Ohio State Preview 2006 - Defense
Ohio State Buckeyes
Preview 2006 - Ohio State Defense
What you need to know ...
Ohio State loses a slew of superstars and top NFL draft picks
from the nation's number five defense, but it's unlikely to slip
much with a tremendous array of athletes ready to step in.
There's no reason whatsoever to worry about the back seven that
has to replace all its starters. The secondary looked fantastic
at times this spring with enough 4.4 speedsters to keep the NFL
scouts drooling, but it has to come up with more than the six
interceptions last year's crew helped pick off. The linebacking
corps has seven good options to rotate with a good mix of
hard-nosed run stoppers to speedy outside defenders. The line
needs to come up with a steady pass rush, but that's nitpicking;
All-America tackle Quinn Pitcock and the boys will be a rock
against the run.
Tackles: Malcolm Jenkins, 37
Sacks: David Patterson, 4
Interceptions: Brandon Mitchell, 1
Star of the defense: Senior DT Quinn Pitcock
Player that has to step up and become a star: Senior DE
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore CB Malcolm Jenkins
Best pro prospect: Pitcock
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Pitcock, 2) Jenkins, 3)
LB Marcus Freeman
Strength of the defense: Speed and athleticism
Weakness of the defense:
Pass rushing ends
This might be a bit of a no-name front
four, and there aren't any sure-fire proven pass rushers, but this
should be a rock against the run. It all starts in the middle with
All-America candidate Quinn Pitcock at tackle, while David Patterson
will be a solid running mate moving inside after starting last year at end. There'll be a nice rotation at each spot if sophomore ends Alex Barrow and
Vernon Gholston become players. Lawrence Wilson might be the end who solves the pass rushing issues.
The key to the unit: Get in the backfield from all
four spots. Stopping the run won't be an issue, so there has to be plays
made in the backfield on a consistent basis from anyone who's not
Defensive Line Rating: 8
- DE Lawrence Wilson, Soph. - 2 tackles
Wilson popped up at end with David Patterson moving to tackle full-time.
A tall 6-6 specimen, Wilson is the speed rusher the line desperately
needs. It'll be his job to be a disruptive force in
the backfield and be a big play defender.
- DT David Patterson, Sr. - 24 tackles, 4 sacks, 7.5 TFL
Part end, part tackle, the 6-3, 285-pound senior should be a strong
interior pass rusher and could move around where needed. He's a strong
run stopper with enough experience to be a leader of the front seven.
- DT Quinn Pitcock, Sr. - 28 tackles, 1 sack, 3 TFL
One of only two returning starters, Pitcock should be one of the Big
Ten's best defenders and an All-American candidate. He has the speed to
be a dangerous end, but at 6-3, 295 pounds he's a true tackle. While
he's not flashy and he isn't going to get his name called a lot, he'll
require two blockers on every down.
- DE Jay Richardson, Sr. - 11 tackles, 2 sacks
A big, serviceable end, the 6-6, 276-pound senior will be decent against
the run, but any sacks he comes up with will be by accident. He works
hard to get into the backfield, but he's not fast and he isn't going to
make sacks in waves. Even so, he's a good leader who's always going
- DE Alex Barrow, Soph. - 3 tackles
While he wasn't ever considered a high-end prospect and he still needs
plenty of work, he has been good in practices and has grown into a solid
combination of size and speed. At 6-4 and 255 pounds, he should be good
against the run, and he should be a better pass rusher than Jay
- DT Joel Penton, Sr. - 12 tackles, 1.5 TFL
A near-perfect backup tackle, the 6-5, 290-pound senior is strong,
active, and comes into games with a major attitude. While he has added
plenty of weight over the last few years, he's still quick enough to
potentially be a better pass rusher.
- DE Vernon Gholston, Soph. - 1 tackle
Problems with injuries limited him last year, but the 6-4, 260-pound
sophomore has a world of upside. Once healthy, he'll be a key part of
the rotation as a much bigger option than Lawrence Wilson.
While you don't get better by losing A.J.
Hawk, Anthony Schlegel and Bobby Carpenter, the Buckeye linebacking
corps might not take a huge dip in overall production with a tremendous
cast of talents. Marcus Freeman, true freshman Ross Homan, and JUCO
transfer Larry Grant would form one of the nation's most talented
linebacking trios if it was just them, then factor in John Kerr and Mike
D'Andrea in the middle, surprise starter James Laurinaitis on the
strongside, and speedster Curtis Terry in a backup role, and there will
be no need to shed any tears for losing an All-NFL group.
The key to the unit: Everyone has to stay healthy.
Freeman and D'Andrea have to prove they can hold up, and Homan and Grant
have to be at least half as good as their hype.
Linebacker Rating: 8
- Marcus Freeman, Soph.
The superstar recruit of a few years ago appeared ready to make a huge
impact even with all the stars in last year's linebacking corps, but he
suffered a knee injury and missed the season. He's 230 pounds and fast,
fast, fast on the weakside. This might sound like blasphemy, but if he's
100% healthy, he might be almost, almost, as good as A.J. Hawk. He has that kind of talent.
- John Kerr, Sr. - 14 tackles
One of the Big Ten's most active tacklers making 114 stops in 2002 as an
Indiana Hoosier, Kerr was lost in the shuffle as a Buckeye. He's not
tall and he's not fast, but he's a tough hitter who should be great at
plugging holes and amassing stats. If you want big plays, look to the
other linebackers. Kerr will be a rock who simply makes plays.
