Buckeyes Move on to Plans B and C at Defensive End

By Kyle Rowland on May 27, 2014 at 8:30a

Weeks of rumblings came to fruition Monday when Jamal Marcus’ fate became known. The junior defensive end started – and excelled – in the Orange Bowl in place of the suspended Noah Spence. He had six tackles and a crucial pass breakup, with many believing it to be a precursor for 2014.

But the 6-foot-1, 243-pound Marcus spent portions of spring practice working with the third team and stopped practicing altogether after academic issues arose in April. Steve Miller and Tyquan Lewis took a bulk of his snaps. Questions galore surround the vacant spot left by Spence, who’s suspended the first two games of the season.

Joey Bosa, Michael Bennett and Adolphus Washington leave no doubt about the other three starters. It appears Miller, Lewis and Rashad Frazier are destined to compete for the two-game audition once fall camp commences. Three true freshman defensive ends – Jalyn Holmes, Dylan Thompson and Darius Slade – join the team this summer.

Lewis becomes the most intriguing subject now. He received rave reviews from teammates and coaches during bowl preparation and spring practice. A North Carolina native, like Marcus, Lewis possesses a nearly identical frame to his Tar Heel State companion – 6-foot-2, 240 pounds.

As the line’s elder statesman, Bennett sits back and observes the unit. What he’s seen the past six months is gradual improvement in Lewis, from raw rookie to havoc-inducing redshirt freshman.

The other end of the spectrum is covered by Miller, a senior who’s stuck around when playing time wasn’t always evident. Last season, he had three sacks and six tackles for loss, providing proof that he can morph into a reliable member of the defense, not just a body in practice.

Line depth is paramount in college football, and Ohio State’s first two games present different challenges. In the opener, the Buckeyes are tasked with Navy’s vaunted ground game and cut blocks. Ohio State faces Virginia Tech and its up-and-coming tailback Trey Edmunds the following week. Defensive line coach Larry Johnson is adamant in creating an eight- or nine-man rotation.

“There’s not a first group, there’s not a second group. There’s a group of guys trying to get better,” Johnson said. “I’ve sold them on the idea that there are going to be eight or nine guys. The game has changed. You’re talking about spread offense, quick snaps, so that number of plays can go from 65 to 90 really quick. You add that times 12 games, that’s a lot of football.

“What I want to do is play fresh. I want to play eight or nine guys every time and be relentless. That way every guy can play as hard as they can every play. That's how you play defense.”

Marcus was vying to be part of that robust rotation. He came to Ohio State as a defensive end, switched to linebacker and then moved back to his natural position. Pass rushing was his forte and he was a contributor on special teams. Marcus had sacks last season against San Diego State and Northwestern, part of his 21-tackle total.

Glimpses of promise as a backup and positive play in the Orange Bowl didn’t guarantee Marcus anything, though. Praise and stable playing time is earned in practice. One bad day can spell doom for players attempting to be noticed for the right reasons.

“There’s just a lot of competition up there with those guys,” co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash said in the spring. “It’s probably, in my opinion, of the teams I've been on, the most guys up front that can actually play. There’s extreme competition. You’re going to have to be pretty good to get in that rotation.”

Ohio State is now at 82 scholarships, the number required due to NCAA sanctions. The 2014 season is the last in which the Buckeyes are hamstrung and docked three scholarships.

They also hope it’s the final time Memorial Day brings bad news. 


Comments Show All Comments

Damonbuckeye's picture

Knowing how much emotions memorial day brings up in recent buckeye history why did tOSU need to announce at this time???

Buckeye06's picture

If Marcus put in the effort and came short, then I feel bad for him.  If he didn't put the effort in to get it done, then it's on him.

I'm not too concerned about the guys at DE.  That was our deepest position going into this year.  Miller and Lewis can easily hold that spot down (I thought Miller played great when given the opportunity last year). 

Against Navy I could foresee a scenario where they test out a "big" formation up front with Bosa, Bennett, Schutt/Carter and Diesel back on the outside.  You aren't going to get many opportunities to sack anyone against Navy, so maybe a bigger front will stuff everything and not give Navy a point to attack (based on weight and leverage from that weight).

