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Ohio defenders, including Pierre Kemeni (7) and Kai Caesar (50), make a stop late in the third quarter of the game against Northwestern University at Ryan Field on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021. (Jesse Jarrold-Grapes | Photo Editor)

Football: Get to know Ohio's defensive line

Ohio has had a lot to work on and adapt over the offseason, including its defense. Its defensive line looks a little different this year but has the same goal: keep Ohio from getting down in games and help the team hold on to its leads. 

Here’s a breakdown of Ohio’s defensive line going into the 2022 season: 

Who’s Gone

Ohio will be missing former defensive end Will Evans, who played a big part in Ohio’s 34-17 win against Akron last season. With his six solo tackles, two sacks, and one forced fumble in that game, Evans helped Ohio earn its first win in 2021. By the end of the season, Evans led the team with 4.5 sacks. 

Who’s Back

One of the most notable players returning to Ohio’s defense is Kai Caesar. Last season, the defensive tackle played in all 12 of Ohio’s games, recording 25 tackles and 1.5 sacks. While he didn’t record the most tackles or sacks on the team, Caesar served as team captain and was a strong leader on defense. 

Also returning is Bryce Dugan, a staple on the Bobcats' defensive line. Dugan completed 34 tackles during the 2021 season, two of which were for big losses. He really found his stride towards the end of the season, assisting on 11 tackles in the last five games. Dugan will be looking to start this new season right where he left off. 

Other notable names returning to Ohio’s defensive line are Rodney Mathews, Denzel Daxon, Michael Taylor and Jeremiah Burton. 

Who’s New

Over the offseason, Ohio welcomed defensive end Dontay Hunter II to the team. The redshirt junior spent the last two seasons at Purdue, where he did not play. Because Hunter II hasn’t had the opportunity to showcase his talents at the college level yet, he may be excited to get out on the field for Ohio. Hunter II will be able to bring something new to the program and elevate Ohio’s defense this year. 

Position Outlook 

Not only did Ohio add a few new players on defense, it also added a new defensive coordinator: Spence Nowinsky. Before coming to Ohio, Nowisnky served as co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Miami for four years. 

Under Nowinsky, the Bobcats defensive line may be structured a bit differently. Change can be a good or bad thing and switching things up on defense might be the change of pace the Bobcats need this year. They gave up a number of big leads during Mid-American Conference play last season, including a three-touchdown lead in their 27-26 loss to Buffalo. 

If Ohio’s defensive line can come back stronger than last year, it can boost Ohio to a better season than last. 


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