In case you haven’t heard already, the Buckeyes received a major BOOM for their 2022 recruiting class on Tuesday thanks to the commitment of Indiana native, Caden Curry. Picking Ohio State over other suitors such as Alabama, Indiana, Oregon, and Clemson, the Buckeyes yet again won out for a top defensive lineman and have position coach Larry Johnson in large part to thank for this latest addition. Whether it be his track record itself or the development he offers his players, Johnson’s efforts on the trail have paid off in a major way as this class needed to reload along the defensive line.
The 14th-ranked defensive lineman in the class, Curry is also considered to be the third-best player in Indiana and 88th best player nationally regardless of position per the 24Ssports Composite. Easily the player along the defensive line the Buckeyes recruited both the longest and hardest in this 2022 cycle, if you’re reading this chances are you already knew how important landing Curry was for the coaching staff. Fortunately, the staff and their relentless efforts in pursuit of the Center Grove product and his services has finally paid off.
There’s a lot to be excited about when it comes to Curry and what he’ll bring to the Buckeyes in terms of his on field abilities. With Ohio State likely losing some key depth pieces on the defensive line, the staff knew this cycle would need to be a big one for future success. For many reasons, Curry checks most if not all of the boxes. Without further hesitation, let’s get into a couple of the biggest assets Curry will bring the Ohio State defense thanks to his elite skillset.
Versatility to play multiple spots
Without getting into too much scheme, the Buckeyes tend to recruit defensive ends who specialize in rushing the passer and defensive tackles who can do the same, but more so focus on stopping the rush thanks to their bigger body types. Each year we see Ohio State play their four-down front, and whether it’s the typical two ends and two tackles or their “rushmen” package with four defensive end body types, the Buckeyes like variety and love when one of their players can play multiple spots in the trenches, lining up both inside and on the edge.
In regards to Curry, he fits that role perfectly. In his prep film of just his junior campaign, Curry is lined up in multiple ways by his Center Grove squad. In a four front, Curry often lines up inside as a defensive tackle, and you can see how comfortable he is in both rushing the passer and defending the run game. Realizing this is last year’s film, Curry still displays how he attacks offensive linemen. More so with his overall strength and power, he tends to get the best of his opponent. Still, you can see where he’s been taught to use his hands in combat in pursuit of the ball, which is what many of Larry Johnson’s players have raved about is his ability to teach them hand combat to win the rep.
In this clip below, you can see how Caden uses his power to push the offensive linemen back enough where he has the leverage. In addition, the raw power is just truly what sets him apart not only on this specific rep, but in every game he plays. Like most of the clips on his film, his pursuit of the ball carrier ends successfully. Surely the Buckeyes will love his presence inside as a powerful defensive tackle.
Ohio State is not a team that will run a three front on the defensive line, and that’s the case even with new defensive coordinator, Jim Knowles. For further proof of Curry’s versatility, here you can see his prep team using him as a true 0-technique, which means he is lined up directly over the center as a nose tackle. Once again, his get off and power prove to be major assets to his rush abilities. He’ll likely not be asked to line up as a 0-technique tackle in Columbus, but he certainly could if needed. Just another example of his ability to play in multiple areas.
Furthermore, Curry being lined up in those areas aren’t the only two schematic ways he can be used on the defensive line. He may play defensive tackle more so than defensive end, but his 6-foot-3, 250 pound frame will definitely allow him to also be an edge rusher at the next level if that’s the route the staff sees him most suitable at. For reference, Nick Bosa is currently 6-foot-4, 265 pounds, which obviously isn’t a world of difference in comparison to Curry’s frame that has yet to enter coach Marotti’s strength program.
Overall, if Ohio State wants to bulk him up to be a true defensive tackle, then they’ll do so. But, if they want him to be more of an edge rusher, he’s able to do that too. Either way, his versatility is a major reason why he was a critical piece for this 2022 recruiting class.
Relentless motor and technicality
Of all the important aspects on the defensive side of the ball, there’s arguably none bigger than pursuit. In coaching, 11 hats to the ball means exactly what it sounds like. Defensive coaches want every player to have a nose for the ball, and the key word again is pursuit. Whether it be in practice drills or in game play, seeing the defense swarm to the ball carrier gives the notion that the team plays with effort, but also understands more hats to the ball prevents missed tackles, big plays, and cutbacks by running backs and receivers. On his tape, Curry shows a relentless motor that LJ and Knowles will love having on the field.
In this clip below, you see the ball is run to the left side of the field away from the right edge where Curry is line up. It doesn’t matter, though. Having a nose for the football, Curry rids the blocker with pretty impressive hand combat and violently attacks the ball carrier. Highlights like these have a coaching staff drooling at the high motor and effort he plays with on every snap.
On the technical side of things, it was already mentioned how Curry uses his strength and hands to attack offensive lineman, but if there’s one specific move he’s known for, it’s his spin move when rushing the passer. Not a move he’ll be able to use every snap at the next level, he’s surely fine tuned it at the prep level and will be able to add that to his repertoire of pass rush moves that will separate him from the pack as a difference maker on the defensive line. Larry Johnson is a wizard at pass rush moves and hand combat, so having a player like Curry coming in with already a few great moves of his own should help him pick up more quicker than most, which hopefully gets him on the field faster.
There’s a ton of clips that show the spin move, but see below for just one example. His first step quickness off the ball is what allows the move to be so successful.
Wrapping it all up, what the Buckeyes are getting is one of the best defensive linemen in the country. Yes, he’s ranked as the 14th best player at the position and 88th best overall, but in all honesty, he’s probably underrated being where he’s from in Indiana, which isn’t a place known for big time D-I prospects. Still, Ohio State is getting a two-time state champion, Mr. Football candidate, and a player that plays with great pad level, relentless effort, and the versatility to be used in a variety of ways.
Larry Johnson, you’ve done it again.