It sucks, but DE is at least a position where we have some proven depth

+5 HS
alust2013's picture

I agree, definitely not worried at DE, and I thought that line would make sense to start the first couple games, plus Steve Miller is solid.

...and Michigan still sucks.

thatlillefty's picture

So what it Marcus hadn't been dismissed (or encouraged to transfer)? How we can we go this far into the offseason over the allowed scholarship count? Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems somebody would have had to left the team at some point. And if that's the case then, it's very shady.

-10 HS
Jpfbuck's picture

I know there are many on here who disagree but I have zero issue with cutting and underperforming scholarship holder in favor of a new person to get back to the right number

now that said I think if they are "cut" they should be able to transfer with no delay or having to sit out


-1 HS
thatlillefty's picture

I'm not sure why this comment warranted so may downvotes. Maybe the poor grammar/punctuation (sorry guys, still waking up from the long weekend)? But seriously. Many people on this site have no problem with ripping the SEC for oversigning, But we're well into May and over our allowed count? Does nobody else see a problem with that?

And I was a big fan of Jamal Marcus. The kid was a beast in the Orange Bowl and I was looking forward to seeing him make plays this season. I'm sad to see him go.

jameslee203's picture

Sad to see Marcus go as well, was hoping they would find a spot for him, always had tons of talent.  Maybe he can go to JMU with Withers?

As far as oversigning, we were 1 over in May.  Also, I'm more than 50% sure that staff knows of another guy who is moving on or injured.  Let's take a worse case and say that they knew the team was 1 over and had to bail on a kid.  The program would have to answer to the BIG about that and take some real heat from fans.  The staff would be within their rights to bail on a 5th yr anyway.  

I'm just sayin, when 5 guys get medical releases and 5 more get bounced for "team rules", every year.....  Then we can get upset.

JohnnyKozmo's picture

I really don't have a problem with cutting players.  I mean, kids are cut in High School sports, pros get cut.  I understand the point of going to school, and the loss of a scholarship means most of these kids can longer be enrolled.  I like the idea of an immediate transfer, but I would also like the idea of an extra number of scholarships, say 5-10, that a program can use for this purpose.  If someone isn't getting what the coaches are preaching, or disruptive in the lockeroom,-whatever it may be, then the coaches ought to be able to cut that kid.  However, they would still retain their aid for school, should they choose to stay.  I think you would get even hungrier players, and less entitlement than we are seeing now with a lot of these highly touted recruits, who come in, and don't get the playing time they feel that they deserve.


I don't agree with over signing, and getting rid of kids backhandedly, when everyone knows you need to.  Hopefully, this was handled on the up and up, and there was nothing shady about it.  Doesn't matter if it's SEC or B1G, it's still wrong when done unethically.



Pain don't hurt-Dalton

+2 HS
Homey1970's picture

I believe the reason for the down votes is that you speculate of something "shady" when there's not one bit of evidence to support your claim.  I also believe the schollie limit is in effect at a particular moment during the school year...something like 1 Aug or 1 Sep (maybe the start of academic classes???).  It's a sliding scale.  Otherwise, early enrollees would bump that number while seniors are finishing their last semester, while still on scholarship.  In this specific case, I don't see the Buckeyes cutting a player of Marcus' abilities just to get under 82...he shows way too much potential.  I see him going to another school and getting drafted one day.   

+2 HS
buckskin's picture

The whole Marcus situation is disappointing, with Spence out, I really felt he had a great opportunity to build on his awesome orange bowl performance. Really pulling for Miller to get some PT.

KingsRite's picture

I really like Jamal's motor but it is what it is.  I'm not worried at all though because there is plenty of talent at that position. Steve Miller played very well anytime he was in.

“I have yet to be in a game where luck was involved. Well-prepared players make plays. I have yet to be in a game where the most prepared team didn't win.” -Urban Meyer-

actionstanleyjackson's picture

Lewis...door has been opened for him 

Stay golden, Ponyboy.

Chief B1G Dump's picture

Does Fickel have any eligibility left?  What about moving one of our stable of RBs to DE to just speed rush all day?

