Ohio State added three defensive linemen last Wednesday to the nation's number-two ranked recruiting class. How will the freshmen fit in with the returning lettermen?
DEPARTING: Three starters are gone, including all-world defensive end Joey Bosa, and NFL draftee Adolphus Washington. Tommy Schutt provided depth and played a lot of games for Ohio State.
INJURED: Dylan Thompson: Not sure where this player is with his rehab. Need to see how Ohio State updates his status in the future.
DEFENSIVE ENDS: On a team with a lot of inexperience across the board, this position actually returns three players that saw quality minutes.
Tyquan Lewis: Was a starter opposite Bosa, and established himself as a potential all-league performer. Plays the run well, and can rush the passer. Should be better in 2016. No worries with Lewis.
Sam Hubbard: Showed great promise as a redshirt freshman pass-rusher last season, and should have first shot at replacing Bosa. Needs to continue to get stronger to be better against the run, but has a chance to be an impact player next season.
Jalyn Holmes: Saw playing time as the #4 defensive end, and showed great promise. Will have to hold off two freshmen to keep his seat at the table. Seeing Holmes being pressed for playing time only speaks to the talent in this position group.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE: This seems like a problem area, but there are a lot of candidates for the two-deep, including a few that got regular playing time last season.
Michael Hill: Really looked good late in the year, and might be looked at as the top defensive tackle on the roster. Needs to continue to build on last season, and Hill taking the next step will only add to the position's depth and talent.
Donovan Munger: Also saw time last year with mixed results. A year's experience, combined with another year in the weight room, puts him in the mix for a starting spot.
Tracy Sprinkle: Played tackle last season, and could also play defensive end. Alternated with Munger after Ohio State lost Washington and Schutt for the bowl game, and showed promise.
Jashon Cornell: Redshirted last season, and will look to battle for playing time this season. Could also play defensive end, and this spring should show what position he will play this year.
DaVon Hamilton: Also redshirted last season, and will look to find a spot in the two-deep this season. Has the size they are looking for.
Robert Landers: An undersized tackle, but a player with a lot of talent. Has the quickness and motor of former Buckeye Michael Bennett, and now we need to see if he has that type of talent.
Joshua Alabi: The fourth defensive tackle that redshirted last year, and he has the size to play the position, but it's not known if he has the talent to be in the two-deep.
Dre'Mont Jones: Like Cornell, this is a player that could also play defensive end. Coming off a knee injury, so his availability this spring is in question. Could be a player that slides inside, like Washington did.
FRESHMEN: Three are being brought in, and the two defensive ends are probably going to play as true freshmen.
Nick Bosa: One of the top prospects in the country, Bosa is coming off a knee injury. If fully healthy, he wll battle the other defensive ends for playing time. Has a chance to put a starter on the bench by midseason.
Jonathon Cooper: Not as highly rated as Bosa, but that type of recruit. Reported early, so he will go through winter conditioning and spring football. Like Bosa, Cooper has a chance to steal playing time from some good players as the year goes on.
Malik Barrow: Will more than likely redshirt this season, to give his injury a chance to heal, and also gain separation from all of the other defensive tackles on the roster.
OVERALL SUMMARY: The defensive ends are as good collectively as any in the country, and they have five guys that I'm comfortable saying can play right now at a high level. Folks are worried about the tackles, but I would not necessarily agree. I think Hill, Munger and Sprinkle gained valuable experience last year, and all three should be better. There is depth behind them, albeit unproven and very young. I feel the defensive line as a whole will be a strength next season, and the future is quite bright for this position group.