With the college semesters winding down we inch closer and closer to Big Ten teams suiting up for summer camps. As those weeks move by, we are back again for another conference positional preview. This time we finally get to move over to the defensive side of the ball.

This week we’ll start with the defensive lineman of the Big Ten, an absolutely stacked position in the conference. The list will consist of some big names, and there will surely be some deserving that will get left off.

To make my life a little bit easier, those with injury and transfer concerns will be left off of the list. So, without further ado, here are my rankings for the top returning defensive lineman in the Big Ten.

1. Nick Bosa, Junior, Ohio State

Putting Ohio State‘s Nick Bosa at the top of this list was one of the easier decisions I’ve had to make in my 22 years of living.

The younger brother of the LA Chargers‘ star defensive end, Joey Bosa, the junior is as disruptive as they come in the trenches. Bosa has a relentless pass rush that notched him 8.5 sacks on a stacked defensive line.

He was just as successful against the run with 17 tackles for loss. Bosa can back up all the hype he brings and is not only one of the best prospects in the Big Ten but college football in general.

2. Rashan Gary, Junior, Michigan

Now let’s flip our attention over one of Bosa’s biggest rivals. Michigan‘s Rashan Gary can line up all across the line to wreak havoc on opposing offenses.

He’s an athletic marvel that can get down the line of scrimmage to chase down backend runs. The New Jersey native produced six sacks and 12 tackles for loss while often opening up opportunities for his teammates to make plays.

However high Nick Bosa goes in the draft you can bet that Gary won’t be too far behind. Heck, with a season still to play I wouldn’t be surprised if these two flip-flop on this list.

3. Joe Gaziano, Redshirt Junior, Northwestern

To me, it is absolutely wild that no one seems to talk about Joe Gaziano as one of the best defensive linemen in the Big Ten.

There are probably two reasons for this, one being the abundance of talent at his position throughout the conference and two being he plays for Northwestern.

Gaziano led the conference in sacks with nine and that’s playing with less talent around him (by conference standards, anyway). He also, just like his counterparts above him, lived in the opposing backfield.

Sleeper: Chase Young, Sophomore, Ohio State

For as great as Urban Meyer’s defensive line was, it says something that Chase Young was able to contribute as a true freshman. Young has grown man size at just 18 years old, standing in at 6-foot-5 with a 265-pound frame.

He showed ample promise with his pass rush in the limited action he played by notching 3.5 sacks. The Buckeyes lost a few bodies on the defensive line to the NFL draft making way for Young to have a breakout season, so I’m expecting just that.

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Author Details
Content Creator , The Armchair All-Americans LLC
My name’s James King, and I’m a 22-year-old Sports Journalism major at the almighty Rutgers University. I’m from central New Jersey (yes it exists) right on the beach in a town called Neptune. I grew up playing baseball and football, but being 5’7” and deficient of speed doesn’t get you much after high school graduation. My passion for sports and obvious deep love for keyboards has brought me to this lovely place here. I bleed green for my beloved New York Jets (it will sound good one day, just wait). The Boston Celtics and Red Sox hold the other two-thirds of my sports heart. With that said, you can usually find me kicked back somewhere with a brew giving my usually disagreeable sports opinions.
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Content Creator , The Armchair All-Americans LLC
My name’s James King, and I’m a 22-year-old Sports Journalism major at the almighty Rutgers University. I’m from central New Jersey (yes it exists) right on the beach in a town called Neptune. I grew up playing baseball and football, but being 5’7” and deficient of speed doesn’t get you much after high school graduation. My passion for sports and obvious deep love for keyboards has brought me to this lovely place here. I bleed green for my beloved New York Jets (it will sound good one day, just wait). The Boston Celtics and Red Sox hold the other two-thirds of my sports heart. With that said, you can usually find me kicked back somewhere with a brew giving my usually disagreeable sports opinions.
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