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Ohio State 2017 Spring Positional Preview: Defensive End
By Tony Gerdeman
Everybody's back and a good time will be had by all
Photo by Jim Davidson

Ohio State returns each of their defensive ends from a season ago, and will even add another 5-star prospect into the mix this summer. For now, however, the players they have on campus in the present will more than suffice.

The quartet of crush is back, as Tyquan Lewis, Sam Hubbard, Jalyn Holmes, and Nick Bosa all return for another go round, though there won't be much need for a few of those guys to exert too much energy this spring.

The Players

6 Sam Hubbard (6-5 266) Redshirt Junior
Started every game last season...46 tackles...8.0 tackles for loss...3.5 sacks...honorable mention All-B1G...

11 Jalyn Holmes (6-5 274) Senior
Has never started a game, but is essentially a co-starter given how often he rotates in...honorable mention All-B1G last season...33 tackles...8.5 tackles for loss...2.0 sacks...
13 Rashod Berry (6-4 252) Redshirt Sophomore
Played in 10 games last season...7 tackles...moved over from tight end prior to the 2016 season...
18 Jonathon Cooper (6-3 248) Sophomore
Played in six games last season...six sack...former 5-star prospect...
42 Darius Slade (6-4 258) Redshirt Junior
Has rarely been healthy...
59 Tyquan Lewis (6-4 266) Redshirt Senior
Started all 13 games for the Buckeyes last year...named the B1G Defensive Lineman of the Year...29 tackles...8.0 sacks...10.5 tackles for loss...
97 Nick Bosa (6-4 265) Sophomore
Played in every game last season as part of the four-man defensive end rotation...29 tackles...5.0 sacks...7.0 tackles for loss...has a brother...

The Depth Chart

Defensive End
6 Sam Hubbard OR
11 Jalyn Holmes
18 Jonathon Cooper

Defensive End
59 Tyquan Lewis
97 Nick Bosa
13 Rashod Berry
42 Darius Slade

The Storyline

There's really no silly movie or television show to meld into this storyline because there isn't really any conflict, and you have to have conflict for a truly good story. The storyline here is that Ohio State returns four outstanding defensive ends, and three more that could be, we just haven't been able to see what they can do to this point. So I guess there is at least some mystery, which is nice. But it's the kind of mystery that doesn't involve any of the main characters. Maybe this turns out to be an M. Knight Shyamalan story, and the twist is that Jonathon Cooper and Rashod Berry end up being the best of the bunch. We'd probably have to wait for the sequel in 2018 to find that part out, however.

Three Questions

1. Is there room for more than four guys in the rotation?

2. What will Nick Bosa do in Year Two?

3. What will Jonathon Cooper do with his extended reps this spring?

Best Case Scenario

The best-case scenario this spring is that everybody stays healthy and the older guys get some rest while the younger guys get the reps and blossom because of it. Jonathon Cooper and Rashod Berry are both outstanding athletes with tons of untapped potential, so they'll get a very good opportunity to show what they can do over the 15 spring practices.

Worst Case Scenario

The worst-case scenario would involve injuries, which I apologize for even bringing up. Also, if Cooper and Berry and Darius Slade don't make a jump with significant opportunities this spring, then that would be a severe disappointment for Larry Johnson and the Ohio State defense.

One Good Spring Prediction

Jonathon Cooper leaves the spring with Urban Meyer telling Larry Johnson to get him on the field this season.

One Bad Prediction

Rashod Berry moves back to tight end, but will still be part of the Rushmen Package on third downs.

One Okay Prediction

Tyquan Lewis has a John Simon Spring, which means very limited reps and a whole lot of coaching of his teammates.

Something to Watch For

We saw how good Nick Bosa was as a freshman last season with just a limited fall camp, so it will be interesting to see how much more advanced he is as a sophomore. Since everything he does is compared to his brother, it was Joey Bosa's sophomore year where he reached All-America status. Will we see that same kind of progression from Nick this spring?

Reason for Optimism

Have you not read any words in this piece until now? The Buckeyes have six defensive ends that would start for almost every other Big Ten team. The difficulty here is finding snaps for them all this season, which is exactly the kind of problem coaches strive for when they're out recruiting.

Reason for Pessimism

Um, this is a tough one. I guess the biggest reason for pessimism is the lack of sacks from this group. The Buckeyes were in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten, averaging 2.2 sacks per game, but there weren't a whole bunch of teams willing to let their quarterback just sit back in the pocket and look downfield. Still, a group like this will carry big expectations with it, which means statistics as well as intimidation, so they'd be much happier with more impressive numbers.

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