Ryan Buchholz comes in at the other No. 9 spot in our countdown of the top players for 2018. The redshirt junior should make a large impact on a defensive line that is replacing several of their standouts from 2017.
How He Got Here:
The Malvern, Pa. native has played in 23 of his team’s games in the past two seasons, including appearing in 13 of 14 games as a redshirt freshman, and starting six games in 2017. Buchholz opened both of his previous two years with sacks in the season opening games against Kent State and Akron (Watch out, Appalachian State.), and also recorded sacks against Northwestern and Michigan this past season.
What To Expect in 2018:
Penn State’s relative lack of experience at defensive line been discussed ad nauseam this offseason. At 6’6’’ and 284 pounds, Buchholz has the size to majorly disrupt offenses in 2018, and is one of the handful of players with multiple years of playing time coming into the season.
The sack against Northwestern showed both Buchholz’s ability to explode off the snap, and his strength to rip down Clayton Thorsen with just one arm (with Shareef Miller’s help). Against Michigan, he displayed the strength to push past linemen to get to the quarterback.
Buchholz is already making an impact as a leader for the defense, mentoring younger players such as Yetur Gross-Matos and Shane Simmons. That leadership cannot be overstated, and should pay dividends this fall. He may not end up posting double-digit sacks, but the combination of speed, strength, and athleticism that he possesses off the edge makes Ryan Buccholz a threat to backfields everywhere in 2018.