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Ohio State Season Preview: Defensive Line

Posted By Jimmy Martinez On Jul 16 2012 @ 5:58 pm In Ohio State | 1 Comment

When asked about the offensive line, Coach Mike Vrabel kept no secrets about his unit with his response “We’re gonna be good”

“A sign of a true, great player is that they’re going to compete,” Vrabel said. “And they may not win, but they’re willing to compete and we’ve got guys who are willing to compete and fight.”

Ohio State’s defensive line is tops in the Big Ten, and for sure top 10 in the country, this season, anchored by Johnathan Hankins and John Simon, both of which are an absolute force up front. The line is talented and experienced, and there shouldn’t be much drop off in coaching styles either as Fickell will be the co-DC this season. This unit will be where the defense claims its name to fame this season.

Coach Urban Meyer’s two deep at the end of spring was as followed: (starter/backup) LE #54 John Simon/#50 JT Moore, DT #52 Johnathan Hankins/#63 Michael Bennett, NT #53 Garrett Goebel/#51 Joel Hale, DE #43 Nathan Williams/#93 Adam Bellamy. That much talent and experience is sure to cause chaos for B1G offenses, especially since heralded freshman recruits Noah Spence, Tommy Schutt, Adolphus Washington, and Se’von Pittman haven’t even factored into the equation yet.

Senior John Simon (6-2, 260) has been a renowned workout warrior since his arrival, earning playing time right away as a true freshman in 2009. He has played in all 39 games in his career and earned immediate and effusive praise from Meyer. “A warhorse; he is Ohio State football,” Meyer said. “He is ‘Tebowish’ in terms of his commitment.” Last season, Simon racked up 16 tackles for loss, including seven sacks. Though he came to OSU more as a strong-side end (and looked as if he could bulk up and play inside), Meyer now has him in the team’s rush-end spot.

Inside, junior Johnathan Hankins (6-4, 317) is starting to look like a prototypical SEC-type tackle with which Meyer is familiar: Huge but still athletic. Hankins emerged last year in his first season as a starter, posting an impressive 67 tackles, including 11 for loss.

The big question is whether fifth-year senior Nathan Williams (6-3, 249) will return from two knee surgeries last season that forced him to redshirt. Before his injury, he was one of the team’s best pass rushers, recording 21.5 career tackles for loss and 10 sacks.

Noah Spence (6-4, 240) will arrive in the fall and is expected to contribute right away providing the Buckeyes with an elite speed rush off the edge. Out of Bishop McDevitt in Harrisburg, PA Spence was ranked as the #1 DE in the country and #9 overall player. Combined with the #2 DE in the country and #25 overall player, Adolphus Washington out of Taft in Cincinnati, OH, the Buckeyes have great depth.

Overall Grade: A+

Overall this unit is easily the strongest unit of the Defense. There is great depth and proven talent along with a lot of experience, making this a unit to watch out for.

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