Ohio State football: Defensive tackle emerging as position of strength for Buckeyes
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Who will make the biggest impacts at DT
— Todd Mowery (@todd_mowery) March 7, 2018
The situation on the interior of the Ohio State defensive line once felt like it had the potential to get a little perilous. Now that group is so deep it’s lending tackles to help fill out the depth chart at defensive end this spring. Clearly everything is going to be just fine for the Rushmen this season, and the big guys are going to be a big reason for that success.
Obviously getting Dre’mont Jones to return for another season was a major boost, no doubt about that. But the Buckeyes also had been planning for a youth movement on the inside for a couple years, and now the fruits of Larry Johnson’s recruiting labor are starting to become apparent. If Ohio State weren’t confident in the options it has in the fold this spring, it wouldn’t be having Jashon Cornell drop weight to slide back out to the edge to bolster a four-man rotation at end. And with Jones holding down one of the inside jobs, that actually might be Cornell’s clearest path for playing time given how heated the competition for playing time for that other inside starting position will be.
Robert Landers has the edge at this point to claim the other starting role, and his quickness and knack for beating blockers into the backfield is going to make him a valuable weapon for Ohio State. He’s sometimes overlooked because of his relative lack of size, but he packs a strong punch in that generously listed 6-foot-1 frame. Behind Landers, look for Haskell Garrett to make a strong push. He arrived on campus as one of the most coveted prospects at the position in the country last year before dealing with injuries as a freshman. And facing something of make-or-break years, Davon Hamilton and Malik Barrow both bring plenty to the table from a physical standpoint that could help them find playing time.
On top of that, Ohio State has both junior-college transfer Antwuan Jackson and 4-star signee Tommy Togiai on campus this spring to bolster the depth. Jackson isn’t completely cleared yet from an injury to his left foot sustained at the end of last year, but he’s had some time to develop since high school and is another tantalizing option for Johnson to work with once he gets completely healthy.
Considering the way Ohio State prefers to operate by frequently rotating defensive linemen, it will need a couple of those candidates to deliver impressive springs to emerge as a factor by fall. Landers appears to be the surest bet for the other starting role at defensive tackle and has a chance to really make an impact this year. But clearly he’s not alone at the position, which has gone from a possible question mark to a position of strength in a flash.
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