May 12, 2013

Spring grades: defensive end

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- With spring practice now in the books, we find ourselves just three months away from the opening of Urban Meyer's second fall camp as the head coach at Ohio State. With that in mind, we're taking a look back at what we've seen and learned from each position group throughout this offseason, continuing with today's look at the Buckeyes' defensive ends.




Spring grade: A



Perhaps no unit this spring shined like Ohio State's defensive ends did. Despite having to replace the Big Ten's Defensive Player of the Year in John Simon and a fifth-year senior in Nathan Williams, the Buckeyes feel better than ever about their current pass-rushers, thanks to a duo of talented sophomores.



Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington made their presence felt during OSU's spring game, tallying a combined seven sacks in the annual exhibition. Both players find themselves firmly entrenched in the Buckeyes' starting lineup, and that won't change for at least the next two seasons.



Spring surprise: Adolphus Washington



While Spence, a former five-star prospect, was expected to have this sort of spring, the same can't be said for Washington. After spending last season backing up Johnathan Hankins at defensive tackle, the Cincinnati native was moved back outside to strong-side defensive end this spring, and the transition couldn't have gone any better for him.



Playing in front of his hometown crowd in the spring game, Washington stole the show, tallying four sacks inside of Cincinnati's Paul Brown Stadium. Replacing Simon is certainly no easy task, but Washington seems to be doing as good of a job as anybody could've asked.



To be determined: Will they rotate?



While Washington and Spence are entrenched as the Buckeyes' starting defensive ends, it remains to be seen how often they'll come off the field this fall. J.T. Moore, Jamal Marcus, Steve Miller, and Tyquan Lewis will all provide depth, but each would offer a significant drop-off from the production that Washington and Spence are expected to provide.



One thing that the Buckeyes certainly do possess on their line is versatility. At one point during the spring game, the OSU coaching staff put Marcus on the field alongside Washington and Spence, in a lineup that wreaked havoc on the Buckeyes' signal-callers.



Looking ahead: Joey Bosa



Joining the fray this fall at defensive end will be one of Meyer's more prized recruits from the 2013 class, four-star prospect Joey Bosa. A native of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Bosa seems like a natural fit at the LEO position, and could crack the Buckeyes' rotation by the end of fall camp.



As Ohio State fans know all too well, Meyer won his two national championships at Florida with dominant defensive ends who put constant pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Bosa fits that mold, and the OSU coaching staff will find a way to get him on the field, regardless of who it's alongside.







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