Sports in Kansas: 25 Defensive Lineman to Watch in 2015

Xavier Kelly of Wichita East committed to Clemson in late July. (submitted photo)
By: Sports in Kansas - Chet Kuplen
Aug 3, 2015

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Several defensive lineman return after having big seasons in 2014. Check out who to watch in 2015. Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we will do this position by position and release a full list of players to watch in Kansas.

(Alphabetical by last name - Not Ranked)

Jaden Abernathy, Buhler (6-3 275 Sr.)

Abernathy returns after earning all-state honors in 2014 for the Crusaders. Abernathy doubles as one of the state’s best offensive lineman as well. He will have a big part in helping the Crusaders go after their second title in three years. Abernathy also made the offensive line list.

Jeff Ast, Andale (6-5 260 Sr.)

Ast is one of the best all-around athletes in Kansas. He is the nation’s top javelin thrower and has the second best throw in Kansas history at 226-02. Ast is also an all-state caliber basketball player. But now its football season and Ast will look to lead the Indians to a second consecutive title in 4A-II. In addition to being one of the top defensive ends to watch in 2015, he is also one of the better tight ends in Kansas. We talked to him earlier this week and he’s up 15 pounds from track season and has an FCS offer from Western Illinois. Expect stock to go up.

Shane Berens, Hays (6-3 230 Jr.)

Berens earned first team All-WAC as a sophomore last fall on the defensive side of the football. He was the lone sophomore on the list. He also doubles as a tight end and should be one of the top juniors to look for in Kansas this season.

Amani Bledsoe, Lawrence (6-5 275 Sr.)

Bledsoe is one of the nation’s top defensive lineman in the Class of 2016. He has over twenty division one offers and just narrowed his list down to ten. Bledsoe and his teammate Trey Georgie, who both made our DL list, will be two of the better lineman in Kansas this season that both have division one offers. Bledsoe also made our offensive line list.

Tanner Burnett, Elkhart (6-2 230 Sr.)

Burnett is a rare defensive tackle/running back combo. Sometimes when you’re at a smaller school, you have to do it all. He had 100 tackles (16 TFL) from his defensive tackle position last season, where he has been one of 2A’s top players over the past couple of seasons. He really shines on offense where he rushed for over 1,700 yards last season.

Anthony Brown, Mill Valley (6-2 260 Sr.)

Brown is a weight room warrior, squatting 600 pounds and benching 350. He earned first team All-Kaw Valley defensive end honors as a junior in 2015. He also features good quickness, running a 4.8 forty at 260 pounds. He will look to be the leader on the Mill Valley defense for 2015.

Angel Dominguez, Aquinas (6-3 240 Jr.)

Dominguez shined last season as a sophomore in helping Aquinas reach the 5A state title game. He is a rising recruit in the class of 2017 for the state of Kansas. Expect a big year for this premier defensive lineman out of the Kansas City area.

Christopher Dugan, Bishop Carroll (6-2 220 Sr.)

Dugan had a huge junior year for 2014 state champion Carroll. He earned all city league honors on the defensive line and will be one of the premier defenders in the Wichita area for 2015. He registered 76 tackles last season for the Golden Eagles. Dugan also earned first team non-senior honors from Sports in Kansas.

Jeff Gurley, Blue Valley (6-1 205 Sr.)

Gurley is a bit undersized at defensive end but is one of the better returning defensive ends in one of Kansas’ best leagues (EKL). A lot of the premier defensive lineman have graduated in the EKL from 2014 and Gurley could be one of the one’s that steps up in 2015.

Kasey Feyh, Wamego (6-3 280 Sr.)

Feyh had a big year in 2014 as a junior with 79 tackles from his defensive end position. Feyh earned first team all-league honors in football and was the state runner-up at 285 pounds in class 4A wrestling.

Trey Georgie, Lawrence (6-5 270 Sr.)

Georgie doesn’t get the hype that Amani Bledsoe does but he has saw some recruiting interest come his way this past offseason, picking up some offers FCS and above. Georgie and Bledsoe will look to form one of the best defensive lines in Kansas for 2015. Throw in all-state linebacker Price Morgan and that’s a pretty good looking Chesty Lion defense.

Dai Coye Haley, Atchison (6-2 265 Jr.)

