As we roll on with our Next Man Up series, we turn our attention to the defensive side of the ball, where the Buckeyes have had great success in the past two seasons.
However, Joey Bosa is now a Charger and the Ohio State defense also loses interior line depth as Adolphus Washington, Tommy Schutt and Joel Hale are all gone. The Silver Bullet’s must reload along the defensive line, and lucky for them, the depth seems to be there.
With a total of eight former four or five star recruits with less than five career starts across the defensive line, Larry Johnson will have his pick of who takes the places of Bosa, Washington and Schutt. Assuming he is healthy, Tyquan Lewis will resume his starting role along the line, but who will line up opposite him in Bosa’s place? There are four players that meet our qualifications for this series as we look at the defensive ends in this installment.
The leading candidate to replace Bosa is undoubtedly Sam Hubbard. Hubbard started the Virginia Tech season opener when Bosa was suspended and made an impact, collecting four tackles and a sack in his first game as a Buckeye. He finished his redshirt-freshman campaign with 28 total tackles, 6.5 sacks and an interception.
A five star recruit, Nick Bosa appears to have all the tools to follow in the footsteps of his older brother at Ohio State. While he is coming off of ACL surgery which shortened his senior year of high school, Nick Bosa is almost a sure thing to be in the rotation for the Buckeyes at defensive end this season.
A four star recruit in the 2014 class, Jalyn Holmes comes into his junior season with just 22 career tackles, collecting 11 in each of his first two seasons. A physical specimen, Holmes has been buried behind the likes of Joey Bosa, Lewis, Rashad Frazier and Steve Miller in his time in Columbus and the competition is just as stiff in 2016.
The top high school football player in the state of Ohio in the 2016 recruiting class, Jonathon Cooper comes to Ohio State with plenty of hype. Unfortunately for him, the depth at the position could greatly hurt his chances of seeing significant playing time as a true freshman.
Other players to note at the defensive end position include former three star recruits Darius Slade and converted tight end Rashod Berry. Donovan Munger would have been a candidate for this list, however his football career was cut short due to blood clots discovered in the off season.
Keep an eye out for the next installment of our Next Man Up series, when we look at the former four and five star recruits at the defensive tackle position.