Chet Kuplen of Sports in Kansas takes a look at top returning players in the state position by position. Defensive Lineman is always a loaded list in the state of Kansas with many of our prized recruits over the years coming from the position. However, our lists aren’t just prospect based as we cover the high school seasons of football, not just potential or recruiting.
This list is not ranked by player or a recruiting list. Research is compiled from our all-state teams last year, stats from last year, all-league selections, off-season combines and input from other media members/coaches. Chet Kuplen of Sports in Kansas conducts premium player evaluations of players every year that are looking to play at the next level. If you’re interested in this premium service, please contact [email protected] as we have helped hundreds of athletes across the state over the last 11 years.
Jayden Woods, Mill Valley
Woods, a junior this fall, is one of the nations top recruits as a defensive lineman in the class of 2025 with multiple power five offers. He was a first team all-state pick from SIK last year as well as a non-senior POY pick from SIK in 2022 for 4x defending state champion Mill Valley.
Julian Marks, Aquinas
Marks will be one of the best in the state this season. While he didn’t rack up a lot of accolades last season as an all-league honorable mention pick in the EKL, he has blown up all over in the recruiting world with multiple FBS offers. We expect him to be one of the best defensive players in Kansas this season and he’s only a junior. He’s likely the largest on the list along with Kaedin Massey (6’8” 280) as Marks is 6’8” and 275 pounds.
Holden Bass, Nemaha Central
Bass is one of the most underrated players in the state and may be the best two-way lineman in Kansas. He has a couple of years of being an all-state selection under his belt and won a state title as a junior last season. He was also a finalist for the SIK 2A DPOY last fall after earning first team non-senior honors.
Roman Hauser, Norton
The 6’4” 225 pound senior was a finalist for the 2A DPOY from SIK last season. He had 52 tackles, 13 sacks, four forced fumbles and 14 TFLs.
Truman Griffith, Mill Valley
Joel Applebee told us that Griffith is one of the best he’s had at MV and that’s saying something as he returns for his senior season.
Kason Messenger, Cheney
Messenger was a unanimous all-league pick in 2022 as a junior. Cheney is certainly a team to circle on the 3A West. Messenger is 6’1” 220 and is long with a 77” wingspan. He picked up 61 tackles, 10 TFLS and four sacks last season.
Holden Ziegler, Council Grove
Ziegler was a non-senior pick and all-2A pick from SIK last season. He had 48 tackles, 14 TFL, 6 sacks and 3 FR last season for a much-improved CG team. Great size at 6’3” 255 and only a junior.
Kainen White, Coffeyville, Keiton Jones, Coffeyville, Joseph Neunschwander, Coffeyville
White was a first team non-senior from SIK and All-4A selection one season ago with over 70 tackles and 20 plus tackles for loss. The Golden Tornado also have Keiton Jones who was a player listed on our OL to watch list and Joseph Nuenschwander.
Kian Payne, Aquinas
Payne was a first team all-non senior last season for Aquinas who should have one of the best defensive lines in the state this season. 4A offensive lines and EKL offensive lines will have their hands full this year.
Lorenzo Johnson, Schlagle
Johnson was a second team non-senior pick for the Stallions in 2022. He should be one of the better defensive lineman in the metro this season. Johnson had 73 tackles, 20 TFLs and 14.5 sacks last year.
Lincoln Stueve, Blue Valley
Stueve earned second team All-Non senior honor from SIK in the fall of 2022 as a junior. Blue Valley has a lot of nice pieces back for a traditional power EKL/6A program.
Jalen Wilson, Miege; Arasto Sadeghi, Miege
Wilson will look to lead the defensive line for the Stags after a second team non-senior season from SIK last fall. Sadeghi was also a second team all-non senior pick for Miege. Miege will look to defend its title in a loaded 4A east that also features STA and SJA.
Kooper Tichenor, Holcomb
While some know Tichenor more on the OL side he will be one of the best defensive lineman in 3A this season for Holcomb and first year head coach Trey Teeter. He was an all state pick in 3A from SIK last season.
Kaedin Massey, Lyndon
While Massey has signed FBS with Kansas State at OL he will be one of the best defensive lineman in all of the small classes in Kansas. 8M-I Lyndon is a serious threat to win it all this season.
Packson Bettis, Washburn Rural
Bettis was a first team all-state pick on 6A defense last season and will look to be part of a loaded group for Washburn Rural.
B.J. Canady, Topeka
Canady is one of the highest ranked recruits in the state out of Topeka High. He was limited to four games last season due to injury. He has college-ready size at 6’5” and 260 pounds. His sister, NiJaree, a former SIK POY in softball, is one of the best college softball players in the country for Stanford.
