This should be fun. I’m not going to include any of the freshmen who have committed because I don’t like counting chickens until the hatch. It is rare for a true freshman to make an impact along the defensive line, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see some of them play, I just don’t have a clue at this point. And of course, any one of these players could transfer. It’s more rare in football than in basketball, but they could transfer.
Here are your defensive end candidates:
- Gary Moore (6-5/235): Moore will be a junior next year and he is small for a defensive end. Gibbs has said that he’s strong, but he obviously lacks size.
- Mike Mitchell (6-3/228): Everyone keeps asking about Mitchell and he’s playing special teams, but he’s not getting time. I thought he would be an immediate contributor, but he can’t get on the field and he’s been moved to a defensive end spot.
- Kolin Hill (6-2/235): Hill is the linebacker transfer from Notre Dame and I’m projecting that he’ll play defensive end rather than linebacker, but maybe I’m wrong. If he’s able to add weight in his transfer year, that would help with my concern on the size aspect of the defense.
- Lonzell Gilmore (6-3/217): A true freshman, he had an injury that kept him from even being considered a guy that could play this year. He’s got to add weight and I’m not sure how much he’ll be able to do that if he’s injured.
- Talor Nunez (6-4/256): The former walk-on that was lost for the year relatively early this year. I have no idea what to expect, but I would maybe think that Nunez would be a guy that they might want to start at one end. That’s a crazy statement, but consider what other player has the size to play the strongside defensive end spot?
- Zach Barnes (6-3/229): Barnes is Robertson’s back-up right now. I don’t know how good or great Barnes is and how he’ll play next year. He doesn’t get much, if any, burn for Robertson this year.
My problems with these candidates is that they are all terribly undersized.
Defensive tackle candidates:
- Poet Thomas (6-6/332): The converted offensive lineman, folks were clamoring for Thomas to be moved to defensive tackle earlier, but the depth along the offensive line was so low, that Thomas moving here prior to this year was a risky proposition. His high school film showed a nasty disposition, I’m hopeful that he can be be a part of the rotation.
- Breiden Fehoko (6-3/287): No questions here, right?
- Broderick Washington (6-3/308): From what I’ve heard, the coaches love Washington and they think he is going to be a dude next year. They think he’s going to be a big player for a long time.
- Ondre Pipkins (6-3/330): Pipkins should be a welcome part of the rotation and I’m not getting expectations up too much, but the Michigan transfer needs to lose weight. Played in 13 games as a freshman, 5 games as a sophomore and 5 games as a junior, only registering 9 tackles all year. That’s not a lot of production.
If you want to consider the freshmen, you can check out the exclusive and extraordinary Staking The Plains recruiting table for the 2016 class (shameless plug). There are four defensive tackles, Mychealon Thomas, Ivory Jackson, Nick McCann and Joe Wallace, and four defensive ends, Houston Miller, Noah Jones, Austin Deshay and Clarence Thomas.