The Ohio State defense will be bolstered this week by the return of fifth-year senior nose tackle Michael Hill. Hill has spent the first half of the season serving an undisclosed suspension, but defensive coordinator Greg Schiano confirmed on Tuesday that Hill will be back in the mix Saturday night.
“It’s a good shot in the arm to get a guy back who is experienced and who has played,” he said. “Again, I don’t know what it’s going to be. How much playing time he’ll see. That will all play out how [Larry Johnson] plans to use him, but he’s an experienced guy who has played really good football for us over time.”
The suspension hasn’t been easy for anyone to deal with, but the coaches worked hard to keep Hill’s head up.
“We all have, but you know Mike has taken a great attitude about it, and now it’s done, so we’ve got to go,” Schiano said.
Hill started every game at nose tackle for the Buckeyes last year, anchoring a defensive line that was one of the best in the nation. His presence also freed up the Ohio State linebackers to earn several postseason accolades. He finished with 21 tackles and three tackles for loss last season in helping the Buckeyes hold opponents to just 123.9 yards rushing per game.
In Hill’s place has been fifth-year senior Tracy Sprinkle, who will likely continue to start. Hill will need to catch up to game speed and game conditioning.
The Buckeyes are also expected to have defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones back this week from a severe cut on his leg.
“So far so good,” Schiano said. “We’ll see. I don’t know what that means by the end of the week. But what we asked him to do today, he looked good. So we’ll just keep going step by step.”