that is never recovered. Next season will start less than 1 year after his surgery and few are ready to go that quickly.

Maestro's picture

Trying to predict how his body will recover is a complete guess.  Hopefully he doesn't participate in Spring Practice and is patient with his rehab.  I think he will be considering that he will want to have an NFL future.  Even if he can be rotated back into the line up he could have a very positive impact on the DLine next season.

vacuuming sucks

Orlando Buckeye's picture

Good to know, thank you.

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

I know it's a different sport, but it worked out well for Amar'e Stoudemire.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

I'm not a doctor, but I've read that some patients come back 100 percent from the procedure. Apparently, one key is patience during recovery, but a year is sufficient recovery time if the patient takes his/her time, does all the right things, etc.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater's picture

Well, I am a doctor, and he will be fine after a year


(OK, I'm totally not a doctor)

FUqUespin's picture

I played the role of a doctor on TV...

and a Pilot...

and I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night...

Squirrel Master's picture

Williams will be ready to go next year. Don't doubt that one bit.

I think Spence would start over Miller. I think Spence and Miller will have to work hard to get PT away from the experienced players: Nate Williams, Simon, Bellamy and Bennett.

Shutt I predict will start next to Hankins in 2013. He is a stud and you gotta watch him in the Army AA game. I am sure Urban will grab a couple D-lineman in the coming 2 years so no worries on that.

I totally agree with you that I am concerned about the D-line in between Simon/Williams and Spence/Washington. This year was not a stellar year for the freshman class and could be contributed to alot of things but will need some improving.


I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

Seabass1974's picture

2012 AP Champs here we come.

The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender. - Woody Hayes

bassplayer7770's picture

You say that now, but wait until you read the LB Depth Chart...  LOL

Kalamazoo Steve's picture

D line makes up for a weak LB crew everytime.

Northbrook's picture

4 deep assuming no attrition is way more than enough. It gives us room to shift maybe a couple to OL. The names we have heard as possible are Farris and Baldwin.

It is going to be very interesting to see who leaves and who shifts position leading up to spring ball and then after that into fall.

blazers34's picture

urban and fickell sighting at the cincinnati sycamore bball game. wonder if there is interest in UM commit AJ Williams, or if its someone i dont know

blazers34's picture

Im an idiot.  They are playing Middletown. Probably there for Jalin Marshall

Bj Mullens over Sully's picture

I believe Jalin Marshall is playing basketball there, so theyre are there to see him and recruit him

Beat me to it by a minute lol =P

Favorite Buckeye: Obviously BJ Mullens

FUqUespin's picture

Jalin Marshall wants to play MLB or he will commit to notre lame - I heard that from a guy who was at a gas station in Middletown... and he thought he saw Jim Tressel in sunglasses and a trench coat with a recruiting folder under his arm...

thatlillefty's picture

great image... thanks for the lolz

Ohio1St81's picture

I'm watching the Cotton Bowl right now... Fox shows the bands before the game, they haven't weaved in an anti-Ohio State non sequitur, and Gus Johnson is doing the play-by-play. Can't Fox show more games? 

11W User Map:


FUqUespin's picture

2014 When the bcs will change... hang tight


FUQ Esp!n!

NeARBuckeye's picture

In other news, Paul Haynes is calling a helluva game for Arkansas... Not bad for his first game as a DC.


Edit: All the Arkansas fans are raving about how their new DC has made an impact on this game and seem pretty stoked for next season. 

1. I wonder if their moonshine addled brains comprehended that he came from Ohio State.

2. I think Paul Haynes leaving made just a big an impression in Ohio State's bowl game as his arrival has made in Fayetteville.

bassplayer7770's picture

The Fox commentators mentioned he was from Ohio State.  They even said Petrino was really interested in him because of how well tOSU's secondary tackles.

NeARBuckeye's picture

I live in Hog country. They're so amped about the new DC that I can't help myself. I had to deal with them asking where their Sugar Bowl trophy was all year.

