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Sports in Kansas: 25 Defensive Lineman to Watch for 2017

Andrew Callahan of Fort Scott will be one of the best lineman this year in KS. (Photo: Brian Wade)
By: Sports in Kansas - Chet Kuplen
Aug 23, 2017

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Sports in Kansas has compiled its list of 25 Defensive Lineman (DT,NG,DE) to Watch for the upcoming 2017 season. List is alphabetical by last name (unless a combo pick) and is not a recruiting list. Our intention is also to try to cover every classification and every part of the state to make it a true overall list to watch in the state. Every year Chet Kuplen and Ben Mitchum compile lists to project who the states top players will be at the beginning of the season which is based on last years performance/stats, input from coaches/media, and recruiting/video highlights. Special thanks to Rack Performance for powering this list. 

Collyn Auker, Norton, 6-2 250 Sr.

Auker had a breakout season a year ago with 12 sacks and 85 tackles from his defensive tackle spot. He should be one of the top small school defensive lineman in Kansas this season. Norton returns Jace Ruder and Tevin Petrie along with Auker to help make them a contender in 3A. Auker is also a state wrestling champion.

Cooper Beebe, Piper, 6-3 310 Jr.

Beebe is a prospect on the rise 2019 for Kansas. He has gotten bigger and stronger since last season and looks for a breakout year in 2017. He comes from a football family and his brother is a tight end at the University of Minnesota, Colton, a former three-time all-state player in Kansas at Piper.

Terrion Brewer, SM West, 5-8 250 Sr. & Byron Sherwin, SM West, 6-1 270 Sr.

Brewer and Sherwin were both second team Sunflower picks a season ago in a senior heavy league. We expect the two to be two of the better lineman in this league this season. Sherwin moves from linebacker to defensive line this year after he added about 35 pounds in the off-season and Brewer will look to plug holes in the middle with his low to the ground power.

Andrew Callahan, Fort Scott, 6-2 265 Sr.

Head coach Bob Campbell calls “Bubba” aka Andrew Callahan the best two-way lineman they’ve ever had at Fort Scott under him and if you know anything about Fort Scott football over the last 25 or so years then you know that’s quite the compliment. Callahan is the top lineman in the Southeast Kansas area and should be one of the best in all classes of Kansas this season. Look for a lot of double teams on the outstanding senior from the Fort.

Johnny Clausing, Augusta, 6-7 245 Sr. & Kendall Davis, Augusta, 6-4 300 Sr.

Size is off the charts for these two three-year starters for the Orioles. Augusta plays in the loaded AVCTL-III with the likes of Buhler, Maize South and McPerson. The Orioles made the playoffs going 6-4 last year and these two All AVTCL-III defensive lineman should help give them an opportunity to get back to them.

Mac Copeland, Wichita Collegiate, 6-5 250 Sr.

Copeland, a KU commit, was also a pick on the SIK 25 Offensive Lineman to Watch for 2017. He is also back on the defensive side of the ball where he looks to lead Collegiate on a deep run in the 4A-II playoffs. Copeland is very impressive in the weight room with a clean of 290, bench of 345 and a squat of 430. Expect him to be the top two-way lineman in 4A-II this season.

Javier Derritt, Aquinas, 6-3 250 Jr. & Matthew Roberts, Aquinas, 6-2 220 Soph. & Anthony Gaona, Aquinas, 6-3 210 Sr.

One of the best defensive lines in the state should be Aquinas. Aquinas has all the pieces back this year to what we think will be a state title but first off this line will be tested over the first eight weeks of the season in the always loaded Eastern Kansas League. Derritt had 25 solo tackles and 25 assists last season with six TFLs. Roberts is an emerging 2020 prospect that is 6’2 220 pounds and has a 4.7 40-yard dash and is a sack machine. He also had 11 TFLs with 52 total tackles last year (39 solo, 26 assists). Roberts may be the best non-senior defender in the state this season.  Gaona may be overshadowed by the two but he produces big time as he had 10 QB hurries last season to go along with four sacks and nine tackles for loss. Aquinas has a loaded defensive front for 2017 as you can see.

DeMarcus Elliott, Garden City, 6-3 295 Sr.

