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Tuesday, February 26, 2013
State of the Rivalry: Defensive line

By Brad Bournival & Chantel Jennings

The writers at WolverineNation and BuckeyeNation put their heads together to break down the rivals' 2013 recruiting classes. They'll give readers a position-by-position look at who coaches Brady Hoke and Urban Meyer signed and, ultimately, which class edged out the other. It's too early to say what will happen through the next few seasons, and we won't make any promises except that Hoke and Meyer are going to put talent on the field.

Ohio State got: Having taken 11 defensive linemen in the last two recruiting classes, Meyer began and ended strong in forming the trenches on the defensive front. ESPN 300 defensive tackle Billy Price (Youngstown, Ohio/Austintown Fitch) started things off by giving his pledge on Feb. 13, but the star of the unit gave his “OK” to the Buckeyes when ESPN 150 prospect Joey Bosa (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) committed April 23. With ESPN 300 defensive tackles Michael Hill (Pendleton, S.C./Pendleton) and Donovan Munger (Shaker Heights, Ohio/Shaker Heights) joining tackle Tracy Sprinkle (Elyria, Ohio/Elyria) and Tyquan Lewis (Tarboro, N.C./Tarboro), the Buckeyes signed six defensive linemen.

The strength of the unit is in its versatility, as Bosa played all three positions for the Florida state champion Raiders, while Sprinkle can stand up at end or put his hand on the ground from a tackle position. Lewis, an early enrollee, can play the LEO for Ohio State, while Price, Hill and Munger are natural tackles. The Buckeyes will be young up front in 2013, but the future looks bright.

Who Michigan got: The Wolverines picked up three defensive linemen, and while they’ll fill holes well, none are huge names and the class as a whole is good, but not great. Defensive end Taco Charlton could be the player who gets playing time the fastest out of the three. Charlton, an Ohio native, enrolled early in January and even though he came in physically ahead of the game, the 6-foot-6 rush end is already at 266 pounds. Rush end is a position the Wolverines really struggled with, never getting enough pressure on the QB off a four-man rush, so Charlton’s added size (as long as he keeps his speed and quickness) could be the key to him getting on the field earlier.

The other two -- Henry Poggi (Baltimore/Gilman) and Maurice Hurst Jr. (Canton, Mass./Xaverian Brothers Academy) -- will likely have to wait a bit longer to get on the field at tackle positions. Hurst, though 296 pounds, has deceptive speed, playing some fullback in high school. Poggi comes from a family of physical players, and with his attitude and work ethic he has a lot of the elements that could help him see the field eventually. Even with defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery leaving for Oklahoma, these three players will have plenty of guidance with defensive coordinator Greg Mattison and head coach Brady Hoke, and all three could be contributors at one point or another for the Wolverines.

Advantage: Ohio State

The Buckeyes filled all sorts of needs on its defense with this class. ESPN National Recruiting Analyst Craig Haubert gave the OSU line honorable mention status, citing Bosa -- the seventh-ranked defensive tackle -- as the key to the class. Meyer has won two national championships with strong defensive lines, and all signs point to a strong one here.