Also they may actually be retarded. I think Arkansas is literally one of the top 3 dumbest states in the country. This is evidenced by the fact they sell moonshine in bars. (not necessarily a bad thing.)

rider1's picture

Two things that I find interesting...First, I don't think we need to consider redshirting as a must when you have a recruiter like UM. There will more than likely be a Noah Spence available sometime over the next four years. AND if you don't agree with the previous statement, why are "we" so willing to write off talents like Rod Smith and Steve Miller, 2 recruits that made our recruiting class last year.

onetwentyeight's picture

Not sure where to post this ... but anybody who lives in Nashville or really the Tenn. area should def. go watch this:

TNbuckeye91's picture

Damn, thanks for sharing. I live in Nashville so I'll definitely go see it

I come from a long line high, low, and in-between, the same as you. - TVZ

FUqUespin's picture

I fuqing hate mi$h!tagain

nickma71's picture

Defensive line is very solid. But they need a machine in there at linebacker. He doesn't have to be all world. Just a machine. Like Randy Gradishar in the past, and Ross Homan just recently. And many in between.

Buckeyejason's picture

I think Shazier is as close to a machine a you can get.


GlueFingers Lavelli's picture

If Curtis Grant can develop, we should be fine at linebacker. Shazier has shown he can and will be a stud. Im not worried about our LB depth just yet, they had a down year no doubt. Did we not recruit Joe Bolden?

Dustin Fox was our leading tackler as a corner.... because his guy always caught the ball.

bassplayer7770's picture

Looking at the roster:

Connor Crowell can hopefully fully recover from his injury.  Curtis Grant will hopefully work his way onto the field more.  James Hastings (who?).  Storm Klein (LOL).  Scott McVey (medical hardship).  Etienne Sabino will hopefully pick it up a notch.  Ryan Shazier should be a given.  Jordan Whiting (was he injured this year?).

Then add recruits Luke Roberts and Luke Perry so far.  Personally, I'd like to see at least one stud LB added to this roster.

Orlando Buckeye's picture

Whatever happened to Dorian Bell?

Orlando Buckeye's picture

Doh! I knew that. Is it too late to pretend that was a rhetorical question?

Whatever happened to Dorian Bell? *looks off into the distance*

bassplayer7770's picture

*goes back in time to NOT respond to Orlando's rhetorical question*


cplunk's picture

You forgot Andrew Sweat (unless there is something I don't know?), although I have concerns about his speed, his reads are good.

I think Sabino is just too slow. Maybe that changes when he is playing behind a monster defensive line. I really wasn't impressed with the D-Line at all this year. Too many times that they just didn't get pressure and gave the QBs waaayyy too long. Simon was great, but we really missed Nathan Williams.

Shazier will be great if he learns how to make better reads and doesn't run himself out of plays. He's got all the talent there is and flies around the field. Now he needs to develop better understanding of the game to take the next step.

I'd really like to see a stud LB come in. To me the LBs look like a young stud in Shazier, a steady-but-not-great vet in Sweat, and a whole bunch of can they? will they? are they? if they? at the other spots.

bassplayer7770's picture

I could have sworn Sweat was a Senior...

cplunk's picture

Doh- you're right. I confused him with Storm Klein, which speaks badly for Andrew. Ugh, that's even worse. 

Maestro's picture

Whiting just sucks.  Can't get on the field.

Grant, Shazier, Sabino and Klein is basically the LB crew. 

Crowell is a complete unknown, but his last surgery was last summer so he has had a long time to rehab.

Perry and Roberts shouldn't be expected to be more than special teams players next season if that.

vacuuming sucks

bassplayer7770's picture

And that's what I call lack of depth.

zbd's picture

The linebackers used to be the strength of the OSU defense.  Now it looks like the weak link of the defense. The DL now is looking great.  Those freshmen DL can't be kept off the field.

GlueFingers Lavelli's picture

Joe Bolden to Michigan...  There isn't anything that quite shakes my faith in all of humanity than an OHIO kid going to scUM!

Dustin Fox was our leading tackler as a corner.... because his guy always caught the ball.