Based on comments from multiple coaches and players this spring – on both sides of the ball – Arakansas State’s defensive line should vastly improved this fall. It will probably be the strongest unit on defense, and one of the strongest on the entire team.
What has made the difference in the d-line? Four big bodies inside. Mid-term junior college transfers Jake Swalley (6-2 285) and Waylon Roberson (6-2 345) have teamed with UAB transfer Robert Mondie (6-2 315) and redshirt freshman Marcus Hudson (6-4 300) to take over the two-deep inside, forcing both Darrius Rosser and Chris Odom to defensive end. Chuks Ota, E.J. Sutton, and Cliff Thomas will continue to play inside. Ota (banged up this spring) and Rosser started games last year at DT, but aren’t even in the 2-deep inside going out of spring. Think about that. It is very, very good!
Not only is it good for the interior of the defensive line, but also it is good news for depth at defensive end. Odom was moved inside out of necessity last fall, and is moving back to his natural position, adding depth at defensive end. Darrius Rosser (6-3 284), who has spent two years at defensive tackle for the Red Wolves, now moves outside to push Chris Stone at defensive end. While freshman All-American Ja’Von Rolland-Jones is out with an injury, Auburn transfer Chase Robison (6-4 252) and Sophomore Caleb Caston (6-2 210*) are 1A and 1B at the other defensive end.
*Caston’s weight is off the roster at astateredwolves.com and probably has not been updated after a season in the conditioning program.
DE Stone Rosser
DT Roberson Mondie
DT Hudson Swalley
DE Robison Caston Rolland-Jones
Listen to D-Line coach Brian Early discuss his greatly improved group in this 95.3 The Ticket interview.
Coach Brian Early on Depth:
Our top four guys that have been in there inside were not on the roster last fall. It’s a totally different team. We do feel like we that have some depth. And our top eight or nine guys – we don’t feel like there’s a big drop-off from a talent standpoint. We have that type of depth now, the rotational depth, where when we substitute I think we can still compete at a high level, as opposed to last year when we substituted (there was) a major drop-off. We were crossing our fingers when we didn’t have our ones on the field. I don’t feel that same way – I’m not apprehensive at all now this spring to substitute and put that second bunch out there.