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Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Ohio State's 2014 Dream Team: Defense

By Brad Bournival

Da'Shawn Hand
Virginia prospect Da'Shawn Hand would be an ideal LEO for the Buckeyes, a DE/LB combo.
With the 2014 recruiting cycle now in full swing, BuckeyeNation wondered what it would be like to create a dream team. Tuesday we looked at the offense, Wednesday we switch to the defensive side.

There are stipulations in this dream list of recruits for the 2014 class.

The team has to mirror that of the Buckeyes’ defense. That means there aren’t 11 middle linebackers or safeties on the squad, just one standout at each position.

To be fair, linemen could move inside if need be, and inside backers could move to an outside linebacker spot as well.

One other thing, if a player was committed -- be it to the Buckeyes or somewhere else -- he was disqualified. The individual also had to have an offer from Ohio State.

Here’s what we came up with. It’s a formidable list:

Defensive end/linebacker: Da'Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge)
Known as the LEO position for the Buckeyes, there is really just one name in Hand. One of three juniors invited to The Opening last summer, he recorded 110 tackles --- 40 for loss -- and added 16 sacks with three fumble recoveries as a high school junior.

Defensive tackle: Elisha Shaw (Tucker, Ga./Tucker)
A natural defensive tackle, his 157 tackles, 14 sacks, three fumble recoveries and four forced fumbles show just how strong Shaw is in the trenches. His 6-foot-6, 295-pound frame is a load to handle as well.

Nose tackle: Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell)
At 6-foot-3 and 265 pounds, Thomas has the build to play inside. It might take some time to get used to playing a new position, but he recorded 89 tackles, 8 sacks and 18 quarterback hurries, so he has a nose for the ball (pun intended).

Defensive end: Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross)
Another tackling machine, Carter notched 124 tackles -- 40 for loss -- recorded 18 sacks and forced four fumbles. With 24 offers, he's on just about everyone's big board in the early stages of recruiting.

Outside linebacker: Clifton Garrett (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield South)
We moved him from the inside, but for good reason. With 117 tackles -- 11 for loss -- three sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception, he's a can't-miss backer for the Buckeyes.

Middle linebacker: Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County)
This is the key piece to what Ohio State hopes is a solid linebacker class for 2014. McMillan recorded 152 tackles -- 22 for a loss -- seven sacks, five forced fumbles, added an interception and scored a defensive touchdown.

Outside linebacker: Dillon Bates (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla./Ponte Vedra)
Never mind that he's the son of former NFL safety Bill Bates. Dillon is an animal on the outside. With offers from 25 Division I programs, schools see incredible potential for the 6-3, 195-pound Bates.

Cornerback: Jabrill Peppers (Paramus, N.J./Paramus Catholic)
Peppers could be the best true cornerback in the nation. With 77 tackles, three interceptions and a sack, he's strong. Offensively, the ESPN Watch List junior is outstanding as well.

Safety: Quin Blanding (Virginia Beach, Va./Bayside)
Blanding was another junior invitee to The Opening. Almost unquestionably, Blanding is the best safety out there. Last season, he recorded 111 tackles and five interceptions.

Safety: Montae Nicholson (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway)
Offenses try to stay away from Nicholson almost all the time. Why? He had two interceptions and returned both for scores last season. So far, 14 colleges have come calling.

Cornerback: Jalen Tabor (Washington, D.C./Friendship Collegiate Academy)
According to The Washington Post, Tabor did not allow one single completion last season. As a result, he already has collected 24 offers.