Keep in mind that this is who I am projecting to start the Purdue game, and just the Purdue game. The two surprises are the Marshall transfer Aiken and Harrah. I think that those two are better every down fits for this scheme than some of the people they are competing with. Harrah is going to be battling Jerrell Jordon for that starting spot. I like Harrah to start, he has the size at 6'5" 260 plus to be a force as a run stuffing strong side defensive end. Harrah isn't exceptional at any one thing, but he has all the tools in the tool box, thats what makes him valuable. Aiken is a one gap DT and he is very disruptive, a quality that was lacking last year with Wolfe and Hughes plying their trade in the NFL. I am not sure that some of the other DT options can bring that disruptiveness to the position.
Jerrell Jordan, Terrell Hartsfield, Josh Posley
Jordan and Hartsfield are the guys that everyone will be keeping an eye on. Some time in a college strength and conditioning program has surely added some weight to their frames, but how much. In an ideal world one of these three will become a situational pass rusher to replace Harrah on obvious passing downs. Posley doesn't have the height or the long arms that are ideal for the position. But he is relentless and he played quite a bit as a true freshman.
At some point one or more of these guys will be knocked out of the rotation, the question is who. Beard was a starter last year, and was a great fit for the horizontal style of play that UC employed under former DC's Tim Banks and John Jancek. The new one gapping approach isn't so obviously in his wheelhouse. Dempsey played a ton last year and is back. The wildcard for me is Alex Pace, he has the highest ceiling of any of UC's tackles, the only question is whether or not he can put it all together. If he does it in camp I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see him make a run at starting