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Sports in Kansas: 25 Defensive Lineman to Watch for 2018

Elliott Strahm had a monster year for Sabetha winning state football & wrestling. (courtesy photo)
By: Sports in Kansas - Chet Kuplen
Jul 17, 2018

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Several defensive lineman return after having big seasons in 2017. Check out who to watch in 2018. This lists main purpose is to represent the entire state from every class. Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we will do this position by position. Chet Kuplen, Managing Partner of Sports in Kansas, and Ben Mitchum, Sports in Kansas contributor, compile lists and evaluate players (last years all state selections from us, HUDL, camps/combines, input from other media/coaches) every year for every position which help compile this finalized list. This is not a recruiting list or prospect list and players are not ranked or in any special order.This list is powered by Rack Performance and Nex-Tech Wireless. Be on the lookout for our postseason honors after the 2018 season on who will be the Top 100 seniors in Kansas and who will make the Sports in Kansas All Non-Senior Team. If you ever have a player that you think we should take a look at be sure to DM @sportsinkansas or sportsinkansas@gmail.com

25 Defensive Lineman to Watch for 2018 (NG,DT,DE)

Chase Ast DT 6’0”, 240-pounds (Conway Springs)

Ast is one of the strongest players in the state and will look to lead the Cardinals defense in 2018. He did 22 reps on 225 at the Sharp Performance Combine last spring. He also squats 575, benches 340 and cleans 325 while featuring 4.95 40 yard dash speed. Ast will be one of the better small school players in the state in 2018.

Sam Bart DE 6’4”, 225-pounds (Lawrence) & EJ Jewsome DT 6’0” 255-pounds (Lawrence)

Combo pick for the Chesty Lions, who bring in Steve Rampy as the new head coach. Rampy was one of the best head coaches in Kansas history at Blue Valley prior to being the Pitt State OC the last several years. He returns a couple of studs on the defensive line. Bart looks very good off the edge and could be a hidden prospect headed into 2018. He’s a very explosive player and has a great first step. He features a clean of 300 pounds and has a very good motor. Jewsome has some work to get better on the field but there’s no question he is one of the strongest kids in the state, featuring a squat of over 600 pounds, which vent viral on Sports in Kansas twitter last spring. LHS will need these guys to have a big year.

Cooper Beebe DL 6'3”, 310-pounds Sr. (Kansas City Piper)

Good luck to any offensive lineman that faces this load in the middle for the Piper Pirates. Beebe is an athletic big bodied lineman that also doubles as one of the best offensive lineman in the state. His brother, Colton, is currently a tight end at Minnesota, while Cooper committed to the Kansas State Wildcats. Beebe showed athleticism for his size by contributing on the basketball team and should also be one of the top shot put throwers in 2019.

Grant Cooney DE 6'6”, 235-pound Sr. (Topeka)

Cooney has developed into a kid that could potentially generate Division I interest this season and will be looked upon heavily to lead the Topeka defense. He will also could be called upon offensively to play either OT or TE.

Evan Darville DT 6’2”, 295-pounds Sr. (Dodge City) & Logan Schulte DT 6’4”, 255-pounds Sr. (Hays)

The WAC gets a combo pick here from its league. Darville is the top returning defensive lineman in the Western Athletic Conference and should be one of the best returning in Western Kansas.Schulte is one of the top returning lineman in the WAC earning second team honors as a junior last fall. He certainly features nice size at 6’4” and 255 pounds.

Javier Derritt DT 6'3”, 270-pounds Sr. (St. Thomas Aquinas) Matt Roberts DE 6’1”, 210-pounds Jr. (Aquinas)

Two of the best in the state right here. Derritt is a two-time Sports in Kansas non-senior pick and Roberts also made the team last season. The two will be two of the best defensive lineman in all classes of Kansas this year. Roberts still awaits that first FBS offer, however he may be the most talented junior to be in the state on the defensive line. He doesn’t have ideal size at the position, but recruiters are missing out on this 2020 ATH. Derritt has committed to FCS powerhouse North Dakota State and will be one of the best defensive tackles in the state.

