Position Preview: Defensive Ends

(Photo by Abby Fullenkamp)

The defensive end group entered last season as a fairly inexperienced group.  However, the 2018 group returns an All-Conference level starter and many of the rotational players.  The group is also joined by a juco and two players who red shirted last season.  This group feels like a unit that is ascending because of the returning experience and the young talent that has been developed.  If a couple of the younger players can translate their successful spring into the fall camp, watch out for this group.  

Coach Clint Brown has now been with the Jacks for 10 seasons as the defensive coordinator and also as the defensive end position coach.  The Jacks play a 4-3 defense almost exclusively and Coach Brown relies on his front four to get after the quarterback with limited blitzes.  .      

 #90 Ryan Earith (6-4, 255) had an excellent sophomore campaign after recovering from an injury.  Earith plays the run really well and is able to get to the quarterback registering 5 sacks and 5 additional quarterback hits to go with 40 tackles. Brown describes Earith as a "self-made guy" because of his card work and effort in all areas of his life.  Brown feels like Earith was the best defensive end in the league at the end of last season and that he should be an All-Conference player this year.

#66 Elijah Wilson (6-4, 265) is now a sophomore.  During his freshmen season Wilson made 9 stops and had 1 sack.  Wilson is a player that fans are excited to see take the next step and become a dominant player.  He will be counted on to take another step forward this season because he has all the tools to be great Brown said.  He had a good spring and the game has slowed down and he is understanding his strengths and weaknesses as a pass rusher.  Brown said that because of his rare combination of speed and power he has the potential to be a true difference maker along the defensive line.  

#34 Austin Smenda (6-2, 245) is another junior who has been in and out of the starting lineup the past two seasons and has played a ton of snaps.  Smenda recorded 16 tackles and 2.5 sacks last season.  Brown credited Smenda for really improving his flexibility this spring and summer.  He said that Smenda is a really good player against the run and will be looked to take another step as a pass rusher.   

#22 Tolu Ogunrinde (6-1, 260) spent his freshmen season learning a new position after switching over from running back.  During 1 on 1's in fall camp, Tolu was at times unblockable but that success didn't carry over to the field.  Tolu is explosive and is one of the strongest players on the team.  Brown shared that while Tolu took a really big jump this spring, he still needs to get comfortable at the position and identify who he is as a pass rusher.  He said that they are counting on Tolu to take that next step and be part of the rotation this fall.

#97 Reece Winkelman (6-5, 245) red shirted last fall and has steadily improved since getting to campus.  He had lots of opportunities to play this spring and will get every opportunity again this fall.  Brown shared that he really flashed at times this spring and that he is a natural pass rusher with his hands.  He is also still learning the position after converting from linebacker in high school but is in line for playing time this fall. 

#92 Alex Parella, is a transfer from Iowa Western Community College who will have three years of eligibility left.  Parella was off to a fast start last season for IWCC before an injury put him on the shelf for much of the season.  Now 100% healthy, Parella has the chance to make an instant impact for the Jackrabbits.

Malachi Johnson also joins the position group after sitting out 2017.  He is extremely athletic and played tight end and outside linebacker in high school.  he is learning the position but has all of the measurables, determination, and willingness to learn.  Brown said that Malachi hasn't missed a single workout and that he asks lots of questions.      

#95 Ryan Kluver (Buffalo, MN) and #94 Cade Terveer (Brandon Valley, SD) are the incoming freshmen who will make big contributions for the program.  Kluver is a really tough-nosed type of player while Terveer has one of the best "get-off's" that I have watched on film.

Additional Position Previews
Defensive Tackles

Go Jacks! 


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