As a true freshman in 2022, Ohio State defensive end Caden Curry played in every game for the Buckeyes, but the bulk of his action came on special teams. He saw snaps on defense, but never in OSU’s biggest games. That will be changing next season.
Ohio State is losing three defensive ends from the 2022 team, and outside of rising juniors JT Tuimoloau and Jack Sawyer, the only other player with any real experience is Curry.
Curry posted 14 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and 0.5 sacks this past season, but that was just scratching the surface for what is to come.
“He’s relentless and he’s active,” said OSU defensive line coach Larry Johnson. “He plays really hard. He’s physical. He may be 245 or 250, but he plays like he’s 270, which is what I love about him.”
Curry has been lauded for his non-stop motor long before he arrived at Ohio State. As an undersized defensive tackle as a high school junior, he dominated his competition at the point of attack. As a senior, he moved outside to defensive end and posted 65 tackles, 24 tackles for loss, and seven sacks. In his career, he finished with 290 tackles, 83.5 tackles for loss, and 28 sacks.
But there is still quite a difference between effort on the high school level and the kind of effort that is needed at the college level. Being relentless doesn’t just happen, after all.
“It’s an acquired skill. It’s something you have to adapt to,” Johnson said. “How you play in high school is different than how you play now. It’s different. The speed is different. And then once they figure that out, it becomes more automatic. That’s what he did early on to try to find out how to do that. A light then goes on like, ‘Okay, I understand what it takes now.'”
For Curry, that consistency of effort at Ohio State didn’t start on the practice field, but it eventually carried over.
“Just being in the weight room every day,” Curry said of where he first started to gain consistency as a rookie. “Working on myself to get better and get my weight up so I can be at the best level in here. And then just run to the ball. Getting everywhere and just controlling what I can control.”
Despite a background at defensive tackle, neither Johnson nor Curry see him sliding inside to defensive tackle on passing downs any time soon. They both prefer what he brings to the edge of the defense instead.
“For me, I feel like I have speed. I like to keep my speed up on the outside,” Curry said. “Just playing fast and really just trying to get to the ball as quick as I can. Causing havoc is what I really like to do.”
Curry added about 15 pounds during the course of his freshman season, and was playing at around 250 pounds at the end of the year. He wants to be at 260-265 pounds as a sophomore, and believes he will get there.
“I can just keep going up,” he said. “As long as I can keep my speed, I’ll just keep gaining as much as I can.”
With as much as Larry Johnson likes to rotate his defensive linemen, Caden Curry is going to be on the field quite a bit in 2023. Both are expecting him to be a different player than he was as a freshman, but just as fast and just as relentless.
“He’s so quick on his first step,” Johnson said. “He’s got movement skills that you kind of shake your head at because of the ways he can get his body in and out of stuff. Caden is very talented and I think he’s going to be a handful next year.”