Ohio State has three freshman linebackers on the roster this season, and with the new redshirt rules announced on Wednesday, you should expect to see each of them on the field this year.
One of those linebackers, however, has had a head start on the other two. Dallas Gant enrolled in January and took part in spring practice. The early-arrival from Toledo impressed teammates and coaches with his head-down, straight-forward approach. This month, however, he was finally joined by fellow rookies Teradja Mitchell and K’Vaughan Pope.
Mitchell came to Ohio State from Virginia Beach, where he was the No. 2 inside linebacker in the 2018 recruiting class. A run stopper, Mitchell did not have the benefit of spring football for the Buckeyes. Neither did Pope, the No. 9 inside linebacker out of Dinwiddie, Virginia. They did what they could to get ready, but it’s not the same as being on the practice fields in Columbus.
Gant spent his spring working at outside linebacker with the Buckeyes, gaining valuable experience along the way. Meanwhile, Mitchell and Pope were still in high school, itching to get to Columbus as soon as they could.
“Teradja and K’Vaughan. K’Vaughan’s a special athlete. They were up here for the spring game and I had a great time with them,” OSU linebackers coach Bill Davis said this spring.
“They’re so excited and they’re working so hard to be ready. What happens when you have Dallas Gant, who’s their same age already here, they’re champing at the bit at their high school and saying ‘I’ve got to keep up with Dallas and everything he’s getting done.’ I’m really excited about these young guys that are coming in. I hope and expect them to contribute.”
Mitchell and Pope didn’t take it easy while finishing up their high school careers, however. They were working to be ready for the moment when they finally arrived on campus. And if they were going to catch up with Gant, a running start would be the better idea.
So Ohio State gave the players a plan to follow and they checked in with them periodically because they wanted them to be ready to compete as soon as they showed up.
“We always have a plan on their weights and their conditioning and what their bodies are shaping into,” Davis explained. “We talk to them about the scheme and where we see them.”
Before Pope and Mitchell arrived, there were also Buckeye players staying in contact with them. Keeping them abreast of the situation at the WHAC and what would be required of them. Now that everyone has enrolled, they are experiencing all of it first hand.
Even though Dallas Gant got a head start, what is happening now is not a surprise for Teradja Mitchell or K’Vaughan Pope. They have been looking forward to getting here and they were preparing all along the way.
“It’s a good mix. We have a great plan here,” Davis said. “We always have a solid plan in place so kids are ready to go and not behind in any way.”