The race to National Signing Day has begun. Sports Illustrated and Scout.com have partnered to provide complete coverage of college football recruiting. SI.com has been rolling out breakdowns of the top-ranked players at each position. Today, we’re looking at defensive ends. Last week we broke down quarterbacks, wide receivers, running backs and offensive linemen. Follow along daily with conference-by-conference recruiting shows featuring analysis, breaking news, prospect breakdowns and much more, all leading up to National Signing Day on Feb. 3.
1. Nick Bosa
High school: St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Height/Weight: 6’ 3’’/265 lbs
National rank: 2
Status: committed to Ohio State
Scout.com scouting report: “It is really hard to find anything wrong with this elite defensive lineman. He brings it each and every play for four quarters and others see that and feed off that. Very strong for a high school players. Plays with violent hands, speed to the ball, and leverage. Really works hands well. Is equally effective against the run as he is in the pass rush. Can be an elite five-technique on the next level. Football smart and can take over a game.”
The latest: Bosa, the brother of current Ohio State junior Joey Bosa, committed to the Buckeyes in July. The top-ranked player in Ohio State’s 2016 recruiting class, Bosa missed part of his senior season at St. Thomas Aquinas after suffering a knee injury. Before the injury, Bosa compiled 21 total tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and five sacks, according to MaxPreps.
High school: Junípero Serra (Gardena, Calif.)
Height/Weight: 6’ 4’’/239 lbs
National rank: 8
Scout.com scouting report: “Betiku has only played one year of football but showed quickly his high level upside. He's naturally strong, plays with a non-stop motor and is a high level athlete. He has good short area quickness for a rush end, can turn the corner and run down plays from behind. He's physical at the point of attack, can disengage and make a play as well. He's still raw technique wise and learning the game but few players have as much potential.”
The latest: Betiku decommitted from UCLA in October after initially pledging to the Bruins in August. Scout.com national analyst Greg Biggins detailed how Betiku was once considered a “solid USC lean.” The senior took an official visit to USC earlier this month, and the Trojans are now considered a strong contender to land him, even though the program recently parted ways with defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and defensive line coach Chris Wilson.
High school: McKinney North (McKinney, Texas)
Height/Weight: 6’ 4’’/240 lbs
National rank: 16
Status: committed to Texas A&M
Scout.com scouting report: “A high effort player. He is one who plays with maximum effort on each and every snap. He plays inside at defensive tackle in a 4-3, and despite being a bit undersized for that position he is able to control the line of scrimmage and make plays behind the line of scrimmage. Causes disruption with his penetration. Has the edge rush ability once he moves out to d-end. He has strong hands to shed blocks if he gets locked up. Plays low and gap sound.”
The latest: Last week Scout.com named Madubuike to its All-Midlands team. He’s the top-ranked player in a Texas A&M class that currently ranks 28th in the country. Madubuike has been committed to the Aggies since September and recently was invited to the Army All-American Bowl. Madubuike will join one of the nation’s top pass rushers, Myles Garrett, in Texas A&M’s defensive line rotation in 2016.
High school: Greenville (Greenville, Ala.)
Height/Weight: 6’ 4’’/256 lbs
National rank: 33
Status: committed to Auburn
Scout.com scouting report: “Davidson is really how you draw up a strongside end. Someone who can set the edge, play the run, and be very effective as a pass rusher. Anticipation off the ball can be a little better, but he plays fast, and he really knows how to close on the quarterback. Really flashes violent hands and when he stays low, he is tough to handle. Very good frame and has good reaction quickness. Needs to add moves off the ball and not be, just power.”
The latest: If there was any doubt over whether Davidson would end up at Auburn, he squashed it last week when he signed his financial aid agreement. The senior committed to the Tigers in September, but he later said that the commitment was at “75 percent.” In the end, Davidson elected to join a highly regarded group of early enrollees for Auburn.
High school: Lincoln (Gahanna, Ohio)
Height/Weight: 6’ 3’’/235 lbs
National rank: 35
Status: committed to Ohio State
Scout.com scouting report: “Outstanding athlete who fits best as an edge rusher. Explosive off the ball and has the quickness as well as the fast hands to be a highly effective pass rusher come college. Has all the physical talents to drop into coverage and play as a stand-up linebacker too, but is not as experienced in that department. Adding weight to his frame, but must continue to add size/strength to be more effective against the run.”
