Today’s Topic: What Separates Tyreke Smith?
Defensive end Tyreke Smith played in 13 of Ohio State’s 14 games last season as a true freshman, missing only the overtime thriller at Maryland.
He made such a quick impression on defensive line coach Larry Johnson that he was also part of the Buckeyes’ Rushmen package in the season opener against Oregon State.
Smith finished with just nine tackles on the season, but played more than any of the other freshman defensive linemen.
As one of the top defensive end signees in the nation last year, Smith came to Ohio State with high expectations. He believes he possesses a set of traits that makes him different than most defensive ends in college football.
“I think my strength, my quickness off the ball, my technique, my pass-rushing skills, I’ve got violent hands,” Smith said of what sets him apart. “Coach J, we work constantly on hand movement. I think he stresses that a lot, and I take that seriously. I feel like that’s a major thing with pass-rushing. So I feel like that’s a key thing for me. I’m strong on the run fit, so I think that’s a good thing.”
Last year did not surprise Smith. It’s not that he was promised anything, he just knew what he had done to earn this opportunity.
“I know how much work I put in,” he said. “I know how much dedication I put in. I know how much I was focused. I came in ready to grind, ready to do whatever it took. I asked Coach J, I said, ‘What do I have to do to play?’
“That was just a goal and a mentality, and I know I could rush, so I got in where I could fit in. I got in on the Rushmen package. Now I’m just trying to get better, instead of just being on a package, I’m trying to take my time and be a key part of the defense that everyone talks about.”
Tyreke Smith showed some flashes last year, and the amount of playing time that he received says quite a bit about what Larry Johnson thinks of him.
But there is no sense of satisfaction from last year, only a sense of purpose heading into 2019.
“Yeah, definitely just the beginning,” Smith said. “This year, there’s something different coming.“