Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, June 16, 2015
The Big Ten East has some strong defensive lines. And none is stronger than Michigan State?s front, led by end Shilique Calhoun. Ohio State has perhaps the Big Ten?s best player on its line in end Joey Bosa.
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Here?s a look at the seven defensive lines in the Big Ten East.
1. Michigan State. You won?t find many better fronts in the nation. End Shilique Calhoun is everybody?s All-American after surprisingly saying ?no? to the NFL and returning for his senior season. Lawrence Thomas is an anchor at the other end after kicking out from his tackle spot to take Marcus Rush?s position. Inside, Joel Heath is a steady vet, while Malik McDowell looks to turn freshman success into sophomore superstardom. The depth for line coach Ron Burton is unmatched with tantalizing redshirt freshman Montez Sweat and Demetrius Cooper leading the charge.
2. Ohio State. Losing tackle Michael Bennett hurts. But end Joey Bosa is back to create more havoc. The junior tallied 13.5 sacks last year and is projected by most to be the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft if he turns pro. Adolphus Washington needs to be the new lynchpin on the interior. This is tackle Tommy Schutt?s last chance to live up to his recruiting hype. Tyquan Lewis is in line to start opposite Bosa. Redshirt freshman end Sam Hubbard has the natives excited. Few line coaches are as good as Larry Johnson.
3. Penn State. First, the good news-the tackle duo of Anthony Zettel and Austin Johnson is terrific. Zettel had 17 TFLs last season. Johnson is a productive grinder. Now, the bad news-ends must be found to replace Deion Barnes and C.J. Olaniyan, who combined for 18 TFLs and nine sacks last season for a defense that ranked No. 3 in America vs. the run (100.5 ypg) in 2014. Line coach Sean Spencer likes the potential of ends Garrett Sickels and Carl Nassib, who arrived on campus as a walk-on.
4. Michigan. This unit has potential, but some pass rushers are needed. The defense will play some 3-4 and 4-3 after being largely a 4-3 unit under Brady Hoke. Lots of experience at tackle with guys like Ryan Glasgow, Willie Henry, Maurice Hurst and Bryan Mone. It?s hoped Mario Ojemudia can be the new pass rusher with Frank Clark gone; fellow end Brennen Beyer also has departed. Redshirt freshman Lawrence Marshall is another possibility. On the strong side, Taco Charlton and converted tackle Chris Wormley are good anchors.
5. Rutgers. This may be the most underrated front in the Big Ten. End David Milewski has departed, but the tackle tandem of Darius Hamilton and Sebastian Joseph is formidable, though Hamilton remains a bit undersized. There are good options at end with Kemoko Turay, Julian Pinnix-Odrick, Quanzell Lambert and Djwany Mera. Turay is coming off a sensational debut as a pass rusher. How good is he gonna be? This group must help the defense shave the 212.3 yards per game it allowed rushing in 2014.
6. Indiana. The front three could be salty even with Bobby Richardson gone. Nick Mangieri is moving back to end after playing outside linebacker last year. Tackle Darius Latham could be primed for a breakout after arriving in Bloomington amid big hype. Adarius Rayner and Nate Hoff will share the nose tackle spot. The beefy Rayner can get a push, while Hoff was a productive freshman last season. If Indiana wants to make a push to its first bowl since 2007, this group must help improve a 3-4 defense that ranked 81st in the nation vs. the run last year (182.7 ypg).
7. Maryland. The Terrapins are running a new 4-3 scheme, so the personnel must fit the alignment. The unit must help trim the 201.9 average yards rushing Maryland yielded in 2014 that ranked 97th in the nation. The front has a big-time pass rusher in Yannick Ngakoue, who has moved from linebacker to a hybrid ?bandit? spot on the end. Intense Roman Braglio is next to Ngakoue. He had 13.5 TFLs last season. Quinton Jefferson has moved from end to tackle, where he will play with David Shaw. Depth is thin for line coach Chad Wilt, whose group lost star tackle Andre Monroe, nose man Darius Kilgo and end Keith Bowers.
|About Tom Dienhart||BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.|