I've finally committed myself to muster up this preview, but who knows how good it will actually be.
The Defensive line is by far the strength of our defense, seeing as it is our most experienced unit and has more depth than Tressel will know what to do with. It's the only unit on our defense in which all of the starters have legitimate experience. Now anyways, on with the show:
Key Losses: Mike Kudla (UFA - Pittsburgh Steelers)
Marcus Green (UFA - New York Giants)
Projected Starting Ends:
Lawrence Wilson (6-6, 270 lbs), So.
Wilson has had hype all around him ever since he was a nationally ranked high school star in Akron. Now, coming into his second season in Columbus, the hype is once again surrounding this up and coming star from the same high school as LeBron James. The coaches have already been public about how they are expecting big things out of Wilson this season, and the general feeling from the fans in Columbus is that he could very well be the next Will Smith, if not even more dominating than Smith was. Wilson posts a 4.6 40 yard dash time, an impressive stat considering his 270 pound frame. He's actually such a great athlete that he nearly tried to be a two sport star in football and basketball, but instead he has since stuck with football, and it should continue to pay very impressive dividends. He has managed to put on 20 pounds since last year and managed to keep his speed. He has all the tools to become the next great DE, it's only a matter of whether or not he can live up to the hype, and so far, all signs appear to point to yes.
Jay Richardson (6-6, 276 lbs) Sr.
If you've read over most of my posts about all of the other OSU starters, most of them have been these highly recruited, national top 100 types who commit to play before their senior season. This is not so much the case with Richardson. A product of Dublin Scioto High School, Richarson was incredibly under the radar, and was only given a one-star ranking. However, this low ranked kid has turned himself into one of the anchors of Ohio State's defensive line, and could very well be named a team captain this season (he was, after all, a captain in the Scarlet and Gray game). He has been seeing time on the line ever since the 2003 season. Richardson is one of the better pass rushers in the Big 10 today, which is something the conference has lacked ever since Will Smith's departure. When he is healthy, he can be as dominating as any other defensive lineman in the country, and will be a tough block for tackles all season long.
Vernon Gholston (6-4, 260 lbs) So.
Gholston is probably the most freak of an athlete on the entire Buckeye team. According to MotSaG, Gholston can bench press a whopping 455 pounds, and shows outlandish muscle definition which is intimidating in its own right. He also has a ton of speed which will be relied on heavily off the edge. The biggest concern around Gholston is his health, as he has already missed a lot of time in college and his entire Junior year of high school due to injuries. It is expected to be a tight battle between he and Wilson for the starting job, but even though he will most likely lose out, he will still see a ton of playing time with the depth at defensive line.
Doug Worthington (6-7, 274 pounds) RS-Fr.
Worthington was the number two ranked prospect in the entire state of New York coming out of High School and one of the best defensive line prospects in the country. The 5-star player has killer size and speed (it seems I'm saying that a lot so far...), but he injured his knee in Fiesta Bowl practice and had to have surgery on it. He redshirted last year, and should hopefully see significant playing time this season.
Projected Starting Tackles:
Quinn Pitcock (6-3, 295 pounds) Sr.
There aren't many sure things on the Buckeye defense, but Pitcock is one of them. Pitcock is a three year starter out of Piqua, OH, and has had an impact from Day 1. Being a hard nosed defensive tackle doesn't usually add up to a whole heck of a lot in the stat column, but it really doesn't matter when you're drawing double teams on a consistent basis and creating opprotunities for all the other defenders to bust up the play. He's the strongest player on the team, but is quick off the snap. On his recruiting page on Scout.com he was said to be the "best Defensive Tackle out of Ohio in the past decade." Pitcock is what gives this defense hope to be exceptional despite the lack of experience. Without him, the team would be in complete shambles, especially when it comes to stopping the run. He always seems to come up with big plays at the right time (Punt block vs Northwestern last year, key fumble recovery against Purdue in '04 to name two). Some NFL team is going to be lucky to have this guy next season.
David Patterson (6-3, 285 pounds) Sr.
The third senior of the D-Line, Patterson can play either end or tackle, and has seen significant time at both over his collegiate career. Due to his size, however, he maintains a living stopping the inside rush and blowing up short yardage plays. He too has been a starter over the past couple of seasons, and he loves to stop the run (24 tackles last season, compared to only one sack). With Pitcock attracting most of the attention inside, Patterson should find his way to make some very easy tackles this year as he will be blocked mostly head-on.
Joel Penton (6-5, 290 pounds) Sr.
Penton is one of the secret weapons of the defense. He may not be as strong as Pitcock, but he has blazing speed for a tackle. As Tony from MotSaG points out, he could be used in situations in which the offensive line is fatiguing (perhaps towards the end of long drives?) in order to create a ruckus in the defense and make a momentum-changing play. His speed also allows him to play some defensive end as well.