The Ohio State football team has a fully loaded defensive line ready to not only control the line of scrimmage, but also dominate it.
“We’ll be as good as anybody in America at defensive end,” Coach Urban Meyer said.
Meyer referenced Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year, redshirt senior Tyquan Lewis, redshirt junior Sam Hubbard, sophomore Nick Bosa, senior Jalyn Holmes and redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones as the five premier defensive linemen on the team.
With such high-profile players returning who have already played significant snaps, a concern is the possibility of complacency. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case for this unit. Lewis said the goal is to be the best defensive line all-time.
“We’re all elite players, so we continue to push one another to the next level,” he said. “That’s what helps us become better and better — it’s a lot of competition between all of us.”
Defensive line coach Larry Johnson said this unit is the best collective group he has had in a long time. He emphasized the closeness of this group by citing the collective bond and love that they share. He said Lewis and Holmes demonstrated this bond by forgoing the NFL Draft to return for their senior seasons.
“The most important thing about these guys (is) they’re unselfish — they’re very unselfish players,” Johnson said. “They don’t care who starts, they don’t care who plays, as long as they play.”
Honorable mention All-Big Ten defensive end Holmes said that the guys on the defensive line do not want to let each other down. He continually emphasized that winning is much more important than playing time.
“We have that bond and we got that chemistry, Holmes said. “And we (are) playing for something bigger than ourselves.”
Johnson referred to the depth of the defensive line and mentioned the improvements he has seen in redshirt sophomore defensive end Rashod Berry, sophomore defensive tackle Robert Landers, redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Jashon Cornell, redshirt freshman defensive tackle Malik Barrow, sophomore defensive end Jonathon Cooper and Honorable Mention All-Big Ten, redshirt senior Michael Hill.
Honorable Mention All-Big Ten defensive end Hubbard played with former Buckeye defensive linemen Joey Bosa and Adolphus Washington, who both started as rookies in the NFL this past season. He said that this current defensive line could be even better as a whole.
“I’ve played with a lot of great individuals. I don’t think, collectively, there’s been this much talent at his position since I’ve been here,” Hubbard said. “We have four guys who could start on any team in the country and we’re all playing together.”
Along with Jones, Meyer said the staff has been thinking of ways of putting the five premier linemen on the field at one time, which would move a defensive end to linebacker. Per Johnson and multiple players, Hubbard has been practicing at the position during spring practice. Nick Bosa also emphasized the importance of getting all of the talent involved.
“We have so many good players,” Bosa said. “It’s criminal to not have them on the field.”