Lovette Epelle DT/NG 6’1”, 245-pounds Jr. (Free State)

Free State is loaded on both sides of the football and Epelle may be a guy you don’t know a ton about but his name has circulated around to us in the offseason and we think he has a shot to be a very good player over the next two seasons. Epelle has one of the best first steps in the state and really shined at KU team camp.

Mason Fairchild DE 6’4”, 250-pounds Sr. (Andale) 

Fairchild is a South Dakota commit and also featured a KU offer. He’s an athletic defensive end that is a three sport athlete for the Indians. Andale is traditionally one of the best teams in the state and we don’t expect anything to change for 2019. Fairchild battled some injuries last season but was still good enough to get Non-Senior honors from Sports in Kansas. He’s also one of the best blocking tight ends in the state. Expect a big year for the 2019 product.

Caleb Haggard DE 6’2”, 235-pounds Jr. (Labette County)  Qualin Powell DE 6’3”, 220-pounds Sr. (Chanute) Peyton Steele DE 6’4” 220-pounds Sr (Pittsburg) Aaron Woods DE 6’3”, 215-pounds Jr. (Pittsburg)

The Southeast Kansas area should be solid at the defensive end position this year so we went with a combo pick of some talented 4A defensive ends in the area this year. Haggard has impressed at camps and combines and is a returning all league pick as a sophomore in the SEK after tallying 11 sacks in 2017. Powell is an athletic defensive end that had a huge spring in track and field, he’s big, fast and explosive.  Steele and Woods should be two solid 4A players for the Purple Dragons. Steele has a sub 4.7 40 and has great size. All four will have a shot at college football.

Wyatt Hayes, DE 6’1 190-pounds Sr. (Scott City)

Hayes is an undersized defensive end but he’s one of the best athletes in the state. He’s tough as nails as a state wrestling champion and also a state champion in the 800 meters. He doubles as the Beavers fullback and returns with a solid cast of players for 2018. Hayes is one of the best two-way football players in the state of Kansas, regardless of classification. Don't let his size fool you, he is the real deal.

Marcus Hicks DE 6'5”, 240-pounds Sr. (Wichita Northwest)

Hicks is one of the most heavily recruited defensive ends we have ever had in Kansas. The Oklahoma commit is back and ready to lead a loaded defensive unit along with senior all-state linebacker Josh Carter. Hicks has an unlimited ceiling with potential and we feel his best football is ahead of him. He’s also a very solid wrestler and thrower in track and field. Hicks tallied 11 sacks last year for the Grizzlies.

Austin Hobelmann DE/ 6’2”, 240-pounds Sr. (Smith Center)

Hobelmann was an all 2A pick last season and is one of the better 1A two-way lineman returning in the state of Kansas. He helped lead Smith Center to a 2-1A state title last fall and will look to be the leader of both groups of lineman after graduation Sports in Kansas Defensive Player of the Year Dalton Kuhn.

Damon Kepley DE 6’5”, 235-pounds Sr. (Holcomb)

Kepley is the top returner this season for the 4A-II defending state champion Longhorns. He is a talented 2019 DE prospect that is also an offensive lineman. With a breakout season he could generate some interest for himself.

Nathan Matlack DE 6’4”, 205-pounds Jr. (Olathe East)

Matlack is a freak athlete with a 40 inch vertical. He also has very good speed with a 4.7 40 yard dash. He can chase down plays everywhere and provide a solid rush. He has put himself on the map as a prospect this off-season. A lot of upside for the junior to be.

Dylan Marks DE 6’1”, 215-pounds Sr. (Southeast Saline)

Marks is a freak in the weight room and has speed as well on the edge. He has 4.79 40 speed and a bench press of 335 pounds. He really shows explosiveness in the weight room with a 360 clean, 490 squat and a vertical of 35 inches. He’s not just a combine warrior either, he gets the job on the field and is a sack machine. He may no project as a prospect because of size for some levels but there’s no question he’s one of the toughest players in Kansas.

