Yay. Ohio State reigns. Oh well. Of the 12 players on the 2016 All-Big Team (coaches) who were DT’s or DE’s, 80% are off to the NFL or graduated. On the hype-scale, we’re starting over a bit, save for the two OSU defensive ends.
There are some big-time recruits who have joined the mix of B1G defensive ends, but hell, we’re a linebacker conference. Let’s take a look at the Defensive End position in the Big Ten during 2017. Who are the studs? Any breakout stars on the horizon or up and coming freshmen deserving attention?
1) Tyquan Lewis, Defensive End, Ohio State
Why did he return in 2017? No seriously, why? Didn’t he get tired of pile-driving poor offensive linemen? Eight sacks and known for being a leader among teammates...He’s by far the most well-known and feared DE returning in 2017. Was also the 2016 Defensive Lineman of the Year in the B1G.
2) Sam Hubbard, Defensive End, Ohio State
One of those athletic freaks who is inexplicably everywhere on the field. A TFL-machine. Vicious one-on-one. Obviously a key to an OSU defense that excelled (15.5 ppg allowed) at run stuffing and pressuring quarterbacks.
3) EVERYONE ELSE
Conor Sheehy, Wisconsin. High-energy guy. Gritty. Hard worker. Nope, no one knows who he is because he plays in a defensive system that rewards its linebackers with SportsCenter highlights as the D-Linemen take up blocks and plug holes.
Rashan Gary, Michigan. Played well and showed flashes of brilliance in 2016, but was a true frosh on the deepest line in the Big Ten...so the hype-meter got turned down a bit. Struggled with consistently making the smart play on every down, getting (admittedly) frustrated over mistakes. With Taco Charlton and Chris Wormley gone, will be in a starring role.
Shareef Miller, Penn State.
AJ Epenesa, Iowa. God what a monster.