Every year roster turnover is to be expected. One position that would’ve been left with inexperience was the interior defensive line. A key position in Tim DeRuyter’s defensive scheme, usually three down linemen take up space and make life hard for the opposing offensive line.
All of those worries have been cleared as both Jaylon Hutchings and Tony Bradford Jr. almost consecutively announced that they will be returning next season to anchor the middle of the Red Raiders defense. Personally I thought that Hutchings would go pro and Bradford Jr. would return, but having both back is going to make life easier for the rest of the defense.
Having these two return will affect the edge rushers the most. With Tyree Wilson turning heading to the NFL, DeRuyter is going to have to scheme pressure a lot more often than he had to when Wilson was a force on his own. Jesiah Pierre should hopefully return along with Bryce Ramirez from injury, and young guys like Joseph Adedire, Charles Esters III and incoming freshman Isaiah Crawford will be in 1v1 situations quite often.
The guys behind them will also benefit from these two returning as well. Myles Cole and Philip Blidi rotated in at the other interior position when they would have three out there, so if they return then they will have an opportunity in the same role. Around spring time I will have the projected roster article out detailing the depth at each position, but the defensive line will have similar depth as they did last year.
Be on the lookout for reactions to guys returning, turning pro or transferring! Tyler Shough, Kosi Eldridge and Adrian Frye are key guys to keep an eye on, but there could be a few more unexpected transfers.