Haley has been starting at defensive tackle since he was a freshman for the Redmen. He had 61 tackles last season, 20 which went for loss. Look for him to be an all-state candidate as a junior this fall.

Austin Hart, Colby (5-11 240 Sr.)

Hart doubles as a state wrestling champion as he won 220 pounds in 4A last season. He should be one of the smaller class lineman to watch for this year in the state of Kansas after earning all-state honorable mention in 2014.

Aaron Heft, Kiowa County (6-0 265 Sr.)

It seems like Heft has been in high school forever. He has been one of the best defensive lineman in 8-man since his sophomore year. A four year starter he has racked up 122 tackles, 32.5 which have went for loss.

Luke Heisdorffer, Shawnee Mission East (6-5 240 Sr.)

Heisdorffer is primed for a huge senior season after gaining 45 pounds in the offseason and moving from outside linebacker to defensive end. Coach Dustin Delaney thinks he will be their next really good defender at East after the graduation of two-time all-state selection Kyle Ball, who signed with Kansas State. What a difference one year can make.

Branden Ho, Wichita Northwest (6-0 205 Sr.)

Ho had a huge year as a junior in 2014, racking up 79 tackles, 18 of which went for loss. He also had five sacks over 10 games from his defensive end position. He earned first team non-senior honors from Sports in Kansas in 2014.

Xavier Kelly, Wichita East (6-5 250 Sr.)

Kelly is one of the nation’s top recruits for the class of 2016 and will play at Clemson next year. Kelly is the most athletic defensive end in the state and is also one of the best returning basketball players in Kansas for 2016. He helped Wichita East to a 6A state basketball title this past March. Although he didn’t pick up a ton of honors last year, he will be the premier defensive player to watch in Kansas this year along with Amani Bledsoe of Lawrence.

Kaelin Key, Bishop Miege (6-1 260 Sr.)

Key helped lead the defense last season for the 4A-I state champion Stags. He earned first team non-senior honors from Sports in Kansas. He features speed just around the 4.9-5.0 range, benches 300 and squats 500. He had 51 assisted tackles and 26 solo last season. 15 of his stops went for loss. Expect an all-state caliber year at defensive tackle for Key.

Isaiahh Loudermilk, West Elk (6-7 272 Sr.)

Loudermilk was really only known in the basketball and 8-man football world this time last year. Fast forward to now and every college recruiter in the country knows something on him. He enters his senior season with 12 FBS offers. He is being recruited at both offensive and defensive line. He has put on nearly 40 pounds since last football season and added strength.  He also doubles as one of the better basketball players in small classes Kansas, averaging over 14 rebounds per game. West Elk Coach Chris Haag can’t say enough good things about Loudermilk on and off of the field. Loudermilk also made the Top 25 offensive lineman to watch list.

Michael Queen, Olathe East (6-3 265 Sr.)

Queen has generated some division one football interest this offseason. With all the premier lineman that graduated in the Sunflower League from last season, he will be one to watch on both sides of the football for 2015.

Noah Schomacker, Cheney (6-4 230 Sr.)

Schomacker earned first team all-state honors in 3A last season. He will be one of the top small class lineman in Kansas on both sides of the football.

Nikolai Tostado, Shawnee Heights (6-1 250 Sr.)

Tostado will be a player to watch on offensive and defensive line in the Topeka area this season. He had 98 tackles last year for the T-Birds, 10.5 which went for loss.

Conner VanCleave, Holcomb (6-6 210 Jr.)

VanCleave has quickly became one of the state’s best overall athletes in the class of 2017. An all-state basketball player that earned 4A-II baseball player of the year as a sophomore is also one of Kansas’ best tight end and defensive ends. Last season he had 61 tackles and eight sacks as a sophomore.

Duall Watson, Wichita Northwest (6-2 270 Sr.)

Watson has been a force at defensive tackle over the last two seasons for the Grizzlies. He has picked up 69 tackles and 19 tackles for loss.

Jason Zook, Chapman (6-4 275 Sr.)

Zook, who won the state heavyweight wrestling crown in 4A last season, also earned all 4A-II honors last season for the Irish. His coach, Dan Sell, expects him to once again have another big year and says he is athletic enough to attract the interest of college coaches this season. He also made the Top 25 offensive lineman to watch list for 2015.

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This list was compiled by Chet Kuplen of Sports in Kansas with input from Ben Mitchum of SB Nation.