[This is the 23rd in a series where The-Ozone looks back on each member of the 2018 signing class and the impact they had this past season, as well as the impact they could have this coming season.]
Tommy Togiai came to Ohio State from Highland High School in Pocatello, Idaho where he was the No. 3 defensive tackle in the 2018 recruiting class and the No. 55 player in the nation overall. He signed with OSU over offers from Washington, Arizona State, Oregon, Penn State, USC, UCLA, TCU, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
Tommy Togiai enrolled early last year and made his mark earlier than any other freshman. He was the first rookie to lose his black stripe last year, and he did it during spring ball, which was unheard of at the time.
How did it happen?
“He just did everything right,” Urban Meyer said at the time. “It’s hard. Ryan Stamper, my player development guy, watches very closely. It’s something that we don’t take lightly. He’s got a wonderful family, all the way from Idaho, to come this far away, and to be the first black stripe guy, that’s a heck of an honor. He just did everything right. He practices really hard and takes care of his academics. He’s a great guy to have on your team.”
Togiai played in 12 games last season, finishing with 10 tackles and 2.0 tackles for loss. He eventually settled in at nose tackle, and was still able to get on the field despite playing behind fourth-year juniors Robert Landers and Davon Hamilton.
So Now What
The depth chart doesn’t get any thinner at nose tackle, but the Buckeyes did lose three tech Dre’Mont Jones to the NFL. Jones was backed up by Haskell Garrett and Taron Vincent last year, but perhaps defensive line coach Larry Johnson could put Togiai there this spring to figure out his best grouping?
All of that will eventually be settled, but Togiai’s size (6-2 300), athleticism, and determination makes him a guy who could fit anywhere on the interior, and that’s a net positive for the Buckeye defense.
“Tommy is probably one of the strongest guys on the squad,” Johnson said recently. “He’s got great leverage, great feet, great hands. Very explosive. When you see him go, you’ll be surprised all of the speed that he has. He can run.”
Just based on last year’s depth chart, the Buckeyes are two-deep at both tackle spots without Togiai, but wherever he ends up will immediately be three deep and with no reason to expect a drop off.
If he is at nose tackle, he will again find a way to get on the field despite having two long-time veterans in front of him. If he is at three tech, he may end up being your week one starter.
Regardless of where he ends up, however, you won’t have to look long to find him.