Oh, those won't work...then I think we can all chill and roll with who we got till Spence gets back. Despite losing a real nice lineman like Marcus, I still think our DLine will be stout and it looks like Lewis is next man up and gets his chance. Especially since we don't get into the meat of the season till later. Obviously Playing Navy is a different discipline. It sucks to lose Marcus but I am all for our program setting the precedent. 

+1 HS
JohnnyKozmo's picture

I thought Spence was still going to appeal.  I know they tried before the Orange Bowl, but I thought he was still going to fight it prior to the beginning of the season.

Pain don't hurt-Dalton

Chief B1G Dump's picture

The B1G suspended him for the whole season. The appeal resulted in a reduction to 3 games. Orange Bowl, Navy and Va Tech. Unless something has changed in the offseason, that's what the Spence family and OSU have accepted.

+1 HS
JohnnyKozmo's picture

Ahh-ok.  Thanks.

Pain don't hurt-Dalton

JohnnyKozmo's picture

double post-sorry

Pain don't hurt-Dalton

southbuc's picture

Based on spring, I am going to surmise that he just had trouble academically.  He's a friend of some friends of my wife and everything I've heard is that he is a great kid (yes anyone under 25 or even 30 is a kid).  Hopefully he can find somewhere where the rigors aren't as strenuous.  

AlwayzABuckeye614's picture

Im more mad at the fact that he is such a damn good player that he will be playing for someone else. I knew he was gonna be a beast once I saw him on special teams as a freshmen he was always  in on tackles. Yes we have depth, but we do not have him anymore. 


+4 HS
WhySoSerious's picture



Like the ball in the stands, we balls out

Tampabuckeye85's picture

I have not been one to start screaming fire when it comes to the slow start to recruiting this year, but I am starting to wonder what is going on? If it was just the slow commits that would not cause concern, but what is starting to worry me is the number of people we have lost on top of not having the commitments that we are use too. Anyone have an opinion on why things are going the way they are. Are some recruits maybe concerned with limited playing time based on talent we already have? I am not ready to press the panic button just yet, but if we do not have some players committed by the end of June I just might hit it.

MattyBeingMatty's picture

Could Spence be the next one gone?

“Not everybody’s the perfect person in the world, I mean everyone kills people, murders people, steals from you, steals from me, whatever. I think that people need a second chance, and I’ve always looked up to Mike Vick." -TP

-3 HS
jamesrbrown322's picture

Is this a joke?


"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

MattyBeingMatty's picture

It is not...


“Not everybody’s the perfect person in the world, I mean everyone kills people, murders people, steals from you, steals from me, whatever. I think that people need a second chance, and I’ve always looked up to Mike Vick." -TP

-1 HS
Earle's picture


Snarkies gonna snark. 

doodah_man's picture

I'm still keeping my fingers crossed for a full ride scholly for the guy that delivers pizza to the Fickel home.

Jim "DooDah" Day

"If I were giving a young man advice as to how he might succeed in life, I would say to him, pick out a good father and mother, and begin life in Ohio.” --Wilbur Wright, 1910

DoubleB's picture

Memorial Day weekend strikes again!!


Tom57's picture

I'm really sorry to see the kid go and he showed a lot of promise, but it makes me glad I'm not a DC or DL coach since most fans are pretty clueless.

Marcus made a solid handful of great plays and showcased his outstanding athletic ability and nose for the football.

He also made a handful - being generous - of horrid plays that ended up in the end zone or significant gains for Clemson. He simply isn't/wasn't capable at the point of attack versus the run and in some cases didn't take the proper lane on his pass rush. The problem is that on D if you blow 5% of your assignments that could be 21 or more points the other way.

It's much more important on D to be consistently good, than occasionally outstanding. I'm sorry he's gone b/c you can coach consistency.... but some kids won't take it.

+1 HS
CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

I hate to lose Jamal Marcus.  He's a talented kid.  I suppose the only bright thing is that it does happen at a position where we are pretty deep at - DE.  I think the younger players will work hard to take up the slack until Spence gets back.

Go Bucks!!

hcazualcc's picture

tyquan lewis must be pretty damn good for the staff to part with jamal marcus.  feel good about that at least.