Who gets the call to be on the list of IHSA Defensive Ends of the Decade (2010-2019)? If there's one thing we learned about the past ten years, it's that the Big Ten Conference is very keen on local talent at this position.
Same rules apply to this list as with previous positions in regards to the top five: Do you factor in just strictly high school production and program winning/success, or does a particular player's post high school success also become a factor? Let the debate begin:
Dean Lowry, Rockford Boylan's Class of 2012 (Northwestern): Lowry was a starter on back-to-back undefeated IHSA state championship teams for Boylan (2010 Class 6A title and 2011 Class 7A state title). He was also was a multi-sport athlete for head coach Dan Appino and company. He was a back-to-back All-State player in his junior and senior seasons. Lowry signed with Northwestern coming out of high school after drawing several other Big Ten-level scholarship offers. Lowry was a fourth round selection of the Green Bay Packers in the 2016 NFL Draft and Lowry has played in every game this season.
Demetrius Cooper, Julian Class of 2013 (Michigan State): Cooper, who was a 6-foot-5, 220 pound rush end, attended his first three years of high school at Morgan Park before transferring to Julian for his senior year. Cooper, who sat out his junior year because of an injury, was one of the most sought-after defensive ends in the nation in the Class of 2013 and decided on Michigan State over Notre Dame along with several other Power Five schools.
Chris Slayton, Crete-Monee's Class of 2013 (Syracuse): Slayton was a key part of the Warriors' 2012 undefeated 14-0 Class 6A state title team. He was also named as an All-State player in 2012 and led the Warriors defense with 61 tackles, nine sacks and three forced fumbles. Slayton signed with Syracuse after adding offers from 16 FBS level schools including Illinois, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. Slayton was a seventh round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft of the New York Giants and was on the Giants practice squad this season and was activated in Week 17 against the Eagles.
A.J. Epenesa, Edwardsville's Class of 2017 (Iowa): Epenesa, who was a four-year starter and a three-year All-State player for the Tigers and led Edwardsville to the state playoffs in all four seasons. He was also a three sport athlete (football/basketball/track) at the Metro East school. Epenesa signed with Iowa after adding offers from multiple Power Five programs across the country and was ranked as the nation's top defensive end in the Class of 2017. Epenesa just announced this week he is declaring for the 2020 NFL Draft.
Devin O'Rourke, Lincoln-Way East's Class of 2018 (Northwestern): O'Rourke, who was a two-time All-State player at Lincoln-Way East and head coach Rob Zvonar and was a major contributor to the Griffins' undefeated 2017 Class 8A state title. O'Rourke signed with Northwestern after considering offers from Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, Penn State, Rutgers, Wisconsin and Notre Dame.
Riley McMinn, Rochester's Class of 2011 (Iowa)
Dewayne Hendrix, O'Fallon's Class of 2014 (Tennessee/Pitt)
Josh King, Hinsdale South's Class of 2016 (Michigan State)
Dylan Thompson, Montini Catholic's Class of 2014 (Ohio State)
Thomas Schaffer, Lake Forest Academy's Class of 2016 (Stanford)