2014 Preseason All-American Projections: Defensive Ends

By Charlie Campbell
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Heading into the 2014 college football season, WalterFootball.com will debut our projections for the nation’s leaders during the fall. The All-American teams always have some surprises, and this coming fall’s stars could be the headline players next May for the 2015 NFL Draft.

First-Team Defensive Ends:

Vic Beasley, Clemson

Clemson has been known for its high-scoring offense the past few seasons, but the Tigers also have one of the best pass-rushers in college football. Beasley enters his senior campaign with over 20 sacks across the past two years. He has blinding speed off the edge to continue his torrid pace in 2014.

Beasley was a tremendous pass-rusher for Clemson last year with 13 sacks. He also picked up 23 tackles for a loss, 41 tackles, six passes batted, four forced fumbles and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. The junior ended the season in impressive fashion as he outplayed South Carolina and Ohio State. As a sophomore, Beasley had 14 tackles with eight sacks and a forced fumble.

Beasley won’t be able to stay at defensive end in the NFL. However, he should produce one more big sack total as an end overwhelming ACC offensive tackles. Beasley is a well-known commodity entering his senior year, and that will help him to get postseason honors as long as he continues to produce.

Randy Gregory, Nebraska

Gregory took college football by storm in 2013 as one of the best pass-rushers in the nation. The 6-foot-6, 255-pounder has great speed and agility to rush the passer.

Initially, Gregory was slated to go to Purdue, but it didn’t work out with the Boilermakers and he became one of the most sought after junior college prospects in years. Gregory landed at Nebraska and made an immediate impact for the Cornhuskers as one of the best pass-rushers in the nation. In only 10 starts last year, the sophomore totaled 66 tackles with 19 tackles for a loss, 10.5 sacks, one pass batted and an interception.

Gregory will see tons of double-team attention in 2014, but Nebraksa will move him around to get good rushing opportunities. Also, he just overwhelms the opposition, so he should be in line for another big sack total this fall.

Second-Team Defensive Ends:

Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State

Calhoun was one of the breakout performers who led Michigan State to a Big Ten Championship and a win in the Rose Bowl last season. Throughout 2013, Calhoun was huge for the Spartans and was the Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year. He recorded 37 tackles with 14 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception for the year.

The 6-foot-4, 257-pounder has speed off the edge and is strong for his size. He should be in store for another good season leading Michigan State’s front seven.

Calhoun may not produce a huge sack total in 2014 as he will see plenty of double-teams come his direction. Plus, he plays in a running conference, so he will see fewer opportunities compared to other pass-rushers.

Joey Bosa, Ohio State

Last year, Bosa was one of the best freshmen in college football and clearly is full of talent. The 6-foot-5, 285-pounder has quickness to go with natural strength. After a year of experience and development, Bosa should be ready to explode in the Big Ten this season.

Bosa was an honorable mention Big Ten performer for 2013. He racked up 44 tackles with 13.5 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks and one forced fumble. To end the season, Bosa played well against Michigan State in the Big Ten championship

With Noah Spence on the other side in 2014, Bosa should see a lot of favorable blocking sets. He also looks capable of rushing from the inside and beating guards with a speed mismatch. Don’t be surprised if Bosa has a massive season.

Third-Team Defensive Ends:

Noah Spence, Ohio State

Spence would be higher on this list, but he’ll start the 2014 season suspended. Last year, Spence had a breakout performance, and it looks like he has a ton of upside to develop. With Bosa on the other side, Spence should produce a huge 2014 season – if he can stay on the field.

Spence collected 52 tackles, 14.5 tackles for a loss, eight sacks, one forced fumble and two passes broken up last year. However the sophomore closed out the season on three-game suspension, including the Orange Bowl against Clemson as he reportedly violated a conference rule. He’s got two games left on that suspension.

The 6-foot-3, 252-pounder could be even better with more strength. That should come as he ages. Ohio State should be playing with a lead often, so Spence will have decent pass-rushing opportunities.

Cedric Reed, Texas

While Texas’ defense had some ugly performances in 2013, Reed played really well. The 6-foot-6, 270-pounder has good size and quickness off the edge. Playing in college football’s version of the Arena League, Reed should see plenty of opportunities to rush the passer in 2014.

In 2013, Reed recorded 10 sacks, 68 tackles, 17.5 tackles for a loss, four passes batted and five forced fumbles. His performance meant the Longhorns didn’t have a big drop off after losing Alex Okafor to the 2013 NFL Draft.

Texas will also be without Jackson Jeffcoat this year, so double-teams will surely come Reed’s direction, plus the senior won’t take teams by surprise anymore. Still, Reed should produce a quality stat line to get some postseason honors.

Honorable Mentions: Florida’s Dante Fowler, Kentucky’s Alvin Dupree, Kentucky’s ZaDarius Smith, TCU’s Devonte Fields, Ole Miss’ Robert Nkemdiche, Baylor’s Sam Ukwuachu, Georgia’s Ray Drew, Missouri’s Marcus Golden, Baylor’s Shawn Oakman, Stanford’s Henry Anderson, Louisville’s Lorenzo Mauldin, Florida’s Jonathan Bullard, Arkansas’ Trey Flowers, Cincinnati’s Silverberry Mouhon, Oklahoma’s Charles Tapper, Miami’s Anthony Chickillo, Clemson’s Corey Crawford, Michigan’s Frank Clark and Notre Dame’s Sheldon Day.

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