COLUMBUS, Ohio —Tracy Sprinkle is not a player Ohio State fans might label irreplaceable, but his teammates tell a different story.
The junior defensive tackle suffered a patella tendon injury against Bowling Green and is expected to miss the entire season. Although he had just four career tackles he started to come into his own at the end of the 2015 season, when injuries to Tommy Schutt and the suspension of Adolphus Washington increased his playing time.
“Tracy is the heart of the D-line, man,” defensive end Jalyn Holmes said. “It was hard dealing with that in the locker room. He’s everything to the D-linemen. I just feel for him right now because he took that loss, but he’s everything to us. It’s going to be hard to replace him, but he’s going to be with us throughout the whole process. I feel like we’ll be OK, but that’s a soldier that went down today and everybody on the team felt that.”
So who might replace Sprinkle? At the top of the list is redshirt freshman defensive tackle Dre’mont Jones, a converted defensive end who brings pass rushing ability to the interior. It could also open the door for DaVon Hamilton and Jashon Cornell to get more time in the rotation, but for now Jones appears to be the primary beneficiary.
“He’s a baller,” Holmes said of Jones. “He’s just got to keep going every day at practice and working on the little things.”
In the meantime, defensive end Sam Hubbard also noted that it will be up to the defensive ends to play better to mitigate any dropoff in performance on the inside
“Other guys like ends have to step up and improve their game pick up what he left behind,” he said before adding that he had faith that Jones and Hamilton would be able to step up.