Ohio State landed one of the top recruiting classes last year and arguably the biggest name signed was defensive tackle Taron Vincent.
Vincent was the No. 1 defensive tackle in the class, playing at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, and signed with OSU over offers from Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, and others.
An active defender in high school, Vincent was known for his athleticism and ability to get into the backfield. He arrived with a very similar skill set to Buckeye starter Dre’Mont Jones.
With Jones already entrenched and backed up by Haskell Garrett, playing time was going to be difficult to find for Vincent. He did end up playing in 10 games, finishing with three tackles and a sack. Two of those tackles came in the first game of the year and the sack happened in the fourth quarter of the Big Ten Championship Game against Northwestern.
Vincent saw a handful of snaps throughout the season, but spent most of the year learning the necessities from defensive line coach Larry Johnson.
“He’s just that guiding hand on my back telling me to trust the process and you’ll make plays,” Vincent said. “Follow my technique and you’ll make plays.”
Coaches say that freshmen don’t even know what they don’t know yet, but Vincent grew up in a football family. His father Troy was a cornerback in the NFL for many years, so there was plenty of understanding of what college ball would be like. Also, playing at IMG is as close to college football as high school gets, so that also kept Vincent from diving too far from reality.
Even though he did notch a sack in the Big Ten Championship Game, he didn’t necessarily expect his freshman season to be full of big plays and bright lights.
“No, I wasn’t thinking like that,” he said. “I wanted to do my best just to contribute to the team because I knew Dre’Mont already had that three technique spot locked down. So I just wanted to contribute. That’s all.”
While playing where he could, Vincent also relied upon Jones to help him with the tips of the trade. Jones helped him where he could, but the example that he set may have spoken louder than anything said between the two.
“He told me to just enjoy the process and take my time,” he said. “He has taught me techniques. Just watching him, he’s a great player. Watching some of his moves that I can learn from. I’m just taking some pieces from his game.”
Playing in 10 games is no small feat for a true freshman defensive tackle. Vincent got better as the season went on. The more comfortable he was, the more snaps Larry Johnson was comfortable giving him.
Those snaps have only encouraged Taron Vincent and now he’s ready for what’s next.
“It’s given me a college experience,” he said. “So I’ve got my feet wet a little bit and now I know I’m ready and more prepared for next year. I’ll just to try my best to contribute to the team and make plays.”