Ohio State had to replace Dre’Mont Jones this spring, and while it wasn’t easy, there were options.
The Buckeyes had plenty of depth working this spring at both nose tackle and three technique, which is the position that Jones once played.
Returning nose tackles Robert Landers and Davon Hamilton give the Buckeyes tremendous experience, and they’ll be needed as they bring along a group of second-year tackles who are going to be counted on this season.
9 Jashon Cornell, rSr (6-3 280) AND
6 Taron Vincent, Soph (6-2 293)
92 Haskell Garrett, Jr (6-2 295)
98 Jerron Cage, rSoph (6-2 295)
67 Robert Landers, rSr (6-1 285) AND
53 Davon Hamilton, rSr (6-4 310)
72 Tommy Togiai, Soph (6-2 300)
90 Antwuan Jackson, rJr (6-2 299)
Fifth-year senior Jashon Cornell came to Ohio State as a defensive end, but quickly moved to defensive tackle. Last year, he was moved to defensive end because of depth issues, and finished with 15 tackles, two tackles for loss, and one sack. This spring, he was back at the three tech and by the end of camp he was at the top of the depth chart. Cornell’s burst and speed are better suited to a north/south attack from nearer the ball, rather than a wide, swooping pass rush from the edge.
“You can never have too many. 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.” — Larry Johnson on the depth on the interior.
Sophomore Tommy Togiai lost his black stripe in the spring a year ago and was in the rotation at nose tackle last season behind veterans Robert Landers and Davon Hamilton. He stayed at nose tackle this spring and performed very well. Landers was out with minor injuries, so Hamilton and Togiai ran with the ones for most of camp. It was a productive experience for Togiai, who continued to show he can play at this level. Defensive line coach Larry Johnson has said that Togiai has the ability to play both tackle spots. Given the depth ahead of him at nose tackle, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him maybe playing some three tech this year as well.
The Buckeyes have three fifth-year seniors at the top of their depth chart in nose tackles Robert Landers and Davon Hamilton, and three tech Jashon Cornell. That is more experience than most Big Ten teams will have this season. While Cornell hasn’t played as much as the other two, he has still seen action in 26 games over the last two seasons. Behind them are a slew of former High School All-Americans who have talent, but have had to sit behind some talented players the last year or three.
Sophomore Taron Vincent will compete with Jashon Cornell and junior Haskell Garrett to start opposite the nose tackles. Whether he wins the job or not, he will still factor into the rotation heavily. Vincent spent much of the spring splitting first-team reps with Cornell, and he may have more disruptive ability than anybody else on the interior. As he continues to get stronger, his upfield burst will be put to even better use.
One of the benefits of not having Robert Landers this spring was that fourth-year junior Antwuan Jackson got some good reps at nose tackle. Larry Johnson said he was able to rotate through Davon Hamilton, Tommy Togiai, and Jackson and not miss a beat. Teammates were also saying good things about Jackson, almost bordering on surprise in how well he was playing at times. Last year was tough for the junior college transfer, but he still has two years to get up to speed. This spring was more than a few steps in the right direction.