Future Forecast: Joel Hale

BuckeyeSports.com breaks down how and when verbal commitment Joel Hale figures to make an impact at Ohio State. The Buckeyes have no shortage of defensive linemen coming in, but Hale might offer something few of his peers can bring.

After a season in which their favorite team enjoyed unusual and nearly unprecedented depth on the defensive line, many Ohio State fans spent some winter nights fretting about the future of their front.

Joel Hale's decision to become the 14th Buckeye verbal commitment of the class of 2011 should go a long way toward squelching any heartburn about what defensive line coach Jim Heacock will do, however.

A 6-5, 295-pounder from Greenwood (Ind.) Center Grove, Hale is projected to play inside in college, but a view of his highlight tape shows he appears to have the quickness to play defensive end in some alignments.

This past season we saw the Buckeyes move from their usual 4-3 "Under" base defense to a hybrid 3-4 at times, a move that put more pressure on nose guard Dexter Larimore to draw double teams in the middle while freeing up other players to make plays.

Hale previously told BuckeyeSports.com he has played end in high school but figures to be able to bulk up to as much as 320 pounds "and still look skinny."

If that turns out to be true, he seems destined to play nose tackle in Columbus.

If he remains somewhere south of 300 pounds after another year of high school and spending some time in the Ohio State weight room, Hale could help at either of the essentially interchangeable down-lineman spots where Doug Worthington and Cameron Heyward claimed the majority of the reps last season.

In peaking at a 2011 roster projection, the greater need figures to be inside.

Larimore is about to enter his final season in Columbus, and his heir apparent is likely current sophomore Garrett Goebel.

Goebel, like Larimore, is a former standout wrestler who has excelled during open practice sessions and scrimmages the past two years, but in a position where bumps and bruises accumulate quickly, the need for a pair and a spare is considerable.

A bulked up Hale seems like a good bet to compete with class of 2010 signee Johnathan Hankins to back up Goebel inside.

As for the outside down positions, there figures to be no shortage of candidates, including 2011 verbal commitments Chase Farris, Ken Hayes and Michael Bennett.

John Simon, a sophomore this season who has drawn rave reviews from fans and coaches alike for his contributions as a true freshman and his work during the offseason, appears to have the skills to play any of the down line positions, but the best use of his talent is probably not fighting blockers inside but rather making plays as an end or 3-technique tackle.


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