Blake Martin DE 6’6”, 220-pounds Sr. (Hesston)

Martin had a successful junior campaign on the way to earning non-senior honorable mention from Sports in Kansas last year. He has the frame that college coaches want but will need to get a bit stronger to develop into a prospect. Martin looks good making contact and will be a key piece for the Swathers in 2018.

Isaac Mitchell DE 6'4”, 240-pounds Sr. (Salina South), Jayden Miller DT 5’11”, 260-pounds Sr. (Salina South), Cole Butts DL 6'0" 235-pounds Sr. (Salina Central)

The two schools probably don't like get putting together but Salina gets a trio pick from its two 5A high schools.Mitchell is a rising recruit at DE/TE in the class of 2019 and also the state javelin champion last spring for the Cougars. He holds an Air Force offer and is a returning Sports in Kansas Non-Senior selection in 2017. Miller will be depended on the interior to help rebuild the Salina South program that took steps in the right direction last season. Miller is also a Sports in Kansas Non-Senior pick last season. Butts is a returning all AVCTL-I pick as well, in fact the Salina trio made up three of the four all league picks on the defensive line last year. Butts is also a longsnapper.

J.J. Neal, DT 6’0”, 250-pounds Sr. (Olathe South)

Neal was a breakout player in the Sunflower League that many may not know of across the state. They should as he has the ability to play all spots on the defensive line and is a load. He loves contact, gets penetration and makes plays. He had 16 TFLS in 2017. Neal has ranged between 230 and 250 pounds in his career and is a great utility defensive lineman.

Hadley Panzer, DT 6’4” 275-pounds Jr. (Lakin)

Panzer had 10 sacks last year for the Broncos and also doubles up as an offensive line pick on the 25. The big bodied junior is ready for another big year and could draw some interest very soon.

Keaton Ricke DE 6’5”, 220-pounds Sr. (Bishop Carroll)

Bishop Carroll always seems to have players step up as senior and Ricke will be called upon to do that in 2018. He had a breakout junior year and can play on the outside or inside. He also has nice speed and the ability to bring a pass rush or chase players down. He holds an offer from Central Missouri.

Sean Ryan DT 6’5”, 285-pounds Sr. (Bishop Miege) & Jalen Williams DE 6'4”, 225-pounds Sr. (Bishop Miege)

Bishop Miege has a pair of big guys back to patrol the defensive line once again in 2018. Williams was a first team non-senior last year and Ryan is one of the biggest defensive tackles in the EKL at 285 pounds. Both will look to lead Miege to their fifth consecutive state title.

Burton Schindler DE 6’3”, 205-pounds Sr. (Kapaun)

Schindler definitely has put himself on the map this season at some camps and in the weight room. He’s a long and explosive player and features a clean of 300 pounds. He will need to add weight at the next level but is looking for a breakout season in 5A for the Crusaders in 2018.

P.J. Spencer DE 6'3”, 235-pounds Sr. (Shawnee Mission East)

Spencer was a first team All Non-Senior last fall from Sports in Kansas and will be one of the top defensive lineman in the Sunflower League once again in 2018. SM East has a lot of key pieces back from last years squad but will be under new leadership with a new coach. Expect the Lancers to have another solid campaign in 2018.

Elliott Strahm DT 6’2”, 260-pounds Sr. (Sabetha)

Last years 3A Defensive Player of the Year is one of the better multiple sport athletes in the state that makes both 25 lists on OL and DL. He is also the defending 3-2-1A state wrestling champion at heavyweight. Strahm will be a huge task for any offensive and defensive lineman that tries to deal with him.

Sutton Williams DE 6’4”, 230-pounds Sr. (Blue Valley)

Williams was one of the best defensive lineman in the Eastern Kansas League last season. He plays for a program that perhaps has the best tradition in Kansas and you can always count on being a contender. Blue Valley had some growing pains a year ago but still put together a quality season with a lot of youngsters. Key pieces are back and Williams will have to have a breakout year to lead the BV defense.

