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Defensive Line


Defensive Line Coach Rick Kaczenski will be working with what could be the most experienced defensive line in the country. The 2009 starters return intact (all four started all 13 games last year). All four are all-Big Ten candidates and Adrian Clayborn is a Preseason All-American. Clayborn has started 17 straight games and has 140 career stops. He was named 2009 Defensive Performer of the Year by the College Football Performance committee. He had 70 tackles last year, including 20 tackles for loss (-107 yards) and 11.5 quarterback sacks. He forced four fumbles and blocked a kick, and ran it back for a touchdown, against Penn State. The play against Penn State was one of the top defensive plays of the year in college football. He was a first-team all-Big Ten selection and was also named the MVP in the FedEx Orange Bowl victory over Georgia Tech. Anchoring the starting end spot on the other side of the line will be junior all-Big Ten candidate Broderick Binns. He had 63 tackles in 2009 and now has 83 career stops. Binns played very well as a starter last year. Seniors Karl Klug and Christian Ballard enter spring ball as the returning starters at defensive tackle. Ballard has started 26 straight games and has 109 career tackles. Klug had 65 tackles last year, along with 13 tackles for loss (-40 yards) and two forced fumbles. Ballard also had nine tackles for loss (-35 yards).

Miami FL

Six defensive ends have started at least one game, making for some stiff competition. The best of the bunch is senior Allen Bailey, a Preseason First Team All-American who has led the team in sacks the last two seasons. Bailey is a monster wherever he is used along the line and is poised to go among the NFL's higher picks with a strong season. Adewale Ojomo, a superb pass rusher, is back after missing all of last season with a broken jaw and is ready to fulfill the promise that had some calling him an All-ACC player prior to his injury. Other ends that are already proven are Andrew Smith (15 tackles, 2.5 for losses last year), Marcus Robinson (six tackles for losses, four sacks), Olivier Vernon (seven tackles for losses, 1.5 sacks last year as a freshman) and Steven Wesley (six tackles for losses, three sacks). They will combine to give Miami an explosive rotation of fresh legs coming off the edge. Josh Holmes, a smallish but explosive player, is a returning starter and will form part of a rotation at defensive tackle that will also include Micanor Regis and Curtis Porter, a pair of 300-pound run stuffers who shined in limited duty last season. Regis played well above his sophomore status last year (played in every game). Marcus Forston was tabbed a First Team Freshman All-American in 2008 by just about every publication but only played in three of the first four games last fall due to an injury. He returns healthy giving Miami some of the best line depth anywhere from both the inside and out.

Penn State

Replacing players such as Jared Odrick and Jerome Hayes on the defensive line of scrimmage would prove cumbersome for most any team. However, three starters return up front from the nation's sixth ranked rushing defense and the Big Ten's top rated sack unit. At 6'6 and 270 pounds, Eric Latimore has all the physical tools for a Penn State defensive end. A multitude of nagging injuries have hampered his previous seasons but he has gotten healthy and was a top candidate for the team award given to the most improved defensive player this spring. On the other side Jack Crawford is an elite athlete standing at 6'5, 265 pounds with legitimate 4.7 40-yard speed. He was Penn State's most consistent DE a year ago recording 14.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. The top priority is replacing Jared Odrick at tackle. That honor will fall on big 300-pound Ollie Ogbu who has excellent quickness off the ball. He will be the most consistent down lineman in the middle. Ogbu was not a highly touted recruit and many felt his scholarship would be a waste, but he has proven everyone wrong and will be a three-year starter this fall. Devon Still will get first crack at the other tackle spot. Coach Paterno has spoken highly of him since he arrived on campus back in 2007. His one-on-one battles with All-American offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski were some of the best highlights of spring football.

West Virginia

The entire defensive line from this 3-3-5 alignment returns from last season. Tackle Scooter Berry has a team leading 28 starts to his credit and has dotted a few All-Big East lists over the past few years. Berry fought through a shoulder injury and academics most of last season seeing action in only eight games. But the senior-to-be is one of the team's top playmakers when he is on top of his game. Senior Chris Neild has the second most starts on the team with 27 and anchors the line for the third year at nose tackle. He started 13 games last fall, which was good enough for All-Big East recognition. With a neck as big as his thighs, he is a superb run stopper and was awarded the John Russell Award for leadership by the coaching staff. Arguably WVU's biggest defensive success story in 2009, Julian Miller burst onto the scene as a redshirt sophomore and made quite an impression as a defensive end. He finished with a team-high nine sacks (4th best in the conference), 14 tackles for loss and 53 tackles (second most for a defensive linemen in the Big East). He enters 2010 as one of the players to watch.


Both tackles Brandon Thompson and Jarvis Jenkins are worthy NFL talents. They are in their third season of working together. Jenkins was the top tackler among all linemen last year with 69 stops and Thompson was not far behind with 50 stops. Great depth is also what separates this unit from the rest. Jamie Cumbie is really a third starter. The 6'7 tackle also amassed 53 tackles. Da'Quan Bowers is the returning starter at DE. The No. 1 ranked player at any position coming out of high school according to ESPN, Bowers had some injury problems his first two years but still managed to record 58 tackles last fall despite missing two games and playing sparingly in three others. Malliciah Goodman and Andre Branch are two more talents on the outside. Goodman was a freshman All-ACC selection by Kourtnei Brown is another talented end who lettered in 2007 and 2008, then redshirted in 2009. This group has a combined 357 tackles among them.


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