Yesterday, we looked at the six Buckeyes on offense who are set to breakout this spring, so now it’s time to give the same treatment to the defense.
Most of last year’s Ohio State defense returns, which is a good thing as long as you don’t go poking your nose where it doesn’t belong (i.e. box scores, DVRs, and YouTube).
A new defensive staff was brought in by Ryan Day, so change is not only coming, but it is already here.
Scheme is changing, which means roles will be changing. Expect plenty of mixing and matching when it comes to personnel, which should give a number of players an opportunity to stand out this season.
Some of those players will be making their first major marks this spring. We’ll leave the freshmen out for now — even Zach Harrison, as well as Shaun Wade, since he has already broken out in my opinion. But there many others to discuss.
Baron Browning, Jr Linebacker
How in the world is Baron Browning a junior already? Ohio State’s defense will now have two inside linebackers, which will likely still be manned by Malik Harrison and Tuf Borland. The outside linebacker will depend on what they are trying to do, but Browning could figure in here on running downs. Or maybe Al Washington likes what he sees too much to take him off of the field. Browning has every bit of size and athleticism you could ever want in a linebacker.
Haskell Garrett, Jr Defensive Tackle
Haskell Garrett is another of the number of juniors from the 2017 recruiting class whose time is now. He has played a bit more each season, but now he will need to be in heavy rotation. Expect him to be a solid run stopper and earn some positive reviews from defensive line coach Larry Johnson this spring.
Josh Proctor, So Safety
Josh Proctor was in line for a large number of reps this spring as he competes for a starting job. Now with the news that Jordan Fuller is out for the spring, he is going to get even more than he expected. Proctor was in the two-deep last year as a true freshman and has shown a nose for the ball in practice. Now with an entire season under his belt, his understanding of the defense and feel for the game should begin to blossom.
Isaiah Pryor, Jr Safety
Greg Schiano was asking a lot of Isaiah Pryor last season. Heck, he was asking a lot of everybody. Too much, actually. Pryor had his struggles last season in a starting role as a true sophomore, but he improved as the defense simplified a bit. Now a junior with experience, Pryor has the size (6-2 200) you want at the position and the athletic ability to match. Now let’s see what kind of position his coaches can put him in this spring.
Tommy Togiai, So Defensive Tackle
Tommy Togiai is going to play somewhere on the defensive line because he’s too talented and too determined not to. He had the best spring of any freshmen last year, so nobody would be surprised if he had the best spring of any second-year players. There won’t be too much need for nose tackles Robert Landers and Davon Hamilton to get overloaded with reps, which should give Togiai ample opportunity to shine (assuming he is still at nose tackle).
Taron Vincent, So Defensive Tackle
Taron Vincent closed well last year playing the three tech behind Dre’Mont Jones and Haskell Garrett, but this spring he will be competing for a starting spot. He may provide more of a pass rush than Garrett, but will need to display an all-around game this spring. Expect the former 5-star prospect to do just that this spring.
Teradja Mitchell, So Linebacker
Sorry, but there’s no way to limit this to just six names. Even seven names leaves out players like Sevyn Banks, Dallas Gant, Tyler Friday, Tyreke Smith, K’Vaughan Pope, and a bunch of others. The linebackers will be learning a new scheme, so they should all get some work. In OSU’s new defense, Teradja Mitchell could play either inside linebacker spot, and he’ll be among a large group of others who can say the same.
Tyreke Smith, So Defensive End
Okay, I tried to stop at seven, but it didn’t feel right to leave Tyreke Smith out. With Chase Young and Jonathon Cooper having plenty of experience, we should see a lot of Smith and defensive end classmates Javontae Jean-Baptiste, Tyler Friday, and Alex Williams. Smith gets the most mention here because of how quickly he broke into the Rushmen package last year. He now must emerge as a member of the regular rotation at defensive end.