Elliott is one of the most underrated prospects in the state. He earned All Non-Senior honors from Sports in Kansas last fall after leading the Buffaloes to a one loss season. Elliott is a weight room warrior with a squat of 585, bench of 300, a 40 in the 5.0 range, and a 30-inch vertical. Elliott is one of the best players in Kansas without an FBS offer.

Miles Emery, BV North, 6-5 235 Sr.

Emery is one of the top prospects in the state and has committed to play at KU for the Jayhawks. He returns with a loaded cast of players on BV North that many are thinking become a serious contender in 6A this season. Emery will get the opportunity to prove himself week in and week out in the EKL. Look for another breakout year for the athletic defensive end.

Carlos Emanuel, Hanover, 6-4 305 Sr., Tristan Lee, Burlingame, 5-10 225 Sr., Trayton Doyle, St. Francis, 6-2 225Sr., Anthony Albertini, St. Paul, 6-2 225 Sr., Luke Taylor, Victoria, 6-3 215 Sr.

Man we have some quality defensive lineman in 8-man this year that could shine on any level. Emamuel is one of the strongest players in Kansas and earned honorable mention 8-man honors a year ago for the 8M-II champ Wildcats. He could breakout into a prospect this fall. Lee was an all-state selection last season for the Bearcats and will look to lead them on another deep run in 8M-I, where they have made the last two semifinals. Doyle was an all-state selection last season for the 8M-I runner-up Indians. He will look to lead both lines again this season. Albertini was a stud last season for the 8M-I Indians who made the playoffs for the first time since 2010. He earned honorable mention honors on offense and defense all-state for SP. Taylor is a nice defensive end for the Knights that punished offenses a year ago. He has a very quick first step and uses his hands very well. He should be one of the top lineman in 8-man this fall.

Jackson Flowers, Gardner Edgerton, 6-6 225 Sr.

Flowers may be one of the best kept secrets in the EKL because he played defensive end for the first time in his life last year. He has grown five inches since his freshman year and put on about 20 pounds of weight since this time last year. Flowers could be a breakout player in the Kansas City area this year. He has great athletic ability with a 4.8 40-yard dash and a 36-inch vertical. Flowers is also one of the best wrestlers in Kansas.

Hayden Gillum, Plainville, 6-3 250 Sr.

Gillum was a linebacker just over 205 pounds last season and has added a lot to his frame this year in the weight room, now up to 250 pounds. He has also kept his speed and could emerge as a prospect this season with a breakout year. He will need to get a big stronger at the next level as he continues to add weight. He was one of the top linebackers and offensive lineman in 2-1A last fall and we expect that to stay the same this year with the transition to line on defense.

Broc Ginavan, Frontenac, 6-4 230 Sr.

Ginavan shined as a sophomore and junior for the Raiders and was often double teamed. There’s no question he has the size the college recruiters are looking at but his focus may be on baseball at the next level. He will look to have a big year for the Raiders on defense after earning Sports in Kansas Non-Senior honors last fall as a junior. Ginavan was a unanimous selection by the CNC leagues coaches at defensive line in 2016. The CNC has quite the group of lineman in 2017, as Galena features SIK 25 OL pick Trevor Little as does Columbus in Sam Eddington, both also defensive lineman to look at in 2017.

Marcus Hicks, Wichita Northwest, 6-5 245 Sr.

The last time Wichita Northwest had a recruit like this it was Kamerion Wimbley back in the 2001 season and he went on to Florida State, then a first-round pick in the 2006 NFL draft. We aren’t trying to put unrealistic expectations on Hicks but he is a highly touted recruit that is on his way to being one of the nation’s top prospects in 2019. Hicks has speed in the 4.6-4.7 range in the 40 and features a 33-inch vertical. Where he really excelled in the weight room was the clean where he had 350 last spring. Northwest definitely has some stuff going in the weight room with fellow junior linebacker Josh Carter that make the Grizzlies looking pretty good heading into 2017 season. Northwest has been known for offense but Hicks will look to buckle down that defense in 2017.

Lee Roi Johnson, Tonganoxie, 6-2 235 Sr.

