I've been trying to avoid this, but I'm moving over to the defensive side of the ball. We're going to start up front and get the painful stuff out of the way first. After losing the one guy on the defensive line that could actually pressure the quarterback in Christopher Lyle, and another big body in Nate Frerem it's scary out there. The Cyclones were able to bring in just three defensive line recruits (1 JUCO) to try and plug the biggest hole on the team. Needless to say, the Cyclone coaching staff has a lot of work in front of them, because BP has had more luck stopping the oil leak so far than the defensive line did at getting pressure minus the two guys that are now gone. The leading returning tackler on the line is Patrick Neal with 27 tackles (1 sack). After that? Bailey Johnson with 22, Stephen Ruempolhamer with 20, Austin Alburtis with 18 and Roosevelt Maggitt and Rashawn Parker with 13 apiece. Of course, Parker's numbers came in 4 games, everyone else's over the course of the season. Needless to say, I'm not inspired with hope.
LE: Patrick Neal
DT: Jake McDonough
NG: Stephen Ruempolhamer
RE: Rashawn Parker
Neal and Parker appear to be fair bets at the ends, though JUCO Rony Nelson may give them each a run for playing time. Neal was far from impressive, though he did give as good of effort as anyone on the line. Parker is still coming back from injury and may not be 100% by the time fall camp comes around. The interior of the line is anybody's guess, though McDonough and Ruempolhamer seemed to be the favorites this spring.
LE: Rony Nelson
DT: Austin Alburtis
NG: Bailey Johnson
RE: Roosevelt Maggit
It's honestly completely up for grabs this season. It's a healthy mix of Chizik/Rhoads recruits and new walkons, none of which are particularly inspiring. Rhoads and company need someone to step up in a big way, because while the defensive line was simply below average last year, it might be really bad this year. Not one player has established himself as anything more than a below average Big 12 player, with Parker being the lone guy on the line that might be considered close to average at his best.
One would have to imagine the competition is totally open. And, as of right now, this is the one part of the team that scares the living hell out of me.