Barrett Lietz, Rossville
Lietz is the state powerlifting champion at 220 pounds. The explosive senior was an all-state honorable mention pick in 2022 and also a first team All-MEL pick at DL. Expect a big year for the Dawgs in 2A.
Dalton Roush, Holton
Roush was a non-senior pick last year and a first team 3A all-state selection for the always powerful Holton Wildcats. Expect him to be one of the best two-way players in 3A.
Tre Birch, Wichita Northwest
Birch was an all-state honorable mention pick last season. He was also a first team all-city league pick in a league that was loaded with top-notch defensive lineman.
Drake Kotzman, Girard
At 6’6” 340, Kotzman is one of the biggest players in the state. He’s also one of the best in 3A. He made major improvements to his game last year and has gotten better every year. After talking with coach Philpot in the preseason, he expects even bigger things for the senior this fall after a 3A honorable mention all-state season in 2022.
Tristen Davidson, Kingman
Davidson was an all-state pick in 2A last season for the state runner-up Eagles. While Kingman loses a lot of key pieces they do return some stars on both sides. He was all-league first team on both sides of the ball.
All earned some type of all-state honor on either offensive line and defensive line in 2022. We feel that Sabetha is one of the teams to beat this season in 2A football. Josh Grimm, Jacob Grimm, Tyler Menold and Christian McAfee can play either DE or OLB.
Caiden Hoffman, Hoisington
Hoisington will be one of the favorites in 2A this season and a big reason why is their play up front on both sides led by Hoffman who was a 2A all-state pick on OL last season. He will look to be one of the top two-way players in the class.
Roman Hernandez, Russell
Hernandez will be one of the best players in 2A this season after an all-state selection in the class in 2022 as a junior. Russell program is headed in the right direction under Christien Ozores.
Brody Weir, Wellington
Weir, a junior, had 11.5 sacks last year for the Crusaders. He should be among the top returnees on the defensive line in his league this season and could be a potential player to circle in 4A. Weir is 6’4” and 235 pounds.
Jude Meseke, Wabaunsee
Meseke makes the list off his 9.5 sack performance as a sophomore last fall. He should be one of the top pass rushers in 1A football for the next two seasons.
Jordan Rodriguez, Ellsworth
Rodriguez was a first team all-2A pick last season on the defensive line. Ellsworth was much improved in 2022 and Rodriguez was a big part of that.
Jade Tenry, Colgan
Tenry will be one of the best two-way lineman in 1A this season for the Panthers. We expect Colgan to be a major contender on the East. Tenry is back with Tristan Voss, also an all-state honorable mention selection last season. The two will both compete for all-state honors in 1A this season.
Atticus Martin, St. Marys
Martin returns after an all-1A season last fall for the state champion Bears. While many may not be talking about St. Marys they return quite a few pieces on both sides of the ball but will have to figure out a replacement for four-sport all-state athlete Keller Hurla who was the 1A SIK POY and Top 11 last season. Martin was also first team All Mid-East League at DL.
The MCL brings back a ton of talent on the defensive line this season, some mentioned in this article and few more will be below. Roman Hauser of Norton, Roman Hernandez of Russell, Rad Rodriguez of Phillipsburg and Caden Seems all return after first team all-league seasons last year. Additionally, Kendall Walker is back for TMP who was a first team OL in the league and a second team DL. Jason Desbien of Smith Center, Walker and Mason Hogan of Plainville were also second team all league picks on the DL. Hogan is 6’5” and 280 pounds and a player to keep an eye on in 2024.
Brody McManamon, BV West
Should be one of the better EKL lineman on the defensive side of the ball this season. Earned second team all-non senior last year from SIK.
Brock Heath, Blue Valley Northwest
Heath will be a junior this fall for Clint Rider and the Huskies. He will be a two-way player on the OL/DL and will look to fit a DE spot on the defense. We expect him to be one of the top two-way players in the class of 2025 when its all said and done. He holds multiple FBS offers. His older brother Jackson was a multiple time all-state selection at SIK.
Khris Hermosillo, Wichita County
Hermosillo was a first team 8M-I all-state pick last season on the DL and had a great year at RB for the state champions in the classification. Expect him to be one of the top two way players in the class and he’s only a junior.
8M-II. Seth Schwien, Victoria; Eli Broxterman, Axtell, Sawyer Deters, Axtell
Schwien was a first team 8M-I all-state pick last season for Victoria. Broxterman is back for Axtell after earning all-state honors as a sophomore. Deters was an all-state pick as well on the defensive line as a junior. Axtell looks to be loaded once again in 2023 after capturing back to back state titles.
Ruckle was the 6-Man Co-DPOY from SIK last season in 6-Man for Cunningham. We expect him to once again be one of the top players in the class.
