Even though he never started a single game for the Buckeyes last season, defensive end Jalyn Holmes was named Honorable Mention All-Big Ten by both the media and the conference coaches.
Holmes finished with 8.5 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks last season while rotating in and out of the lineup on a nearly snap-by-snap basis. And even when he wasn’t getting to the football, he was still disruptive.
“I tell you, if you go back and watch film on Jalyn last year, I thought he played the most consistent of all the guys,” defensive line coach Larry Johnson said this spring. “I think he is a starter in my mind. He practices like a starter and practices with the ones, so to me, he is a one.
“I think he brings a lot to the table. He has got high energy, great leadership skills, and he wants to be great. And a guy who works as he hard as he does to be in a position he is right now, I am really excited about what Jalyn can bring to the table. I look forward to watching him play going through this next year.”
Looking for the New Next
Another position that rotates just as much as the defensive line is the Ohio State receivers. Position coach Zach Smith wants a rotation of at least six players that he can rely on. This spring he had to move some players around in order to get a look that he liked. One of those players was Parris Campbell, who is now Ohio State’s No. 1 H-back.
Smith was asked this spring that if Campbell is OSU’s next Curtis Samuel, then who is the next Devin Smith or Michael Thomas.
“He’s not Curtis Samuel,” Smith said. “We’re not gonna have another Devin or Mike. I don’t know. As far as who’s going to make a play on a deep ball, Terry (McLaurin) has done a great job this spring doing it. Parris has done a great job doing it. Johnnie (Dixon) at times has done a great job. Ben Victor has a chance too. We’ll see who’s the most dynamic deep threat come fall, but right now I like the development and I like where we’re heading.”
One player who might not be that deep threat just yet is freshman Brendon White. White committed to Ohio State without a set position. When he showed up on campus, he was put with the linebackers. When the Buckeyes lost Noah Brown to the NFL, however, White was moved to receiver, which was a position he was excited to play.
That excitement was apparent in spring practice. Even though he was just learning the position, he already possessed some traits that can’t necessarily be taught.
“He’s doing really well,” Zach Smith said last month. “He’s doing really well. He has got a long way to go, but he’s a big, physical receiver and he catches everything. He’ll run a route with poor technique and everything wrong and he’ll still make a play. I always tell him that’s a good problem. We can get you coached up on how to run a route. It’s hard when a guy runs a perfect route and can’t make a play.”