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Ohio Football Spring Practice Position Spotlight - Defensive Line

Ohio Football Spring Practice Position Spotlight - Defensive Line

Gone: Cleon Aloese, Tony Porter, Kevin Robbins, Trent Smart, Matt Rowe, Wyatt Shallman 

Returning: Brian Arp, Kent Berger, Kaieem Caesar, Chukwudi Chukwu, Marcus Coleman, Austin Conrad, Andrew Cree II, Will Evans, Keith Key, Michael Massinople, Sam McKnight, Amir Miller, Amos Ogun-Semore, Andrew Payne

Arriving: Cole Baker (JUCO Transfer, Spring '18), Zach Burks (JUCO Transfer, Spring '18), Juan Watkins (class of '17 signee), Antrez Baker (class of '18 signee), Kylen McCracken (class of '18 signee), Bryce Stai (class of '18 signee),

Analysis

Arguably the hardest hit position group for the Ohio football team is the defensive line where the Bobcats lost its entire starting lineup to graduation following the 2017 season. Gone are defensive ends Kevin Robbins and Trent Smart and interior lineman Tony Porter and Cleon Aloese who played in all 13 games last season.

Ohio's rushing defense ranked 10th in the country and first in the MAC holding opponents to just 110.5 rushing yards per game and an average of 3.5 yards per carry. Ohio also ranked ninth in the country in third down conversion percentage defense, holding opponents to just a 29.9% conversion rate.

Brian Arp, Kent Berger, Austin Conrad, Chukwudi Chukwu, Will Evans, and Andrew Payne all saw extensive action last season and look to be the backbone of the group coming back.  Also in the mix will be Keith Key and Sam McKnight who missed parts of last season with injuries.

Payne and Berger had the most production out of the returners from last season notching 20 and 19 tackles, respectively. Payne also had 4.5 tackles for loss including three sacks, a quarterback hurry and a fumble recovery. Berger had four tackles for loss with two sacks and four quarterback hurries while also notching a blocked kick. 

Ohio has a young crop of defensive lineman that sat out last season and will be looking to break into the rotation. Kaieem Caesar, Marcus Coleman, Andrew Cree II, Amir Miller and Amos Ogun-Semore all sat out last season and will be looking to get on the field this fall 

To bolster the group coming back, Ohio signed two junior college transfer defensive lineman in Cole Baker and Zach Burks while also bringing in four freshmen in the fall.

Quote from Pete Germano – Assistant Coach/Defensive Line

"Spring has been going well, I am happy with the guys effort and focus. We have been putting in some new things and they have done a decent job of grasping those things and the effort has been there and the focus has been there. I have seen improvement from practice one to practice 14 and that is all I can ask for."