2015 Preseason All-American Projections: Defensive Ends

By Charlie Campbell
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Heading into the 2015 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 the stars of next fall could be the headlining players next May in the 2016 NFL Draft.

First-Team Defensive Ends:

Joey Bosa, Ohio State

A year ago I wrote, “After a year of experience and development, Bosa should be ready to explode in the Big Ten this season.” That prediction became reality as Bosa was one of the best players in college football, regardless of position. He flat out dominated the Big Ten and finished the year by playing well in the playoffs. 2014 saw Bosa record 55 tackles with 13.5 sacks, 21 tackles for a loss, four forced fumbles and pass defended. He simply lived in opponents’ backfields. The 6-foot-5, 285-pounder has quickness to go with natural strength.

Don’t be surprised if Bosa has a massive 2015 season even though teams will be selling out to stop him and he will see steady double-teams. Bosa is just that much better than the competition. His numbers may fall short of last year’s totals, but he still should be a First-Team All-American.

Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State

In 2013, Calhoun was one of the breakout performers who led Michigan State to a Big Ten Championship and a win in the Rose Bowl. Calhoun was huge for the Spartans and was the Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year. In 2013, he had 37 tackles with 14 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception. After a slow start to 2014, Calhoun played better in the second half of the year. The junior speed rusher recorded 39 tackles with 12.5 tackles for a loss and eight sacks and a forced fumble for the season.

Calhoun made a wise decision to return for his senior year and improve before going pro. The 6-foot-5, 250-pounder has speed off the edge and should be at his best as a senior. A big season from Calhoun seems very possible, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he is rated high on all-star teams after the year.

Second-Team Defensive Ends:

Myles Garrett, Texas A&M

Garrett took college football by storm in 2014 as he was an impact defender for the Aggies from Day 1. The fast and athletic Garrett was a force on the edge as a quarterback hunter. He had 11.5 sacks with 53 tackles and 14 for a loss. Garrett is a natural pass-rusher who looks destined to turn into a high first-round pick. The 6-foot-5, 255-pounder will see steady double-teams as a sophomore, and I wouldn’t be surprised if his numbers dip a little.

Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State

Ogbah broke out for the Cowboys in 2014 with 11 sacks, 49 tackles, 17 tackles for a loss, one forced fumble and five passes batted. He has quickness to go with strength and made a lot of plays in the backfield. Ogbah isn’t a pure speed rusher or quick twitch, but he has power, plays the run well and has a good motor. As a freshman in 2013, Ogbah had four sacks and 20 tackles while rotating into the game. Double-teams will come his direction, but the 6-foot-4, 275-pounder should produce well as a junior because of his pass-happy conference.

Third-Team Defensive Ends:

Robert Nkemdiche, Mississippi

Nkemdiche (6-4, 280) is a tweener defensive end and tackle who has received a lot of hype since being the No. 1-rated player in the country during his recruiting cycle. He hasn’t produced up to that, but still he has the skill set to break out. In 2014, Nkemdiche recorded 35 tackles with two sacks. He flashed, but lacked consistency. Perhaps that will come as a junior.

Shawn Oakman, Baylor

Oakman notched 48 tackles with 18.5 tackles for a loss, 10 sacks, three passes batted and three forced fumbles in 2014. In the early going of the season, he was one of the more impressive players in college football. Oakman cooled down as the year progressed, before finishing with a strong bowl game against Michigan State. Given Baylor’s pass-happy conference, Oakman (6-9, 275) should produce a good stat line as a senior and is a strong candidate to be an All-American.

Honorable Mentions: Tennessee’s Derek Barnett, Alabama’s Da’Shawn Hand, Alabama’s Jonathan Allen, Ole Miss’ Marquis Haynes, Auburn’s Carl Lawson, Virginia Tech’s Dadi Nicolas, Utah’s Hunter Dimke, Wyoming’s Eddie Yarbrough, Florida’s Bryan Cox Jr, Louisville’s Devonte Fields, Oregon’s DeForest Buckner, Cincinnati’s Silverberry Mouhon, Oklahoma’s Charles Tapper, Auburn’s DaVonte Lambert, Minnesota’s Theiren Cockran and Clemson’s Shaq Lawson.

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