Ohio State's Strength Has Been its Defensive Ends and They Just Keep Getting Better

By Kevin Harrish on July 4, 2017 at 10:10 am
Jalyn Holmes and Nick Bosa are members of Ohio State's loaded defensive line.

Every position group has been great since Urban Meyer's arrival at Ohio State with each one producing at least one player currently on an NFL roster. Still, the defensive line, or more specifically the defensive ends, might take the crown as the most consistently great position during Meyer's time in Columbus.

Much of that success on the field is due to enormous success in recruiting.

After accepting the head coaching job in late 2011, the new Buckeye coach wasted no time hitting the recruiting trail. Ohio State locked up the nation's No. 1 and No. 2 weak-side defensive ends (WDE) in the 2012 class, Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington.

That duo rotated in with John Simon and Nathan Williams during the 2012 season, before earning starting spots the following season. Only, Washington's time outside was short-lived. The former five-star defensive end found himself moving to the inside of the line because Meyer recruited yet another monster edge rusher: Joey Bosa.

Bosa and Spence, of course, were arguably the best pass-rushing duo in the country during the 2013 season. While a failed drug test kept Spence from playing alongside Bosa any longer, Bosa established himself as one of the nation's best overall players during the 2014 and 2015 seasons and was taken No. 3 overall in the 2016 NFL Draft.

All the while, Meyer and defensive line coach Larry Johnson continued to dominate on the recruiting trail. Between 2013 and 2016, the Buckeyes secured commitments from No. 10 WDE Tyquan Lewis, No. 4 WDE Jalyn Holmes, No. 9 SDE Jashon Cornell, No. 11 SDE Dre'Mont Jones, No. 1 SDE Nick Bosa and No. 3 WDE Jonathan Cooper – five four-stars and one five-star.

Ohio State DE Recruiting (247 Sports Composite)
Year Player Position Pos. Ranking Star Rating
2012 Noah Spence WDE 1 5-Star
2012 Adolphus Washington WDE 2 5-Star
2012 Se'Von Pittman WDE 8 4-Star
2012 Jamal Marcus WDE 21 4-Star
2013 Joey Bosa SDE 4 4-Star
2013 Tyquan Lewis WDE 10 4-Star
2014 Jalyn Holmes WDE 4 4-Star
2014 Sam Hubbard ATH 13 4-Star
2014 Dylan Thompson SDE 22 3-Star
2014 Darius Slade SDE 42 3-Star
2015 Jashon Cornell SDE 7 4-Star
2015 Dre'Mont Jones SDE 11 4-Star
2015 Joshua Alabi SDE 30 3-Star
2015 Rashod Berry WDE 35 3-Star
2016 Nick Bosa SDE 1 5-Star
2016 Jonathan Cooper WDE 3 4-Star
2017 Chase Young WDE 2 5-Star
2018*** Brenton Cox SDE 2 5-Star
2018*** Andrew Chatfield WDE 15 4-Star

*** committed but not yet enrolled

Add four-star athlete Sam Hubbard to that mix and you have the Buckeyes' current crop of defensive ends – some of whom have since moved to defensive tackle – making up arguably the most talented defensive line in the entire country.

Lewis returns as a third-year starter after being named the Big Ten's top defensive lineman following the 2016 season. He's started every game since the 2015 season and is on pace to finish in the top-5 in school history for sacks in a career. Opposite him is Hubbard who ranks second on the team in both tackles for a loss and sacks.

Then you have Holmes, who has the talent of a starter, is listed as a starter, but has never started a game due to the talent in front of him. He's followed by five star Bosa and No. 3 WDE in the 2016 class, Cooper. The Buckeyes are so loaded at the position that their two-deep, maybe even its three-deep at defensive end could start almost anywhere in the nation.

And the thing is, the best may still be yet to come.

Cooper and Bosa – both five stars – were the highest-rated defensive ends out of high school currently on the team and they have yet to even crack the starting lineup. Five-star and No. 2 WDE Chase Young is rated even higher than Cooper was and he hasn't even arrived on campus yet.

The Buckeyes are so loaded at the position that their two-deep, maybe even its three-deep at defensive end could start almost anywhere in the nation.

And it doesn't stop there. With the names currently committed and the top targets remaining, its likely Ohio State will reload its defense line ever with its best defensive line recruiting class ever just one month later.

The Buckeyes currently hold commitments from two defensive ends in the 2018 class and will likely add two more before national signing day. Five-star and No. 2 SDE Brenton Cox and four-star and No. 15 WDE Andrew Chatfield are currently committed while No. 4 WDE Tyreke Smith, four-star and No. 10 SDE Jayson Oweh and five-star and No. 1 WDE Micah Parsons are all candidates to be next.

Simply put, the Buckeyes will have arguably its best defensive line ever in 2017, and that's not even as good as it's going to get. Ohio State keep stockpiling the nation's top talent at defensive end and it's going to keep resulting in fireworks on the field.

To steal a phrase from Holmes, the next few years will just be a giant party to the quarterback.

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