“In the time of darkest defeat, victory may be nearest.” ~ William McKinley
I have to give some props to President McKinley. Born in Niles, Ohio, McKinley was the last American President to have served in the military in The Civil War, so McKinley certainly knew what he was talking about when it came to defeats and victory.
To say that the 2016 Ohio State football season ended with a thud is an understatement. While I certainly believed Clemson was capable of defeating Ohio State in The 2016 Fiesta Bowl, I never thought Ohio State would be so thoroughly outplayed, and, let’s be honest Ohio State fans, outcoached.
As badly as I felt about that loss on New Year’s Eve, the Ohio State coaches and players felt the sting of that loss much more so. Dramatic overhauls along the coaching staff, combined with early departures of players for the 2017 NFL Draft, have Ohio State with questions to answer as spring football begins in Columbus on March 7th.
For the next several weeks, I will be writing position group previews, leading up to the Ohio State Spring Football Game in Ohio Stadium on April 15th, 2017. These position groups will be ranked, from least to most concern, as I perceive them. It is entirely possible that my concerns, as well as the coaching staff’s concerns, will be reevaluated after the spring game.
10th ~ Defensive Line
Players Lost: None. As I write this, all of the defensive linemen on the official roster are slated to be on the 2017 team. It is entirely possible that some transfers may take place before, during, or after spring practice concludes on April 15th.
Returning Players/Incoming Players: Joshua Alabi (Redshirt Sophomore), Malik Barrow (Redshirt Freshman), Nick Bosa (Sophomore), Rashod Berry (Redshirt Sophomore), Jerron Cage (Freshman), Jonathon Cooper (Sophomore), Jashon Cornell (Redshirt Sophomore), Haskell Garrett (Freshman), Davon Hamilton (Redshirt Sophomore), Michael Hill (Redshirt Senior), Jalyn Holmes (Redshirt Junior), Sam Hubbard (Redshirt Junior), Dre’Mont Jones (Redshirt Sophomore), Robert Landers (Redshirt Sophomore), Tyquan Lewis (Redshirt Senior), Darius Slade (Redshirt Junior), Tracy Sprinkle (Redshirt Senior), Dylan Thompson (Redshirt Junior), Chase Young (Freshman)
A few things to keep in mind as it relates to this position group…
- Darius Slade, Tracy Sprinkle, and Dylan Thompson all fall into a category of returning players, but for different reasons. Slade ruptured his Achilles tendon before the season started and missed all of 2016. Tracy Sprinkle suffered an injury to his patellar tendon early in the first game of the 2016 season against Bowling Green, and was out the remainder of the season. Dylan Thompson was academically ineligible for 2016. It will bear watching to see how much Slade and Sprinkle participate in spring football. Thompson has played sparingly throughout his Ohio State career, due to injuries.
- While Ohio State was able to land Jerron Cage, Haskell Garrett, and Chase Young as recruits in 2017, none of the three are among the early enrollees for spring football.
- While Tyquan Lewis and Sam Hubbard were listed as starters throughout most of the 2016 season, will Nick Bosa emerge with more playing time in 2017? Bosa was arguably the crown jewel recruit of the 2016 recruiting class.
- Even if the true freshmen are taken out of the equation, Ohio State has sixteen defensive linemen possibly participating in spring football practice. The tremendous depth, and returning talent, are the reasons why I ranked this position group as the one I am least concerned about heading into the 2017 season.
The 2016 Ohio State football season did not end on a positive note. Spring practices in 2017 can show the Ohio State coaches, players, and fans that the 2017 season will not end in a similar fashion.