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Double and Triple-Teams are Gone but the Buckeyes Can Replace Joey Bosa's Production
By Patrick Murphy
There is plenty of talent returning on the Ohio State defensive line
Photo by Patrick Murphy
 

COLUMBUS – Yes, Joey Bosa is gone. With him goes the 148 total tackles, 26 sacks, and the double and triple teams the Ohio State defensive end demanded by the end of his three-year career.

What he leaves behind though may be the deepest position group returning for the Buckeyes, at least on paper.

Urban Meyer made it clear when he arrived at OSU that winning in the trenches, specifically on the defensive side of the ball, was vital to his team’s success. He brought in six defensive linemen in his first recruiting class, including talented defensive ends Noah Spence, Adolphus Washington, and Se’von Pittman.

Joey Bosa was in the next class, but Meyer and his staff didn’t stop there. Each season, the Buckeye coaches sought out the best collegiate defensive linemen and that’s why the loss of Bosa, although major, will not be a fatal blow to the Silver Bullets in 2016.

Lewis is ready to takeover on the D-line
Photo by Jim Davidson
 

In 2015, Buckeye Nation saw some new talent emerge at the defensive end position. Opposite Bosa on the defensive line was Tyquan Lewis, who became a starter this year as a redshirt sophomore. Lewis benefited from the attention given to Bosa, leading the team in sacks with eight and finishing with 14 tackles for a loss.

Lewis demonstrated his ability as a pass rusher from day one this season, boosting a depleted defensive line – with no Bosa due to suspension – with six tackles, two tackles for a loss, and 1.5 sacks against Virginia Tech.

With Bosa out for the opener, the coaches got to experiment with the future of the defensive end position heading into the game with the Hokies. Sophomore Jalyn Holmes and redshirt freshman Sam Hubbard battled for Bosa’s spot throughout Fall Camp.

While they both played and did well in that game, Hubbard eventually established himself as the heir apparent to No. 97, seeing more playing time throughout the season as Bosa was moved around the line.

Both players played in every game this year, but Hubbard earned multiple starts. When Bosa was ejected during the first quarter of the Fiesta Bowl, Hubbard was the player who benefited, seeing an increased workload against Notre Dame.

If healthy, it will likely be Hubbard who lines up at Bosa’s defensive end spot for the 2016 season opener against Bowling Green, but that doesn’t mean Holmes won’t have a role. With the way defensive line coach Larry Johnson likes to rotate, multiple players will need to be ready to go.

Holmes will certainly be involved in the rotation, but Darius Slade is someone who must step up his game. Having played as a redshirt freshman, Slade brings some experience to the end spot, but his lack of tackles – yet to record one in college – is an issue that will need to be remedied quickly next season.

Beyond that, there is a lot of talent, but it is unproven.

The Buckeyes have two four-star defensive ends from the 2015 class who both redshirted last year.

Jashon Cornell is among many young Buckeye D-linemen with mass potential
Photo by Jim Davidson
 

Jashon Cornell was the seventh best strong-side defensive end in his class according to the 247Sports composite and the number one player out of Minnesota. He enrolled early at Ohio State last winter, but did not see the field this season. Another offseason with strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti, not to mention working with Coach Johnson, should have him as part of the rotation in 2016.

Dre’Mont Jones wasn’t far behind Cornell in the 247Sports composite rankings, coming in just four spots below Cornell as the 11th best strong-side defensive end. Like Cornell, the Cleveland native redshirted his first year in Columbus, but it was due to a knee injury suffered before the season. Jones participated in bowl practice and received high praise from coaches and teammates.

There are also multiple highly touted freshmen headed to Ohio State for 2016 including one name fans will recognize.

Nick Bosa, Joey’s younger brother, is ranked the top player at his position according to 247Sports and the sixth best player in the country. By comparison, Joey was only the fourth-best defensive end as a high school senior and never earned the fifth star that his brother has.

Not to be outdone is another five-star prospect, Jonathan Cooper out of Gahanna Lincoln in Columbus, who is an early enrollee for the Buckeyes. Despite being two inches shorter and 30 pounds lighter than the incoming Bosa, Cooper looks set to be a force to be reckoned with in the years to come.

While replacing what will likely be the first-overall pick in this spring’s NFL Draft is never easy, Ohio State is equipped to deal with this loss. It may not be one player, but the Scarlet and Gray have the necessary talent to reproduce Bosa’s production moving forward.

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