After winning the Cotton Bowl against USC, Ohio State learned that they wouldn’t have another one of their defensive leaders for next season.
Sam Hubbard announced on Twitter that he is forgoing his senior season in Columbus, and will enter into the 2018 NFL Draft.
What does Ohio State lose by having Hubbard leave early?
Well, they lose one of the most experienced and productive lineman from the past three seasons.
Hubbard entered the Cotton Bowl as the tackle leader on the defensive line. His 38 tackles helped pave the way for the Buckeyes to dominate offenses, and Hubbard even picked up Defensive Player of the Week honors in the Big Ten after getting 2.5 sacks against Michigan.
In the Cotton Bowl, the Cincinnati native duplicated his sacking ability by bringing down Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold 2.5 times. (His career best for sacks is 2.5.) He also had 3.5 tackles for losses—and ended the game with four tackles.
Career wise, Hubbard recorded 116 tackles throughout three years. In the last three years worth of bowl games (Notre Dame, Clemson and USC), Hubbard was able to record at least .5 sacks in each game. Against the Fighting Irish, he had one sack; in the semifinal loss last season to Clemson, he had .5 of a sack; and Friday night’s 2.5 sack effort against the Trojans.
Only one time did Hubbard get an interception (Maryland 2015), and three times he forced a fumble.
Who fills the void?
Jonathon Cooper and Chase Young seem like prime candidates to go into Hubbard’s role for next season. Especially with Tyquan Lewis and Jalyn Holmes being seniors, either Cooper or Young will have to step into the exact same spot that Hubbard had for the last three seasons.
Nick Bosa may very well be the best person on the line next season—following in the footsteps of his brother Joey Bosa. The DE had 1.5 sacks against USC, and has appeared to be unstoppable at times this season.
The 2018 class features one defensive end prospect in three-star Alex Williams, so there may be an issue where someone will have to fill into that position—assuming OSU doesn’t pick up another DE commitment by the time its 2018 recruiting class is finalized.