*NOTE: To help spread the love, players will be listed at only one position. So some players who might qualify as a Big Board caliber player here will be ranked at another position. The scout sheet we send to colleges has all players and all their positions.
45 – Adam Dolata(Linsly) 2022
45 – DJ Fuller (Bluefield) 2022
47 – Ryan Elkins (Herbert Hoover) 2022
5. AJ Dunbar
Dunbar quickly became a resounding part of Poca’s title-contending defense in 2020. At defensive tackle, the rising junior was among the state leaders in sacks per game. He is a well-balanced lineman with a good blend of size and athleticism. This gives him some versatility in how the Dots can use him up front for pass rushing or run defense. Dunbar is a good, solid player with two years left to continue getting more dominant.
4. Liam Lyck
Lyck has the size that immediately gets the attention of scouts. Right around 6’5, he has incredible length on the edge of defensive lines. He uses that advantage consistently, disallowing opposing tackles to ever get a good block on him. His movement and strength is still catching up to his legitimate size and should continue doing so even in college. Lyck is a prototype recruit that can have many of his flaws developed into strengths; he should get plenty of opportunities.
3. Drew Clendenin
Clendenin is the reigning Class A Defensive Player of the Year and with good reason. With an abbreviated schedule, the rising senior still managed to average a sack per game. Of any lineman on the list, he is the best playmaker. He is creative and powerful off the edge, plays the run with good technique and discipline, and is always due for some batted balls or occasional interceptions. Clendenin is one of the best defensive linemen out of Class A in years and his offers will reflect that.
2. Gabe Ryan
Ryan comes onto the list at number two due to his size and aggression. Already pushing 6’3 230 pounds, the rising junior is potentially the most aggressive defensive end in the state. His motor is constantly bullying offensive linemen back into their quarterbacks or designed run plays. He also moves with fluid speed and agility for a player his size. The sophomore-junior year jump is usually the largest so it will be very interesting to see what he puts on film this fall.
1. Eric Smith
Smith has been on our lists since his freshman season. Always possessing elite size and length, it took him about two years to really settle into his identity on the football field. That not turns out to be as a monster pass rusher off the edge. Few, if any, other players have his reach and height but no other matches it with a solid ability to move. His strength and flexibility has improved dramatically over the past two seasons and his controlling of the line of scrimmage reflects this. Smith has already received several Division I offers and should continue doing so.
Keep An Eye Out
Logan’s Caden Dotson (2023) led the state in sacks per game in 2021 but due to a lack of film (no fault of his own), it is hard to gauge his true rank but his size and little film show promise. Bluefield will be incredibly stout in the interior of their line with strong tackles DJ Fuller (2022) and Bryce Gamble (2023). Both are very tough in the trenches. Joining Lyck on the defensive front will be Adam Dolata (2022) and Florian Schorn (2022)- both possessing excellent size and potential. Finally, a true sleeper is Lincoln noseguard Austin Corley (2022) who is a tad undersized but truly is a high-motor nuisance for B10 centers and guards.