The latest: Cooper was named a finalist for the National Guard JJHuddle Ohio High School Football Defensive Player of the Year after recording 67 tackles, 18 tackles for loss and 12 sacks as a senior at Gahanna Lincoln. He committed to the Buckeyes last November and plans to enroll early after signing his financial aid agreement in August.
High school: Noxubee County (Macon, Miss.)
Height/Weight: 6’ 4’’/270 lbs
National rank: 38
Scout.com scouting report: “Simmons looks like an ideal fit for strongside defensive end in college. He is a very strong football player with the ability to play the run. He holds his ground well, he is very strong at the point of attack, and he can disengage to make the play. In the pass rushing department, he is sold there too. Needs to add moves for him to advance in this area, but has god short-space quickness and his hands are very active. Very aggressive.”
The latest: Will any program be able to convince Simmons to leave Mississippi? That’s the question many observers around the SEC are asking. Though Simmons is being pursued heavily by in-state programs Ole Miss and Mississippi State, he recently conducted an in-home visit with Alabama and also visited Tuscaloosa earlier this year. Simmons reportedly won’t announce his decision until signing day.
High school: Windward (Los Angeles)
Height/Weight: 6’ 4’’/220 lbs
National rank: 62
Status: committed to UCLA
Scout.com scouting report: N/A
The latest: Brandt committed to UCLA more than a year ago, in October 2014. He took his official visit to Westwood earlier this month. "The visit really just solidified my commitment," Brandt told Scout.com. "I spent a lot of time with the coaches and the UCLA family, just getting to know the guys. And it really solidified my commitment. The visit was just the icing on the cake for me."
8. Brian Burns
High school: American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.)
Height/Weight: 6’ 4’’/218 lbs
National rank: 64
Scout.com scouting report: “Burns is a rush end who could play standing up or with his hand down on the next level. Has a very good first step and is very quick off the ball. Speed makes him successful and he closes on the ball very well. Can get hands in passing lanes with length and can works the flats as well in coverage. Versatile player who has a frame to add good weight to. Will only improve as he improved technique and strength.”
The latest: Burns was invited to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in November. He had previously named Florida, Georgia and Alabama as his top three, but said in November, following an unofficial visit to Florida, that the visit “really helped a lot” and that it “exceeded my expectations,” according to The Gainesville Sun.
High school: DeMatha Catholic (Hyattsville, Md.)
Height/Weight: 6’ 4’’/227 lbs
National rank: 74
Status: committed to Penn State
Scout.com scouting report: “Simmons is long and gets up the field quickly. He does a good job of recognizing the play and staying true to his assignment. He has a decent swim move and gets to the quarterback with speed off the edge. He changes direction well and his length allows him to swallow up ball carriers. Adding strength and a rip move will make him much more difficult to block. He has the athleticism to play outside linebacker in a a 3-4 defense.”
The latest: Simmons was named the All-Met Defensive Player of the Year by The Washington Post last week after recording 82 total tackles, 23 tackles for loss, 16 sacks and three forced fumbles while helping DeMatha Catholic win its third consecutive WCAC championship. Check out how Simmons welcomed Nittany Lions coach James Franklin for an in-home visit earlier this month.
10. Isaiah Chambers
High school: MacArthur Senior (Houston)
Height/Weight: 6’ 3 1/2’’/235 lbs
National rank: 80
Status: committed to TCU
Scout.com scouting report: “Chambers is an impressive end prospect. He has a very nice combination of height and size and possesses the upper and lower body strength to squeeze and shed blockers who also have size. He moves well for his size with above average short area burst, which allows him to consistently put pressure on quarterbacks and deliver hits. It seems like he is hitting the quarterback or pressuring him more often than not. Can and will deliver big hits.”
The latest: Chambers is one of the most coveted defensive prospects in the Lone Star State in the class of 2016, earning scholarship offers from the Horned Frogs, Texas, Baylor, Houston and Texas A&M, in addition to other programs outside of the state. He ultimately committed to TCU in late September during a ceremony at his high school. Chambers was selected to compete with the U.S. Under-19 National Team in the 2016 International Bowl.