Defensive end: Joey Bosa, Rashad Frazier
Defensive tackle: Michael Bennett, Chris Carter
Defensive tackle: Adolphus Washington, Tommy Schutt
Defensive end: Noah Spence, Steve Miller
Insight: The defensive line is where the Ohio State football team’s biggest strength lies. They return all four starters and backups, and Adolphus Washington is now playing at 100%.
Joey Bosa is the leader of this group, exploding onto the scene last year as a freshman. He, Bennett, and Spence all have All-Big Ten potential, and the combination and depth of the defensive line will be a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks.
Weak side linebacker: Josh Perry, Trey Johnson
Middle linebacker: Curtis Grant, Raekwon McMillan
Strong side linebacker: Darron Lee, Chris Worley
Insight: Ryan Shazier is gone to the NFL, and that would be a big blow to any team, but the Buckeyes linebackers look even better this year.
Young talent has stepped up to fill the void. Freshman Darron Lee has won a starting spot and freshman Raekwon McMillan will have a big impact as well. Returning starters Curtis Grant and Josh Perry will have to take charge and lead this group of young linebackers. Grant in particular will have a huge role this season, and he will be looked at as the leader of this defense. It is a job that comes with a lot of responsibilities, but Grant looks poise to improve this defense from a season ago.
Cornerback: Doran Grant, Gareon Conley
Cornerback: Armani Reeves, Eli Apple
Safety: Tyvis Powell, Erick Smith
Safety: Vonn Bell, Cam Burrows
Insight: The secondary is an interesting topic for Ohio State. Last season they looked as though they were going to be great, but they got torn apart. This season, the secondary again looks to be pretty solid, but it is young and inexperienced.
Doran Grant and Tyvis Powell are locks to start, but there are a couple position battles ongoing in the secondary. At corner, a battle is brewing between Armani Reeves, Eli Apple, and Gareon Conley. Reeves entered the spring as the favorite, and I believe he wins the job because of experience.
At safety, Vonn Bell and Cam Burrows battle it out for the final starting spot. This comes as a little bit of a surprise, as Bell seemed to be a lock entering the spring. I still believe he wins the job, but Burrows has obviously proven that he can play, and he will earn playing time this season.
Last year, the Buckeyes’ secondary was the biggest reason for the collapse at the end of the season. This year, the question marks remain, but I believe this young group will come together and silence all the critics early on. If this group plays up to their potential, along with the rest of the defense, look for the Buckeyes to be playing in the first college football playoffs.