Ohio State Defensive End Caden Curry Says He Returned to Be Part Of Elite D-Line, Focused On Perfecting His Craft

By Andy Anders on May 28, 2024 at 8:35 am
Caden Curry

The mere presence of Caden Curry in this year’s Ohio State defensive line room curries favor for him in the Buckeyes’ rotation.

A third-year defensive end playing behind starters Jack Sawyer and JT Tuimoloau – two likely NFL draft picks who returned for their senior seasons – Curry could have hopped in the transfer portal and won a first-string job elsewhere. But he and fellow third-year edge Kenyatta Jackson Jr. decided to stick it out and embrace a depth role as Ohio State’s third and fourth defensive ends in 2024.

“Those guys could have gone in the portal if they wanted to because (Sawyer and Tuimoloau) came back. But they all want to be part of something special,” Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson said. “I think that’s what separates us, who we are. The fact that KJ, Caden Curry never wandered in what they want to do. They just want to play and ball and come back and be the best player they can possibly be, accepted their roles. Their role this year is different. It’s a very long season, so we’re gonna need those guys.”

What some might see as a roadblock, Curry is viewing as an opportunity. Throwing fifth-year Mitchell Melton into the mix, Curry sees a stratospheric potential for what this year’s defensive end rotation can achieve. He wanted his piece of the action, thus, he’s gotten to work refining his game for another offseason.

“We know we’re making each other better every day and we’ve got the four best defensive ends – five best defensive ends, honestly – in college football,” Curry said. “We’re gonna be one of the best D-lines in college football.”

While Curry got involved in Ohio State’s defensive end rotation last year – alongside Jackson – he still wasn’t fully trusted in some of the Buckeyes’ marquee games.

Playing 166 snaps on the season, Curry saw just one down at Notre Dame and two at Michigan. Jackson received similar usage, at 176 snaps total with none at Notre Dame and one at Michigan. They were fourth and third in snaps among Ohio State’s defensive ends, respectively.

Curry picked up nine tackles with 3.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and one pass deflection in the time he toed the gridiron. With another year of growth and the stated desire from Johnson and the team at large to play more depth, however, Curry’s junior season could see a major uptick in playing time.

“We’ve talked about that, just because there’s more games we’ve got more opportunities (for playing time),” Curry said. “So just being able to get out there and have more of a rotation, and more people are going to have to play because injuries happen. Knock on wood it doesn’t happen, but at the end of the day you know you’re going to have to have a 2 and a 3 and I feel like we have a great setup right now.”

Johnson added that Curry, Jackson and Melton are all getting increased reps against the first- and second-team offense this offseason with the experience that Sawyer and Tuimoloau already have. Curry feels he’s gotten a good share each of the springs and falls he’s been in Columbus, but this year he’s embracing an even bigger bulk.

“I feel like all the camps I’ve definitely gotten a big course load and I love that,” Curry said. “I asked Coach J for it, I love getting more reps because I love perfecting my craft. Some people may not need it, some people need it but I just like to get as many reps as I can get.”

With his extra reps, Curry is trying to refine the minute aspects of his game.

“For me it’s always getting my little details perfect,” Curry said. “My steps, my footing and just perfecting my toolbox is what we call it, my craft. Just trying to win every play, it’s what I’m trying to do.”

"We’ve got the four best defensive ends – five best defensive ends, honestly – in college football."– Caden Curry

Another thing Curry’s tried to embrace this offseason is a leadership role.

Being an upperclassman comes with such responsibilities. Curry feels called upon to bring younger guys up.

“(I’m) getting stronger, faster, all of the above,” Curry said. “One of my big things is being a leader and not trying to still look up to Jack and JT, kind of have my own leadership and be able to bring people in too. So I feel like we have a lot of leaders on the D-line and at the defensive end position, so we all just bounce off each other.”

At the same time, however, Curry will fight to carve out as many snaps as possible behind Tuimoloau and Sawyer – while embracing the stacked nature of the Buckeyes’ defensive end depth chart.

“It’s been competitive and we love it,” Curry said. “We’re all competitive people, we all love to push each other and I feel like it’s bringing the best out of all of us. I feel like we’re all bouncing off each other. We see what one person does and we build it into our toolbox and we all build one great big one.”

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