Although it is WAY TOO EARLY in the season, I cannot help but give props to the job that Coach Fickell, Coach Johnson, Coach Coombs and Coach Ash for reviving the unit that attracted me to become a full-fledged Ohio State Buckeyes fan. What a sight to see! Not only have they restored my faith in the defense, they also resurfaced as the Silver Bullets! It brings me back to the days when my favorite Buckeye defender ran the show at the Mike Linebacker Position. Surely, that is a very vague statement and seeing that Ohio State has seen numerous Mike Linebackers shine and run the show. One comes to mind, James Laurinaitis! A.J Hawk is also pretty high up there in my list. You could say the same for Fullback turned Middle Linebacker, Zach Boren. I get that nostalgic feeling when I see the defense flying around and making plays and having an impact on the game. That is what you come to Ohio State for and with the new group of gems that Coach Meyer has collected, watch out world! The Buckeyes are merely scratching the surface!
Ohio State is stacked from top to bottom. There is no exaggeration either. Literally at every position on Defense, we are stacked to the point to where the younger less-known players would become starters at other universities. I know that it really doesn’t make sense, but if you keep your attention right here, it will! I will talk about everything Defense on this piece. From the current starters, to Buckeyes on the two-deep and beyond that are waiting for the opportunity to compete and to make plays. I will also mention potential class of 2016 signees and targets.
Defensive End/Defensive Tackle:
With former great such as Jim Stillwagon, Will Smith and Mike Vrabel who have become productive Ohio State Alumni at the Defensive Line and recent Buckeyes John Simon, Jonathan Hankins, Cam Heyward, Mike Bennett and so fourth, you get where I am headed. Ohio State produces quality players year in and year out. The Buckeyes also produce a few busts, such as Vernon Gholston. It is hit or miss and sometimes the game can sneak up on you or they leave too early and are unprepared for a much different game. The Buckeyes look to add a few more names on this list of greats with Joey Bosa and Adolphus Washington nearing the end of their Buckeye careers, but I am not too worried about it.
This is arguably the deepest position and a definite strength for the Silver Bullets. With the two-deep all but locked up, if you look past it, you would regret it. So what if I told you that aside from starters, Joey Bosa and Tyquan Lewis and back-ups, Jalyn Holmes and Sam Hubbard, they still look nasty. Let’s see behind Holmes and Hubbard are Darius Slade, who was pushing for some playing time and Jashon Cornell. Last time I checked, Cornell was a blue-chip prospect from Minnesota who oozes potential and New Jersey prospect, Darius Slade who a lot of people slept on. That is a pretty deep three deep. Throw in Five Stars Nick Bosa and Jonathan Cooper, then it quickly becomes a four deep. Talent on top of more talent. Like the current Quarterback dilemma, the rich get richer. We are stacked on defense for years to come. Imagine if Terrell Hall was still committed to the Buckeyes, but I think that it is safe to say that Alabama is benefitting from a “more flexible” and “coach friendly” defense. No sour grapes and I wish the kid luck in the future.
This position isn’t as deep as the Defensive End situation, but things can change. Adolphus “Diesel” Washington and Tommy Schutt man the trenches alongside Bosa and Lewis. Behind them are Donovan Munger who is in a hotly contested battle with Michael Hill and Joel Hale who is ahead of Tracy Sprinkle. Add Freshman Robert Landers ad DaVon Hamilton waiting in the background for their opportunity. Factor that with incoming freshman Malik Barrow and recruiting targets, Rashan Gary, Dexter Lawrence, Rashard Lawrence and Antwuan Jackson, the Buckeyes are only going to get deeper at another position of strength. I am hoping one or two of the aforementioned names join the 2016, but if it doesn’t happen, we will still be okay. Barring any unexpected departures for next years draft, I can see a few more targets joining in.
Linebacker has been a strength for Ohio State. Flat out! With names like A.J. Hawk, James Laurinaitis, Ryan Shazier patrolling and leading Defenses and with Legends like Randy Gradishar, Pepper Johnson and Chris Spielman, Ohio State produces NFL ready prospects. Although many of the LB’s fall through the cracks and end up out of the League, there is no telling what this seasons crop will or won’t do.
Carrying the Linebacking Tradition, Ohio State boasts stars and playmakers alike with Strongside Linebacker Darron Lee, former Five Star Raekwon McMillian and Weakside Linebacker Joshua Perry who all have firm grip on their respective position. Behind him are Chris Worley, Camren Williams and Dante Booker. They also have a bevy of future stars in Justin Hilliard, Jerome Baker, Dre’Mont Jones and Nick Conner. With the depth at the Linebacker position, I can surely say that if the right recruits want in, Coach Meyer will find a way to add them to the class if other positional needs cannot be met. Current commit Tuf Borland is the only commit at this position, I can comfortably say that we are done with the position.
First off, I am a Broncos fan and another Buckeye great made some plays this week. Former shut-down corner, Bradley Roby recovered a fumble to win the game for Manning and the Broncos. Roby is from a long line of Buckeye Greats at the Defensive Back position. Let’s see, Malcolm Jenkins, Kurt Coleman, Shawn Springs, Antoine Winfield, Donte Witner, Chris Gamble, Nate Clements and Will Allen. Add Legendary players like Jack Tatum to the fold and you can just imagine how deep routed the tradition is, when putting DB’s into the NFL.
So with Eli Apple and newly anointed starter, Gareon Conley locking the outside receivers up and with Vonn Bell and Tyvis Powell laying the lumber and patrolling the middle that is a pretty lethal stranglehold when defending opposing offenses. With Damon Webb, Marshon Lattimore and Denzel Ward in the Nickel that pretty much forces an offense to pick their poison. The Safety position is also as deep as every other position on Defense and it has really become a recurring theme with Ohio State. With Cam Burrows and Erick Smith picking up the slack for Bell and Powell whenever they need a rest or during mop-up duty there will be little to no drop-off. Current Freshman, Eric Glover-Williams, Joshua Norwood and Damon Arnette with incoming Freshman, Wayne Davis and Kareem Felder coming in after National Signing Day. Let’s not forget about the targets, Chauncey Gardener, Jordan Fuller or Damar Hamlin who all hold Ohio State offers.
So to summarize this article, WE ARE SET FOR YEARS!!! If we could somehow manage to pluck a few blue-chip recruits in both 2016 and 2017, the Buckeyes will be loaded once again. With the top classes in 2016 and 2017, we will continue to improve and eventually dominate College Football. But I am a humble fan who takes it a week at a time, as all Buckeyes Fans should, but I digress. This will be a lot of fun for a few more years. If we also successfully defend our Crown, the recruiting floodgates will open, but until then, ONE GAME AT A TIME.