JT Tuimoloau Ohio State Buckeyes Defensive End

Spring Recap: Veteran Defensive Ends Provide Many Options

With spring football now in the rearview mirror for Ohio State, it’s time to look back at what happened with each position group and where things currently stand for the Buckeyes. We continue our series with the defensive ends.

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Quick Position Overview

Jack Sawyer and JT Tuimoloau put the NFL on hold to return for their senior seasons. Juniors Caden Curry and Kenyatta Jackson passed on the transfer portal when they could have left and found starting jobs somewhere else. Fifth-year senior Mitchell Melton has dealt with injuries but is healthy. Redshirt freshman Joshua Mickens and true freshman Eddrick Houston have tons of potential.

Expectations Going In

The expectations going in were that Jack Sawyer and JT Tuimoloau were going to get about as much work as the school principal when they have to step in as a substitute teacher for an afternoon. They didn’t quite roll out the TV and VCR and throw on an episode of NOVA, but it also wasn’t 15 practices of hell. This spring was much more important for everybody else.

Reality Coming Out

The reality coming out is that JT Tuimoloau and Jack Sawyer led the room as expected. Caden Curry, Kenyatta Jackson, and Mitchell Melton performed like the veterans they need to be. The youngsters got just a little bit older.

Any Surprises?

It is difficult for there to be any surprises when your top two defensive ends are extremely well known and the next three defensive ends behind them have always produced in practice. Is it a copout to say that the surprise here is that there’s no surprise? Or is it okay to just say there weren’t any surprises. After all, the category is phrased as a question, not “Tell Us The Surprises.”

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Unanswered Question

Will Larry Johnson be able to rotate like he needs to? JT Tuimoloau and Jack Sawyer dominated the snap numbers last season because Johnson didn’t feel like Caden Curry and Kenyatta Jackson were ready for more reps. If they’re not ready as juniors, then something went wrong this spring.

So Now What?

Now we will see what happens with the Jack position. We didn’t see the hybrid defensive end/linebacker used during the spring, though we did see a five-man front in the spring game with four defensive ends and a nose tackle. As defensive coordinator Jim Knowles mulls things over and looks for a way to get Mitchell Melton and linebacker CJ Hicks in their best positions to succeed, we may see some action here in fall camp.

One Concern

There aren’t really any concerns with this year’s group of defensive ends, but there is hardly any young depth on this roster. Not knowing whether incoming freshman Dominick Kirks is going to be a defensive end or defensive tackle doesn’t help, but outside of the five veterans, there are only two other defensive ends in redshirt freshman Joshua Mickens and true freshman Eddrick Houston. It’s a very top-heavy room.

Eddrick Houston Ohio State Buckeyes Defensive End
Eddrick Houston

Are We Sure?

Are we sure that Eddrick Houston isn’t going to work his way into the rotation this season? The top four defensive ends on the roster may be the best top four in the nation, so breaking into that group is going to be difficult. But we do know that the coaches want to play their young depth as much as possible early in the season during Ohio State’s lackluster non-conference schedule. Houston and Joshua Mickens should have their opportunities to prove themselves and perhaps make the top four or five a top six.


“I think that when you come here and you expect to hit the field, and it to be a certain way, it’s hard to get over that for a little bit. And I think you can look at kind of all of us on the D line, as a front, we all kind of had our own journey to how we’re playing right now. Now it’s just all about building and not looking back and playing how we know how to play and being confident out there and using our abilities that God’s given us. So I think that this whole next year you’re just gonna see a whole different level of play from all of us.” — Jack Sawyer on the results maybe not matching the expectations on the defensive line over the years.

Depth Chart

44 JT Tuimoloau, Sr AND
33 Jack Sawyer, Sr
92 Caden Curry, Jr AND
97 Kenyatta Jackson, rSoph
17 Mitchell Melton, rSr
52 Joshua Mickens, rFr OR
96 Eddrick Houston, Fr

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