Ohio State redshirt sophomore Taron Vincent was the No. 1 defensive tackle in the 2018 recruiting class. The Buckeyes signed him out of IMG Academy as a 5-star prospect and immediately had high hopes for him.
As a true freshman, Vincent played in 10 games, finishing with three tackles and a sack. While the numbers don’t jump out, Vincent was getting decent minutes by the end of the season. He even notched his lone sack in the Big Ten Championship Game.
Vincent spent that first season playing behind and learning from Dre’Mont Jones. He was then expected to compete for a starting spot heading into last season. Vincent battled with fifth-year senior Jashon Cornell and junior Haskell Garrett in the spring, more than holding his own.
A torn labrum, however, ended Vincent’s season before it ever began. He missed every game, but was finally back on the field this spring. While there were only three practices held, defensive line coach Larry Johnson liked what he saw.
“You know, it’s tough. You miss those reps; we can’t get those back. But I was really pleased that he returned from his injury really well,” Johnson said. “I think our staff did a great job of getting him ready. And just as we were getting going, you started to see some of those things that you recruited him for. Just unfortunate that we ended so early, but we’re hopeful we’ll get back together and get going again. I’m really looking forward to some big things from him going into the fall.”
Vincent plays the three-tech defensive tackle spot, which means he has to be a disruptive pass rusher as well as a penetrating run stopper. Johnson wants that position to be manned by talented pass rushers because they get to face guards instead of tackles, and guards aren’t always the ideal pass protectors.
The need for a pass rusher at the three tech is one reason why he has moved so many defensive ends inside. He’s done it with Adolphus Washington, Dre’Mont Jones, Jashon Cornell, and many others throughout his career. Vincent, however, has always been a defensive tackle. He’s just been quicker and more disruptive than most as a prospect.
“One thing Taron has really done a good job is develop his skills,” Johnson said. “We want Taron to be a great pass rusher at the three technique. You guys already know how I feel about the pass rush of the three-tech position. That’s the guy that’s a key to our defense a lot of times, so he has to take on that role. He can play the run well. He’s a very physical player. He runs about 295. He is really ideally what we’re looking for in a guy to play that position.”
This being Larry Johnson, he’s not putting everything on Taron Vincent’s shoulders. Far from it. Seniors Haskell Garrett and Antwuan Jackson are also part of the three-tech depth chart. There is a rotation being planned. Once fall camp gets under way, the order of that rotation will get figured out.
Johnson doesn’t know exactly how it will shake out, but he knows he’s glad Vincent is once again healthy and putting his hat into the ring.
“So hopefully between Haskell and Antwuan Jackson, some guys that can come in and really give him relief,” Johnson said. “But I think it will be a very competitive fall when we get going again. Who’s going to be the guy who jumps out? So that’s what I’m looking forward to. He has the skill set, and certainly has the mental phase of the game. Now it’s just a matter of playing football again.”