- James Laurinaitis, Soph. - 9 tackles
Laurinaitis came from out of nowhere to grow into a contributor as last
season went on. While he's not nearly the athlete many of the other
Buckeye linebackers are, and he could have major problems holding off
Larry Grant, he has good toughness on the strongside.
- Mike D'Andrea, Sr.
One of the most team's most heralded recruits over the last several
years, D'Andrea has never had any luck staying healthy. He has the
talent, the 6-3, 248-pound size, and speed, but he hasn't progressed as
much as he should've. While he has a high-octane motor and he certainly
doesn't lack for effort, he needs to have a big season or his career will go down
as a major disappointment.
- Curtis Terry, Jr. - 2 tackles
A speedster on the outside. he's more like a big defensive back at 6-2
and 220 pounds playing behind James Laurinaitis on the strongside. While
he should be fantastic in pass coverage and good as a pass rusher, he
has to prove he can hold up against the run.
- Ross Homan, Fr.
The team's top defensive recruit this year is expected to find a spot
somewhere. He's big enough to play in the middle, and fast enough to be
a huge weakside linebacker. At 6-2 and 242 pounds, he's an imposing
figure with unlimited range.
- Larry Grant, Jr.
Originally a running back coming out of his school, the 225-pound JUCO
All-American has 4.4 speed and should make a big impact on the outside.
He was unstoppable for City College of San Francisco and should add an
instant dash of attitude and athleticism to the corps.
Everyone is focusing on replacing all the
star linebackers, but all four starting defensive backs are also gone.
This is Ohio State, so there are tall, 4.4 speed defenders to burn. In
one of the surprises of spring ball, the group looked like it was full
of seasoned veterans instead of a green group of newcomers. Corner
Malcolm Jenkins is the best looking new starter with size and lock-down
speed, but he's not the only big-time athlete ready to shine. Sophomores
Nick Patterson and Jamario O'Neal would be the fastest corners on most
teams, but they're safeties at Ohio State. Expect good competition this
fall for every job but Jenkins' spot at left corner.
The key to the unit: Don't try to be unbelievable
right away. The Buckeye secondary should be able to get by on its
athleticism against just about everyone, so as long as there's not a lot
of gambling going on and everyone can do what they can to develop,
everything should be fine.
Secondary Rating: 8
- CB Malcolm Jenkins, Soph. - 37 tackles, 2 broken up
The team's new star defensive back, the 6-1, 180-pound Jenkins has
excellent speed and is a tough one-on-one defender taking over for Tyler
Everett. He has 4.4 speed winning the New Jersey state title in the 200
and 400 meter dash. Now he should pull it all together and quickly grow
into an All-Big Ten talent.
- FS Nick Patterson, Soph. - 6 tackles
Patterson is locked in a battle with Brandon Mitchell for the starting
free safety spot. At 6-2 ad 210 pounds, he has great size with 4.4 speed
and athleticism. He ended up seeing a little bit of time as a redshirt
freshman on special teams and has been a big hitter in practices.
- SS Jamario O'Neal, Soph. - 2 tackles
O'Neal got on the field as a true freshman as a special teamer, and now
he has to replace Donte Whitner. He's fast enough to see a little time
as a kick returner and could be moved to corner if needed. He is a
physical tackler who has all the tools to grow into the job over the
next few years.
- CB Antonio Smith, Sr. - 6 tackles, 1 broken up pass
While he's not that big, the 5-9, 195-pound senior is tough enough to
have seen time at strong safety and quick enough to grow into a role at
right corner. He's going to have to battle hard to keep the starting job
coming out of spring ball, but he should put up some good numbers with
teams staying away from Malcolm Jenkins.
- FS Brandon Mitchell, Sr. - 12 tackles, 1
Mitchell is neck-and-neck with Nick Patterson for the starting free
safety job. He's one of the team's most experienced defensive backs with
eight career starts and plenty of time as a reserve. He's 6-3 and 205
pounds with excellent speed, but he's not as physical as Patterson.
- SS Anderson Russell, RFr.
Yet another speedy Ohio State defensive back, Russell is a physical
hitter who'll be a major part of the mix after having a great spring.
While he doesn't have the combination of skills that Jamario O'Neal has,
he's good enough to grow into a starter.
- CB Donald Washington, RFr.
A very smart, very athletic corner, he's a taller option than Antonio
Smith on the right side than Antonio Smith with better speed and leaping
ability. All he needs it a little bit of experience.
As long as Ryan Pretorius and Aaron Pettrey can be
adequate field goal kickers, the OSU special teams will be excellent.
A.J. Trapasso is on the verge of being an all-star punter once he
becomes a bit more consistent. Ted Ginn Jr. is one of the elite kick
returners in college football averaging 29.6 yards per kickoff return
and 10 yards per punt return last season. The coverage units are great.
The key to the unit: One of the young placekickers
doesn't have to be Mike Nugent or Josh Huston, but being reliable within
40 yards will be a must.
Special Teams Rating: 8
- PK Ryan Pretorius, Soph.
It'll be a battle all fall between Pretorius and Aaron Pettrey to try to
replace the steady Josh Huston. While Pettrey has a the better leg and
could be used on the bombs, Pretorius was the steadier of the two this
- P A.J. Trapasso, Soph. - 43 punts, 1,738 yds, 40.4 yards per
kick, 19 inside the 20
Trapasso had a tremendous first season considering he was a freshman. He
showed he could air it out with a 76-yard blast, but he also showed he
could consistently hang it up in the air and place it inside the 20. He
wasn't always on, but that will change after a year of experience.