Ohio State’s 2018 roster is loaded with talent, per usual, but how does it compare to the Buckeyes’ previous teams since Urban Meyer has arrived in Columbus?
Here at Eleven Warriors, we’ve been taking a position-by-position look at how the Buckeyes’ current roster stacks up with Ohio State’s rosters from Meyer’s first six seasons as head coach.
After evaluating how Ohio State’s current roster compares in terms of depth, experience and highly recruited players at each offensive position earlier this month, we get back into it on the defensive side of the ball with a look at the defensive ends.
Ohio State’s depth at the defensive end position last season was well-documented, as the Buckeyes have four legitimate starters at the position – Nick Bosa, Tyquan Lewis, Sam Hubbard and Jalyn Holmes – with the latter three all being selected in April’s NFL draft.
This season, it stands out that the Buckeyes don’t have as much experienced depth at the position, but also that they have three defensive ends who were highly touted recruits – Bosa, Chase Young and Jonathon Cooper – who all have the potential to be stars this season.
Are the Buckeyes as talented as they’ve ever been at defensive end, and how does their depth and experience at the position compare to seasons other than last year? We take a look back now at Ohio State’s defensive end rosters from 2012 to 2017, and compare them to the Buckeyes’ roster at the position for 2018, to answer those questions.
Ohio State’s defensive end rosters for every season from 2012 through 2018 are listed below with each player’s year of eligibility, number of recruiting stars (based on 247Sports’ composite rankings) and how many games they had appeared in and started going into each respective season, with analysis to follow on how this year’s group stacks up with the rest.
Note: Players who made position switches are only listed for the years that they were defensive ends on Ohio State’s roster.
John Simon, Senior (★★★★) – 39 games, 26 starts
Nathan Williams, Redshirt Senior (★★★★) – 35 games, 12 starts
J.T. Moore, Redshirt Sophomore (★★★) – 13 games, 4 starts
Michael Bennett, Sophomore (★★★★) – 13 games
Steve Miller, Sophomore (★★★★) – 2 games
Rashad Frazier, Redshirt Sophomore (★★★)
Noah Spence, Freshman (★★★★★)
Jamal Marcus, Freshman (★★★★)
Se’Von Pittman, Freshman (★★★★)
William McCary, Redshirt Senior (Walk-on)
Claudius Mbemba, Redshirt Freshman (Walk-on)
Noah Spence, Sophomore (★★★★★) – 11 games
Jamal Marcus, Sophomore (★★★★) – 11 games
Steve Miller, Junior (★★★★) – 2 games
Rashad Frazier, Redshirt Junior (★★★)
Joey Bosa, Freshman (★★★★)
Tyquan Lewis, Freshman (★★★★)
Chris Rock, Redshirt Sophomore (Walk-on)
Joey Bosa, Sophomore (★★★★) – 14 games, 10 starts
Steve Miller, Senior (★★★★) – 13 games
Rashad Frazier, Redshirt Senior (★★★) – 1 game
Tyquan Lewis, Redshirt Freshman (★★★★)
Jalyn Holmes, Freshman (★★★★)
Sam Hubbard, Freshman (★★★★)
Darius Slade, Freshman (★★★)
Chris Fong, Redshirt Junior (Walk-on)
Joey Bosa, Junior (★★★★) – 29 games, 25 starts
Tyquan Lewis, Redshirt Sophomore (★★★★) – 13 games
Jalyn Holmes, Sophomore (★★★★) – 9 games
Sam Hubbard, Redshirt Freshman (★★★★)
Darius Slade, Redshirt Freshman (★★★)
Chris Fong, Redshirt Senior (Walk-on)
Tyquan Lewis, Redshirt Junior (★★★★) – 26 games, 13 starts
Jalyn Holmes, Junior (★★★★) – 22 games
Sam Hubbard, Redshirt Sophomore (★★★★) – 13 games, 1 start
Darius Slade, Redshirt Freshman (★★★) – 7 games
Rashod Berry, Redshirt Freshman (★★★)
Nick Bosa, Freshman (★★★★★)
Jonathon Cooper, Freshman (★★★★)
Joe Schroer, Freshman (Walk-on)
Tyquan Lewis, Redshirt Senior (★★★★) – 39 games, 26 starts
Sam Hubbard, Redshirt Junior (★★★★) – 26 games, 14 starts
Jalyn Holmes, Senior (★★★★) – 35 games
Nick Bosa, Sophomore (★★★★★) – 13 games
Jonathon Cooper, Sophomore (★★★★) – 6 games
Chase Young, Freshman (★★★★★)
Nick Seme, Senior (Walk-on)
Aaron Cox, Freshman (Walk-on)
Nick Bosa, Junior (★★★★★) – 27 games, 7 starts
Jonathon Cooper, Junior (★★★★) – 20 games
Jashon Cornell, Redshirt Junior (★★★★) – 19 games (as DT)
Chase Young, Sophomore (★★★★★) – 12 games
Tyler Friday, Freshman (★★★★)
Tyreke Smith, Freshman (★★★★)
Javontae Jean-Baptiste, Freshman (★★★★)
Alex Williams, Freshman (★★★)
Noah Donald, Junior (Walk-on) – 1 game
Aaron Cox, Sophomore (Walk-on)
Overview: While the Buckeyes don’t have as much returning game experience at defensive end in 2018 as they did in 2017, it’s about on par – and in some cases, higher – than what the Buckeyes have returned at the position in most of Meyer’s previous seasons at Ohio State.
From an overall depth perspective, the Buckeyes are projected to actually have more scholarship defensive ends on their roster this year (though Javontae Jean-Baptiste could also end up at linebacker, while Alex Williams could also end up at tight end) than they have had since Meyer’s initial season in 2012. Half of those defensive ends are true freshmen who have never played a game for the Buckeyes, but they nonetheless have plenty of players at the position with the potential to contribute and a good foundation for their defensive end roster of the next three to five years.
As for the question of whether Ohio State’s 2018 defensive end roster is the most talented of the Meyer era, there’s a case to be made for it. The Buckeyes have seven defensive ends who were at least four-star recruits – tied for the most of the Meyer era with 2012 – including two five-stars in Nick Bosa and Chase Young, who were each top-eight overall recruits in their respective recruiting classes.
Ohio State’s 2017 group of "Rushmen" was the most well-rounded group that Meyer and defensive line coach Larry Johnson have had yet – with four defensive ends who were all capable of playing interchangeable roles – and they made a huge impact on the Buckeyes that went beyond their contributions on the field, as Tyquan Lewis, Sam Hubbard and Jalyn Holmes were all considered great team leaders.
The Buckeyes’ 2018 defensive ends aren’t likely to have quite that kind of impact in the locker room, but they’re capable of making an equal or potentially even greater impact on the field.
Nick Bosa is well on his way to joining his older brother, Joey Bosa, as one of Ohio State’s all-time great defensive ends. Young has likewise elite talent and could be on the verge of superstardom. Paired with Jonathon Cooper, Jashon Cornell and potentially a freshman or two, Ohio State should have a defensive end rotation that is at least two pairs deep and one of the best in the country once again.
The defensive end position has been one of Ohio State’s strengths throughout the Meyer era, especially since Johnson arrived in 2014, and with a roster that is loaded with talent both for this season and with players (other than Bosa and maybe Cooper or Cornell) who should be around for multiple seasons to come, that doesn’t look as though it should change anytime soon.