Johnson was an all-state selection last year as well as an all Non-Senior pick from Sports in Kansas. He registered 58 tackles from his defensive end spot. He is one of the most explosive athletes in the bunch and is the 4A state discus champion with a toss of over 190 feet which ranks among the best in the country. Johnson may project better as a division one track athlete at the next level as he’s in rare territory in the country but some programs also like him as a defensive lineman at the next level. Johnson is one of the fastest guys on the list with a 40 in the 4.6-4.7 range.

Dalton Kuhn, Smith Center, 6-2 225 Sr.

Kuhn will be a force for the Redmen in 2-1A this season and it’s hard to match what he does in the weight room for his size. He has a 340 bench press and squats 500 pounds from his defensive end position. He also features nice speed in the 4.85-4.95 range to go along with a 27-inch vertical. Smith Center hasn’t had a state title since they won the last of their five consecutively in 2008 but many think this is the year that one of the best programs in Kansas history gets back on top. They will figure out fast and be prepared in the loaded Mid-Continent League.

Eli McWilliams, Nemaha Central, 5-10 275 Sr.

McWilliams is a wrecking ball on the offense and defensive lines for Nemaha Central, delivering hit after hit. As a pulling guard on offense you can see his speed at 275 pounds and his power as he plugs holes on defense about as good as you’re going to see in the small school Kansas levels. He could be the top returning two-way lineman in 3A this season. Look for a big year for him at defensive tackle as Nemaha Central looks for a deep run in 3A.

Isaac Mitchell, Salina South, 6-4 225 Jr.

Mitchell had a breakout sophomore year in which he earned Sports in Kansas Non-Senior honors in 2016. South was down last year but they look to get things changed around this year and Mitchell will lead the defense along with linebacker Payton Webb and lineman Jayden Miller. He was also one of the state’s top javelin throwers as a sophomore last spring.

Jaylen Pickle, Cimmaron, 6-5 280 Sr.

Pickle, a defensive end that can also play inside, is the top prospect on this list and we knew that from the first time we posted a pic of him from his sophomore year at Sharp Performance Combine. He has committed to Kansas State and is one of the biggest players in the state at 6-foot-5, 280-pounds. Pickle has been dropping some weight so it’s likely he could be in the at 265 range by the time season starts with his transition to fullback for 1st-year head coach Greg Koenig, who came from Beloit. Pickle is also a tight end if needed and could be used on the offensive line as well. How athletic is Pickle? He has a 4.9-5.0 range in the 40-yard dash and has a 28-inch vertical at 265-280 pounds. The Cats landed a nice one out of Western Kansas who was a first team Non-Senior from Sports in Kansas last fall.

Wyatt Seidl, McPherson, 6-3 225 Sr.

Seidl should be one of the best defenders in 4A-I this season after earning first team all-state honors as a junior last fall. The senior defensive end is one of the fastest defensive ends on this list with speed in the 4.7 range and is very athletic. He has a 31-inch vertical and will look to lead a loaded Bullpup defense in 2017.

Zach Titus, DeSoto, 6-4 285 Sr.

Titus is one of the bigger lineman in the state and is a great athlete. He uses his motor to be one of the top players in the Frontier league and is seeing some interest from the division one level. He was also a 25 pick on the offensive line heading into this season from Sports in Kansas. Look for another big year of Titus as DeSoto could be that team to come out of the Frontier League. He had 52 tackles one year ago.

Tylen Wallace, Schlagle, 6-4 230 Sr.

Wallace may not play the best competition all year but he dominated the competition that he did face. He had 15 sacks a year ago and 60 tackles. He can play both end and tackle. Wallace has the size to project as a player at the next level.

Brendan Webb, Buhler, 6-5 215 Sr., Lawson Schultz, Buhler, 6-0 250 Sr., Braden Rose, Buhler, 6-1 235 Sr.

Webb, a defensive end, is perhaps the most athletic player in this entire SIK 25 list and that could develop into him landing an FBS offer this season. We feel he has that ability as an athlete. He features a 37-inch vertical to go along with a 4.64 40-yard dash. In track he showed us just what type of athlete he was with a 200 meters in 23.6, a shot put toss of 154-08, javelin throw of 171-05, while triple jumping 44-02. Someone offer this kid. Schultz more known for an all-state offensive lineman will also be relied on at defensive tackle this season for the Crusaders. Rose another defensive end opposite of Webb is also a nice offensive lineman that will be looking for a breakout year on the defense in 2017. This Buhler bunch is loaded but so is the AVTCL-III. Can the Crusaders get back to the title game?

