At Ohio State in 2017, being a starting defensive end will be more of a formality. The Buckeyes have four top defensive ends on the roster with Tyquan Lewis, Sam Hubbard and Jalyn Holmes all option to return for another year. That trio joins Nick Bosa, a rising sophomore, to form perhaps the best defensive end unit in the nation.
With so many talented linemen on one roster, the Buckeyes have been experimenting with ways to get all of them on the field at once, and this spring that has led to Hubbard getting reps in a new role.
"We have done a lot of things with me dropping, playing a little stand up and working around, playing around with that," Hubbard said. "It’s been fun. We’ve all been working on different skillsets to try and all find a way on the field. We’ll see what happens, Coach (Larry) Johnson has got something up his sleeve I bet."
The ultimate goal is to have Lewis, Hubbard, Holmes and Bosa on the field at the same time as defensive tackle Dre'Mont Jones, who has been a big riser this spring. But while that could be coming down the line, it hasn't materialized on the practice field just yet.
"We haven’t gotten to it yet," Johnson said. "It’s still on the drawing board right now. We’ve got a plan, it’s just something we’re not doing right now. We’re just trying to get fundamentally better, that’s something that we’ll do down the road. If we’re going to do it we’ll do it the right way and it’s just something on the table."
Even if it hasn't happened yet, though, head coach Urban Meyer made it clear that the goal is to have the best players on the field together. That could mean four defensive ends and Jones playing at once, and spring practice is the time to experiment. Once fall camp rolls around, the Buckeyes will be preparing for Indiana rather than putting in new packages.
"You’ve got five really good checkers right there," Meyer said in regard to the five linemen. "Play them all at once. Those are little things that we’re talking about and trying, that’s what you get to do in spring."
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