Three best defensive players for the Ohio State football team in 2024

As we head into the second week of Spring practice, we look forward to the season by ranking the three best Ohio State football players on the defensive side of the ball.

Sep 17, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes defensive end J.T. Tuimoloau (44) celebrates
Sep 17, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes defensive end J.T. Tuimoloau (44) celebrates / Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA
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2. Caleb Downs

It's not often that a new player comes in and is immediately one of the best players on the team. That's exactly what the Ohio State football team gets in Caleb Downs. Downs chose to transfer to the Buckeyes over Georgia once Nick Saban retired at the end of the year.

Downs is just a sophomore but is already a first-round talent. He had over 100 tackles as a true freshman and intercepted two passes. Now he joins a secondary that is absolutely loaded. Downs is going to be even better with so much talent surrounding him.

Downs comes in and immediately makes the Buckeyes a better defense at stopping the run. His speed and physicality when he goes downhill is breathtaking. He hits the hole with enough force that running backs don't break his tackles very often. They just go straight down.

Because Ohio State has Downs, they move their thumper safety, Sonny Styles, to linebacker. That's another move that should help their ability to stop the run. It also gives them more versatility with pass coverages because Styles can obviously still cover well.

Ohio State is lucky to have Downs for the next two years. He makes the defense more versatile and allows it to have multiple lineups. Jim Knowles has already talked about possibly doing some 3-4 lineups to change some looks up. That could be interesting against some pass-happy teams.

The final player on this list is someone who bounced back in a big way last season and played like he did as a true freshman.