Dalen Williams, Wichita Heights, 6-3 225 Sr.

Williams was a first team All-5A pick a season ago as well as a first team Non-Senior from Sports in Kansas. He is back with a loaded cast of players that make heights a 5A contender on the West. Williams is an athletic defensive end that can also double as a defensive tackle. He has exceptional speed in the high 4.6-4.7 range handheld. Williams can also jump out of the gym with his 34-inch vertical. We got some athletic lineman in this years group.

Sutton Williams, Blue Valley, 6-4 230 Jr.

Williams, a defensive end, had a breakout campaign last year at Blue Valley as one of only three defensive starters that weren’t seniors last fall for the 6A state runner-up. He had 59 tackles last season and should be one of the top junior defensive lineman in 6A this fall. Williams and a loaded junior class will look to make sure BV keeps where its use to being as a top contender in the state.

Others to Watch:

Joseph Stout – Chase County, Nathan Spain – Free State, Spencer Roe – Free State, Elwin Trejo – Liberal, Marcos Fisher – Dodge City, Evan Darville – Dodge City, Luis Ludesma – Goodland, Josh Dallman – Silver Lake, Leighton Cushenberry – Atchison,  Garrett Bridwell – Wichita Northwest, Eric Solis – Wichita Northwest, Khalil Austin – Lansing,  Antonio Espinoza – Maize,  Sam Eddington – Columbus, Jack Govert – Kingman, Steven Tatum – Rock Creek, Austin Youngers – Garden Plain, Brandon Gray – Jayhawk Linn, Jake Walker – Oswego, Trevor Little – Galena, Jacob Ziegenhirt – Council Grove, Tucker Kimball – Osage City, Matthew Lange – Conway Springs, Tucker Hurst – Humboldt, Nolan Jones – Plainville, Avery Bradley – Ell Saline, Grant Janzen – Remington, Trent Poe – Norwich, Logan Lingg – Dighton, Isaac Torson – Dighton, Ruben Torres – South Barber, Landon Hoopingarner – Otis Bison, Luke Higgason – Otis Bison, Hagen Henderson – Wichita Heights, Will Crouse – Rawlins Co., Jarrod Dible – Hoxie, Dylan Marks – SE Saline, Ezra Goodman – A&A, Hayden Wiltfong – Norton, Ike Valencia – Mill Valley, Taye Washington – Hoxie, Jake Thompson – Burlingame, Miguel Gerber – Chaparral, Tucker Tribble – Gardner Edgerton, Drew Rediger – Olathe North, Jacob Mondragon – Goddard, Nick Farsnworth – St. James, Andrew Sorenson – Manhattan, Cade Holmes – Shawnee Heights, Nathan Jackson – Wakefield, Isaac Torson – Dighton, Bo Meisenheimer – Aquinas, Patrick Gillen – Valley Center, Garrett Lowry – Louisburg, Matthew Lange – Conway Springs, Tucker Ritchey – Topeka, Tate Petrie – Burlington, Zion Thompson – BV North, Deacon Grubbs – BV Southwest, Nick Farnsworth – St. James Academy, Connor Dumit – Miege , Jalen Williams – Miege, Isaiah Carter – Carroll, Marelle Boulingy – Wichita East, Jayden Miller – Salina South, Dylan Jensen – Hutchinson, John Moses -Maize South, Grant Fairchild – Andale, Mason Fairchild – Andale, Isaac Helms – Chaparral, Shane Gleeson – Cheney, Jack Govert – Kingman, Eli Wilson – Nemaha Central, Michael DeWeese – Northern Heights, Keegan Crotchett – Spring Hill, Austin Ormbsy – Eudora, Dalen Kistner – Hartford, Jasper Partin – Garden City, Cyle Gautschi – Newton, Pablo Martinez – Great Bend, Daniel Wehling – Liberal, Sadonte Person – Junction City, Ty Cicero - Pittsburg, TJ Peterson – Topeka West, Jace Flood – Baxter Springs, P.J. Spencer – SM East, Jacob Glendinning – Washburn Rural, Ashton Andino – SM East

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