Sports in Kansas Other Top Defensive Lineman in Kansas to Watch for 2023 season:
Mason Hopper – Derby, Isaiah Butler – Olathe NW, Hayden Puryear – Junction City, Christian Gonzalez – Shawnee Heights, Mason Jones – Hutchinson, Dee’Onn Jones – Great Bend, Kyrece Robinson – Topeka West, Trey Heitsman – Valley Center, Charlie Woleben – De Soto, Kyrce Robinson – Topeka West, Kaiden Abasolo – Mulvane, Evan Damron – Piper, Lavonte McGowan – Atchison, Kyle Newsome – Andover Central, Jace Henderson – Buhler, Braylon Berry – Clay Center, Sebastian Gonzalez – Hugoton, Sutten Sleezer – Burlington, Kam Yarbrough – Bishop Ward, Danny Boeken – Iola, Tristan Sprole – Collegiate, Jorge Cerceres – Lyons, Connor Hermann – Halstead, Garren Goodner – Humboldt, Tyler Menold – Sabetha, Rad Rodriguez – Phillipsburg, Caden Seems – Phillipsburg, Brody Litton – Beloit, Mason Springer – Neodesha, Harlem Miller – Medicine Lodge, Blake Pauly – Conway Springs, Rayce Fisher – Onaga, Gus Grote – Jayhawk Linn, Mason Jackson – Oakley, Nathan Brensten – Conway Springs, R.B Tweed – Jeff County North, Tristan Voss – Colgan, Jonathan Mason – Ellinwood, Bryce Johnson – Pleasanton, Gabe Riffel – Sterling, Samuel Suter-Tan, Hutch Trinity, Solomon Drinkard – Valley Falls, Christopher Michel – Wichita County, Maddex Moreno – West Elk, Camden Polifka – Quinter, James Granger – Macksville, Lane Darbro – Madison, Logan Meier – Lincoln, Quintin Wait – Trego, Sam Watkins – Hoxie, Jon Mader – Hoxie, Kaden Arensman – Kinsley, Kolson Cook – Bucklin, Waylon Dolezal – Bucklin, Dodge Fromholtz – St. Francis, Nathan Goheen – Osborne, Zachary Kirkpatrick – St. Paul, Matt Patterson -Hodgeman Co., Kyle Huser – Victoria, Jason Strickland – Blue Valley Southwest, Sam Kendig – Osborne, Gentri Holub – Centre, Landen McPahil – Ashland, Trent Schnittker – Cunningham, Brady Ketzner – Cheylin, Conner McPherson – Cheylin, Damarian Shaw – Junction City, Trevor Widener – Olathe East, Carter Burnett – Wellington, MJ Wash – Mill Valley, Mason Jones – Hutchinson, Jackson Marlar – Newton, Christian Hansen – Maize, Travis Nicholson – Eisenhower, Pablo Martinez – Goddard, Wyatt Burgess – Wamego, Jackson Ziegler – Wamego, David Holguin – Garden City, Trenton Kern – Great Bend, Matrix Eames – Goddard, Zerrick Vargas – Winfield, Tristan Sprole – Collegiate, Ian Auoad – Andale, Jamond Lane – Washburn Rural, Logan Stevens – Manhattan, Brock Bourgeois – Pratt, Brody Bell – Kingman, Finn Cusick – Miege, Harper Engel – SMNW, Cru Huenfeld – Aquinas, Chris White – BV Northwest, Braxton Guetterman – St. James, Mana Faagutu – Blue Valley, Wade Enman – Paola, Keanu Tiafau – Spring Hill, Tommy Evans – Ottawa, Jake Van Horn – Baldwin, Tanner Gooden – Scott City, Sam Hampton – Bishop Carroll, James Moore – Wichita West, Khalik Thomas – Wichita SE, Julius Lyons – Wichita East, Porter Blanton – Wichit East, Malcom Duckworth – Wichita Heights, Romello Golston – Wichita Northwest, Zach Oswald – Lebo, Timmy Roberts – Burlingame, Josiah Monday – SE Saline, DJ Messerly – Chapman, Gunner Rockhold – Oskaloosa, Noah Wheeler – Anderson County, Miles Newell – South Sumner, Cade Small – Chanute, Andrew Yarnell – Olathe North, Hyrum Vaeono – Free State, Ken Allen – Lawrence, Sam Bles – Olathe West, Cortez Velasco – SM West, Patrick Doyle – Oswego, Drake Slifer – Valley Heights, Caden Gedney – Basehor Linwood, Trevor Carmichael – Basehor Linwood, Caeleb Taylor – Olathe North, Spencer Easley – Gardner Edgerton, Brady Whitman – BV North, Jake Brink – Olathe NW, L.J. Lynch – Piper, Alonzo Gatlin – KC Washington, Hunter Houser – Goddard, Adrian Burney – Highland Park,