Today’s Topic: Will the Buckeyes Be Able To Play All Of Their Defensive Linemen?
When the Buckeyes take the practice field this July for the start of fall camp, they will have 17 scholarship defensive linemen on the roster.
That equates to 20% of the allowed 85 scholarships, and gives OSU enough depth to go four deep at every spot and still have one guy left over.
And that’s if 6-foot-4, 235-pound linebacker Cade Stover doesn’t move to defensive end once he arrives this summer.
This spring, Ohio State went three deep at nose tackle, and that was with fifth-year senior Robert Landers sitting out with minor injuries.
In his place, fifth-year senior Davon Hamilton assumed command and led a productive spring for the second-year guys behind him.
“Davon has done a great job,” defensive line coach Larry Johnson said this spring. “He’s had a great, great spring. Then we’ve got Antwuan Jackson and Tommy Togiai, who’ve done a great job. I really feel good about the three guys I have. I said the other day it’s probably the best three guys I’ve had in a long time. I can interchange anybody and get the same kind of work for each guy. Those guys have had a great spring so far.”
At the other defensive tackle spot, the Buckeyes must replace Dre’Mont Jones, who left early for the NFL.
The job is currently up for grabs. At times it looked like sophomore Taron Vincent had taken the reins, but at the end of camp it was fifth-year senior Jashon Cornell running with the ones.
“Well, that’s in process. That’s the job. That’s what it’s all about,” Johnson said of replacing Jones. “We’ve got competition. We’ve got Taron Vincent, we’ve got Jashon Cornell who is fighting for a job behind him. And then we have another guy that has to fall in and do a great job, and that’s Haskell Garrett.”
All of those names, and Johnson believes there is enough room to play them all.
And there are just as many names at defensive end.
Eight talented pass rushers will be vying for playing time this season, and with guys like Chase Young and Jonathon Cooper at the head of the class, there may not be as much of a need to rotate.
In fact, one could argue that the depth charts are so talented at the top, that there are simply too many defensive linemen to play them all this season.
And if Larry Johnson was in earshot of that argument, he would stop you pretty quickly. It’s better to have them and not need them, than need them and not have them, after all.
And if they show that they can make plays, Johnson will make room.
“You can never have too many,” he said this spring. “You’re one play down and the next guy is up. I’ve never felt like we’ve had too many. We’ve got a plan to play those guys. It’s a long game. They’re all gonna play.
“We average about 75 plays a game, so if a guy gets 20 plays, some might play 35. You never know. I’m not going to say we’ve got too many. I like where we are right now, to be honest with you.”