Looking Way Forward: The Defense

By Luke Zimmermann on February 12, 2010 at 7:00 am
Fly like an eagle... Into the sea.Not that Steve Miller. We think.

A week ago we looked at the possible movement that could go down after the 2010 season and threw around a few of the names that could help fill those gaps on the offensive side of the ball. This week, we get down and dirty with how the defensive side of the ball may play out.

The list of mandatory turnover on the defensive side of the ball isn't quite as large as that of the offense, but with seemingly all starters compiling the group, the implications could be rather significant:

DE Cameron Heyward
DT Dexter Larimore
LB Ross Homan, Tyler Moeller^, Brian Rolle
CB Chimdi Chekwa, Devon Torrence
S Jermale Hines

^ = Moeller would likely be granted an auto-6th year should he elect to pursue one.

Having to replace 8 starters on one side of the ball is seldom not a thoroughly risky proposition, even for a defense that manages to seemingly reload year in year out the way the Buckeyes have. Losing all 3 potential starting linebackers, both starting corners, and arguably the Buckeyes outright most talented player in Cameron Heyward though? You're looking at essentially an entirely new team in 2011. Those waiting in the wings better take advantages of the opportunities they have this coming Fall, and frankly, it certainly wouldn't hurt to get lucky and come out of the recruiting process with a name or two able to find themselves in the two deep in year one. A few names on OSU's radar on the other side.

The turnover on the defensive line is certainly helped by Nathan Williams getting his sack every other game or so in garbage time last season. Johnny Simon's play late in the season should also help make things easier on the interior portion of the line with the added experience to his resume. As if having a pair of guys who could be coming off their first year as starters wasn't fortuitous enough, the Bucks' first two commits for the 2011 class are a pair of defensive ends. Canton McKinley DE Steve Miller (Rivals / Scout) and Toledo Whitmer product Kenny Hayes (Rivals / Scout) won't have to spend their senior seasons worrying about where they'll be playing their college ball with the early decisions already behind them. Both are heralded as 4-star guys, with Hayes physically closer to year one size than the rail thin Miller (reader CantonBuckeye wisely points out that Miller bulked up his junior year and is a lot closer to field ready at 230 than he was a year prior). Indiana DT Kris Harley (Rivals / Scout), who's Mom is evidently a regular over on the Bucksnuts boards, is also very much on the Buckeyes' short list.

With a minimum of 2 of the 3 starting linebackers on their way out, early playing time may be a carrot enough to entice the Jordan Hicks type the Buckeyes narrowly missed out on this go around. A few of the early names making the rounds include turbo-beast 5-star LB Trey DePriest (Rivals / Scout). Scout ranks DePriest as the nation's best outside linebacker, and the Springfield native lists Alabama and Oklahoma amongst his offers. Another guy with a tOSU offer is Georgia linebacker Amarlo Herrera (Rivals / Scout). The kid was pretty under the recruiting site's radar this past season, but is garnering attention from the likes of Florida and Georgia. Detroit MLB Lawrence Thomas (Rivals / Scout), said to be the country's #1 interior LB by some, has also received an offer, though appears to be a Sparty lean in the early goings.

The secondary presents yet another challenge with Hines, Chekwa, and Torrence making way for the likes of Corey Brown, Travis Howard, C.J. Barnett, Nate Oliver, or Christian Bryant's of the world. DB depth could very easily be provided by St. Vincent-St Mary's CB Doran Grant (Rivals / Scout). Grant was thought to be amongst the state's best corners as a junior and should only get better with another year of seasoning under him. Florida DB Wayne Lyons (Rivals / Scout) also is the proud recipient of an early offer from Ohio State. Lyons is thought largely to project to safety and is rated amongst the top 10 at that position by Scout. Another Florida talent, speedster Jonathan Aiken (Rivals), could be another target. Scout's Florida writers regarded Aiken as one of the better talents they saw at a camp last Summer, though he remains under the radar with no early offers to speak of from the traditional recruiting powers in the region. A final name to keep an eye on is Jackson, TN native CB/WR Jabriel Washington (Rivals / Scout). While slightly undersized at just 165, try and watch Washington here and not have visions of Chris Gamble dance around your head.

So what say the commentariat? Which positions of need will be most critical for Ohio State to keep their 2010 momentum alive and well for 2011?