Others to Watch:

Eric Galbreath – Lawrence 6’6 240, Severen Hance – Pratt 6’0 230, Hayden Wiltfong – Norton 6’6 215, Nathan Larsen – Olathe South 6’2 210,  Zach Vesper – Olathe South 6’1 280, Corby Nisly – Haven 6’4 265, Nathan Mcklack – Olathe East 6’4 205, Grant King – Blue Valley 6’1 305, Luke Higgason – Otis Bison 6’1 225, Burton Schindler – Kapaun 6’3 205, Myles Livingston – Emporia 6’1 305, Derek Van Dorn – Centralia 6’3 265, Isaac Helms – Chaparral 5’11 230, Lorenzo Celani – Fredonia 6’0 210, Noah Stanton – Maize 6’1 200, Braxton Reed – Chanute 6’4 250, Ucipch McDaniel – Wichita East 6’1 215, Amos Sullivan – Wichita East 6’0 215, Khalil Lisbon – McPherson 6’4 245, Joshua Morrow – Salina Central 6’3 245, John Molitor – Kingman 5’11 190, Mason Thiessen – Inman 6’7 220, Marcos Fisher – Dodge City 6’1 200, Damarius Peterson – Newton 6’7 225, Matt Lomshek – St. Mary’s Colgan 6’0 195, Payton Collins – Wichita South, Isaac Keener – Derby, Jace Friesen – Basehor Linwood, Daniel Hernandez – Hayden, Konrad Peterson – Smoky Valley, Ethan Wampler – Smoky Valley 6’1 260, Nic Zimmerman – Iola 6’1 300, Shane Wright – Burlington, Landon Gegen – Cheney, Hadley Panzer – Lakin 6’4 270, David Schulte – Halstead, Gaitlin Clawson – Meade, Luke Orender – Colgan (LB/DL), Charlie Timmons – Smith Center, Konnor Pfeifer – Ellis, Taye Washington – Hoxie 6’6 330, Jake Wellbrock – Victoria, Masen McDaniel – Argonia Attica,  Ryan Murphy – Carroll , Brady Bockover – Carroll, Desshawn Nichols Wichita West, Angel Antu – Wichita East, Bryce Westmoreland – Derby, Noah Stanton – Maize, Mateo Martinez – Campus, Zach Saville – Maize South 6’2 295, Jeret Plummer – Mulvane 6’0 210, MIeguel Gerber – Chaparral, Tucker Trevett - Trinity Academy, Konrad Peterson – Smoky Valley, Jack Neal – Hutch Trinity, Bryan Chaves – Cimmaron, Carson Williams – Jackson Heights 6’2 230, Xavier Slaven – Colby,  Joe Krause – SM East 6’4 275, Zavier Newman – SM East 6’0 240, Tyler Dorsey – Derby 6’1 260, Daniel Archer – Derby 6’0 230, Noah Solley – Haven 5’11 300, Komesh Spoonhunter – Royal Valley 6’5 270, Jaiden Wamego – Royal Valley 6’4 235, Quinn Nichols – Baldwin 5’11 230, Ronnie Washington - Derby 6'0 295, Anthony Garcia – Leavenworth 6’3 280, Pablo Martinez – Great Bend, Josh Jamison – Olathe East, Ashton Andion – SM East, Ben Turla – SM South, Jayston King – Liberal, Cesar Burciaga – Liberal, Ethan Crone – Garden City, Harrison Nabbity – Blue Valley, Jaren Williams – BV Southwest, Christian Roth – Mill Valley, Keller Snesrud – Burlingame 6’2 275, Jace Friesen 6’1 205, Caleb Korte – Golden Plains, Nathan Ohlde -Clifton Clyde, Colton Heskett – Hoxie, Jarrod Dible – Hoxie, Pete Peters – Hanover, David Hernandez -Manattan, Jamieson Jones - Newton