Caden Curry Ohio State Buckeyes Defensive End

Caden Curry Striving ‘To Touch Greatness’ With Buckeyes

As a sophomore last year, Caden Curry was a key reserve at defensive end for the Buckeyes. He finished the year with nine tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, and two quarterback hurries.

Those numbers weren’t far off from his freshman production of 14 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and 0.5 sacks. But it was his junior year this season where he was expected to emerge as a starter on the Ohio State defensive line

Those plans were thrown for a spin when both of last year’s starting defensive ends JT Tuimoloau and Jack Sawyer opted to return this year for their senior seasons.

With that news, expectations began to grow that either Curry or fellow third-year defensive end Kenyatta Jackson — or both — would look to transfer. After all, how long could they be asked to be a backup instead of a starter?

For one, that kind of thought ignores the fact that Curry played in every game last year. For two, he kind of likes it at Ohio State, playing for defensive line coach Larry Johnson.

“To be honest just all the people around me here,” Curry said this spring when asked why he stayed. “I don’t really see a need to go chase money or chase something else. I want to touch greatness, and I feel like to do that, Coach J is the best coach to do that for me. I’m working around the best guys around me every day. So I just like being here and getting better every day.”

The Setup

There were plenty of conversations among the Ohio State defense about returning, and that involved both the players thinking about the NFL and thinking about the transfer portal.

“We all kind of just came together and we knew we were building something special here,” Curry said. “We know we have a great D-line this year with a lot of talent. So we’re just very excited and we’re just going to keep growing.”

Curry is intent on seeing it all the way through with the Buckeyes. He will have a larger role in this year’s defense because he’s older and more experienced. The expanded season will require more snaps from more players, which is something that he has talked about with head coach Ryan Day.

“I feel like people kind of just see what happens and they don’t know everything that goes into it,” Curry said. “How long the season is now. What you’ve got to do to prepare for it, and what could happen in all that time from here to then. So Coach Day and I connected and we talked man to man and he just set it straight to me and I feel like we both agreed on it and we know we’re making each other better every day.”

So often now, when juniors like Caden Curry are in front of the media and they haven’t yet become a “starter,” eventually the questions get around to “why are you still here.” There is fairness and unfairness to the question. It’s unfair because no player should be pushed out by a reporter, but it’s also a fair question because this is the age of the transfer portal. You can pretend that it doesn’t exist, but it’s one of two options — stay or go.

Even in a story that is supposed to be about Caden Curry’s upcoming junior season, the conversation to this point has been about why he’s still here.

But that’s where college sports are right now. It’s almost a clerical line of questions. “Let’s just get this out of the way first, why are you still here?” Why does Curry think those questions pop up?

“I think it’s a setup,” he said. “I feel like they want to hear you say something that everybody else wants to hear. But I mean, I feel like we all know what we want at the end of the day, and we know it takes time and patience. Trying to jump around and everything, I feel like that just doesn’t help you. That just makes it worse.”

The Reality

The reality of the situation for Caden Curry is that he’s actually happy to be at Ohio State.


“I know I’m going against the best everyday, and I know I’m getting better every day,” he said. “So I mean, I can’t complain. I’ve got the best coaching staff for the D-line and defense. As long as I’m getting better every day and I’m loving what I’m doing, I’ll stay here for as long as I have to be here.”

Now that it’s established that he’s not going anywhere, we can proceed in talking about what this year could look like for the rising junior.

Curry was one of the nation’s top defensive line prospects in the 2022 recruiting class and he’s shown flashes in his opportunities each of the past two seasons. He’s been a valuable reserve for the Buckeyes, and more and more last year he saw time in the defensive end rotation.

That rotation is going to continue this year, and Curry is looking forward to it.

“Yeah, definitely. We’ve talked about that just because there’s more games, you got more opportunities,” he said. “So definitely just being able to get out there and have more of a rotation, and more people are gonna have to play because injuries happen. I mean, knock on wood, it doesn’t happen, but at the end of the day, you’re gonna have to have a two and three, and I feel like we have a great setup right now.”

Caden Curry hasn’t just been patiently waiting his turn. He’s been preparing for it as well. Getting better each year, “perfecting” the toolbox that Larry Johnson likes his players to have. Full of techniques and tools for every occasion.

Along with that, Curry has gotten stronger and faster, but he also had another goal in the offseason.

“One of my big things is being a leader and not just trying to still look up to Jack and JT, and kind of having my own kind of leadership and be able to bring people in too,” he said. “So I feel like we kind of have a lot of leaders on the D line and then at the D-end position. So we kind of all kind of just bounce off each other. It helps.”

The Competition

Caden Curry isn’t counting the days until Jack Sawyer and JT Tuimoloau are off to the NFL, he is making the days count. They are all pushing each other. Kenyatta Jackson, fifth-year senior Mitchell Melton, redshirt freshman Joshua Mickens, and true freshman Eddrick Houston are doing the same.

Nobody signed the scholarship papers to be a spectator, after all.

“It’s been competitive and we love it,” Curry said. “We’re all competitive people. We all love to push each other and I feel like it’s bringing the best out of all of us. I feel like we’re all just kind of bouncing off each other. We see what one person does and we kind of build it into our toolbox and we all just keep building up.”

The Buckeyes are going to go into fall camp with five defensive ends who could start at an awful lot of places. They are talented enough to play. It’s the kind of situation that every coach dreams of having.

Some coaches don’t have to dream, however, because they’ve lived it. Larry Johnson is one of those coaches.

In 2016, the Buckeyes had a defensive end rotation featuring Jalyn Holmes, Sam Hubbard, Nick Bosa, and Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year Tyquan Lewis. In 2017, all four returned, but this time it was Bosa who won the award as the B1G’s best defensive lineman.

It’s a tall order to compare any group of OSU defensive ends to that foursome, but it showcases the possibilities of what can happen when everybody buys in.

How much has Larry Johnson used that group as an example for this group?

“I mean, he hasn’t had to talk about it. We know about it. We’ve seen it every day,” Curry said. “We watch the film. We see them all working together. We know what it could be and we know what we could become. So we know we’re at the right place at the right time.”

Go to discussion...