We’ve all fretted a bit about the defensive line situation after this year and going into the spring, things were looking a bit dire. Anthony Smith left the team, Michael Starts is still probably in school somewhere on campus, but he probably won’t show up. Not only that, but there are seven seniors on the defensive line out of fourteen players, those six players expected to either start of play significant roles.
Defensive Tackle: Rika Levi, Marcus Smith, Keland McElrath.
Defensive End: Branden Jackson, Pete Robertson, Demetrius Alston, and Armani Brumfield.
The big problem has always been that these players will most likely be a huge part of the line playing much of this year in particular, Levi, Smith, McElrath, Jackson, Robertson and Alston.
But with all of those open spots that are disappear it created some opportunities for some various transfers and that means that the defensive line in 2016 will look quite different. The transfers of Ondre Pipkins from Michigan and Kolin Hill from Notre Dame make this defensive line group look much different than just a month ago when I was wondering how this group would figure it out.
Defensive Tackle: Ondre Pipkins, Breiden Fehoko, Broderick Washington, Josh Outlaw (plus any and all commits)
Defensive End: Mike Mitchell, Kolin Hill, Gary Moore, Talor Nunez, Zach Barnes, Lonzell Gilmore (plus any and all commits).
And those commits are currently: JUCO DT Mychealon Thomas (6-2/324), Amarillo’s DT Ivory Jackson (6-4/275), DE Houston Miller (6-4/227), DE Noah Jones (6-5/255), DT Nick McCann (6-2/290), DE Austin Deshay (6-4/230), DT Joe Wallace (6-1/315) and DE Clarence Henderson (6-1/234). That’s four more defensive tackles and four more defensive ends.
There’s no doubt that this team is going to lack experience next year on some level. Whether it be the second team guys not having a ton of experience, but next year this team could have a rotation of Mitchell at the rush end, Fehoko and Outlaw with Moore at defensive end and on the second team, you could run Pipkins and Washington at tackles with Barnes at the rush end and Hill at the defensive end spot.
And in looking at this, that defensive end spot is going to be the toughest one to fill as Gary Moore is a bit undersized and the possible freshmen coming in are of good size, but they’re still freshmen and most likely not ready to take on a full-time role. Another option would be to flip someone like Outlaw to the end spot and see what happens. That’s a lot of size on the frontline, but I sorta like the idea of it.