One of the top defensive prospects from the state of Ohio is Todd Denlinger from Troy, Ohio. Denlinger, now 6-foot-3 and 280 pounds, played middle linebacker last season and had a terrific season. He recorded 125 tackles, 17 tackles for a loss, four sacks, one interception, and one punt block. Not a bad year for his first time playing linebacker after two years at defensive tackle. And consider this: Denlinger's playing weight was 265 pounds last season.
"It was pretty difficult at first," Denlinger said. "I had to make different reads and had different responsibilities. But after a few games I got more comfortable and I think I had a good year."
This upcoming season Denlinger will move back to defensive tackle, the position he played as a freshman and sophomore and the position he will play at the next level.
"I am really aggressive out there," Denlinger said. "I am a leader too, vocally and by example. I am looking forward to moving back to tackle. I know how to play the position and I have to get ready for college."
Speaking of college, there's one team that Denlinger has his heart set on playing at. But he knows that it may not happen and it's out of his control.
"My goal has been to always play for Ohio State," he said. "I grew up a huge fan and I love their tradition. They have not offered yet. I went there last Friday and sat down with them. They don't have many scholarships this season and they are short on offers. They told me to be patient and that I am high on their board. If it doesn't happen, it won't be devastating because I know I can go somewhere else and make an impact."
According to Denlinger, only Pittsburgh and Maryland have offered him a scholarship so far. But it sounds like Denlinger has his heart set on playing in Big Ten country or perhaps South Bend if things don't work out in Columbus.
I happened to see Denlinger on film this week and he certainly has enough upside to play in not just the Big Ten, but any college football conference in America. He is a really disruptive and aggressive player. Denlinger plays with good balance and leverage and has the body to fill out more. He is very tough against the run. Denlinger takes on and defeats blocks and reads and reacts to the ball very quickly. Once he gets his hands on you it's all over. Denlinger has nice lateral quickness and deceptive speed for a big man. He is also a high energy, high motor type player that never gives up on a play. Overall, he looks to be on film an outstanding defensive tackle prospect.