As you know, we have some questions up front after graduating some key pieces. We know a sure fire starter is Lorenzo Neal. But, who the hell are going to fill the other three spots on the defensive line?
Will freshman be forced into action? Probably, we are bringing in a solid class of freshman as well.
The defense is going to be young, but we are going to continue to get more athletic and much quicker on that side of the ball. Something that has been evident with the recruiting classes that the coaches are putting together.
So, what will the depth chart look like? Here is my best guess.
Defensive End: Giovanni Reviere - Chattanooga, Tennessee, Redshirt Freshman
Defensive Tackle: Anthony Watts - Houston, Texas, Sophomore
Nose Tackle: Lorenzo Neal Jr. - Houston, Texas, Junior
Rush End: Kai Higgins - Pomona, California, Junior
It is amazing what a college weight room has done for a guy like Reviere. He came in at 230 Pounds with that 6’5” frame and is now 270 (!). That is one year in the weight room. I think he is more of the defensive end mold, he is so strong now. He also gets after the QB, he will be hard to keep off the field.
Watts played in some games last year as a reserve. The young defensive tackle has some nice upside and he is a solid piece to put in the 3 tech. He may not put up huge numbers, but he is a smart player that will do his job.
Neal will be a three year starter this year. He is the lone starter from last years defensive line that will be back for this season. Neal does a great job as the nose tackle and taking on multiple offensive lineman to let our linebackers make plays. He will play on Sundays.
I am unsure with the rush end spot. Last year we slid Danny E down there to fill that role, but, we do not have enough linebackers to use a fourth on the field this season. So, we have Higgins who I think is for sure starter. He has made strides when he got some playing time last year.
Defensive End: Semisi Fakasiieiki - Compton, California, Sophomore
Defensive Tackle: Keiwan Jones - Ocala, Florida, Senior
Nose Tackle: Ray Ellis - San, Jose, California, Senior
Rush End: Robert McWilliams III - South Miami, Florida, Redshirt Freshman
Semisi was moved from LB to Defensive End because he just doesn’t move great out in space. He bulked up to 260 and is ready to make an impact on the front line. He is a run stopper and he might be that interchangeable piece with McWilliams.
Keiwan Jones is coming back from a season ending knee injury. He could easily be a starter if his recovery went well. Jones is another big guy that can fill the middle and take on ultiple blockers.
Ray Ellis played in the bowl game after the dismissal of Eddy Wilson. He did a nice job in the bowl game and he could get in the rotation this year if he had a nice off season.
McWilliams is a pure pass rusher and I could see him coming out in obvious run situations and back in for passing situations. He is fast and will get after the QB.
Mike Zeigler - Springfield, Illinois, Junior (walk on)
Conor Sweeney - Indianapolis, Indiana, Senior (Walk on)
Branson Deen - Indianapolis, Indiana, Freshman
Jeff Marks - Mobile, Alabama, Freshman
Allen Daniels - Dacula, Georgia, Redshirt Freshman
Alex Criddle - Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, Junior
Lawrence Johnson - Fort Wayne, Indiana, Freshman
I have some freshman listed as playing. Especially at defensive end where our deep reserves are walk ons if I do not include them. Deen is talented as hell, I have heard from other high school coaches in Indianapolis that he was better than McGrone - who is headed to Michigan.
Lawrence Johnson is good enough to jump some older guys to get some PT, he was an absolute stud this past season.
Jack Sullivan - Plainfield, Illinois, Freshman
Kelvin Stokes Jr. - Millbrook, Alabama, Freshman