TOLEDO, Ohio — After a rough junior season at Toledo St. John’s Jesuit, Dallas Gant and his Titans football team hit the field for the first time in the 2017 season for a scrimmage against Sylvania (Ohio) Southview High School on Friday night.
The unquestioned leader of his team and his defense, Gant didn’t play much — he didn’t have to — but looked every bit the part of an Ohio State commitment. The future Buckeyes linebacker took just about 15 reps total, including one play on offense, split out as a wide receiver, in the very controlled scrimmage. The Titans are entering their first season with new coach Larry McDaniel, who is taking over for long-time St. John’s coach Doug Pearson.
There’s a lot of new things for Gant to learn as he heads into his final high school season, and that’s one of the reasons he committed back in May.
He wanted to take the focus off recruiting and put it where it belongs: his team.
“Things have been really relaxed,” Gant told Land of 10. “It’s been good to just talk about my team, and focus on my team. I know what’s expected of me here and I want to lead our team.
“I like the new system, and everyone here is working really hard. If everyone keeps working as hard as we’ve been, I think we can turn it around and get to the playoffs.”
Gant’s recruitment is shut down, and he’s not looking at any other schools. When he’s not working on his team, he’s working on himself. In the last eight months, the 6-foot-4, 230-pound linebacker has added nearly 25 pounds of muscle. The Buckeyes have noticed.
“I talk to the staff at Ohio State every week. Coach [Urban] Meyer, [offensive line] Coach [Greg] Studrawa and [linebackers] Coach [Bill] Davis,” Gant said. “Every time I see [Ohio State staff member Tim] Hinton he makes jokes, because he used to always tell me I was too small. I’m seeing the hard work translate to the game. I feel a lot better, I have the same explosiveness and speed that I had, but I’m just a lot thicker now.”
During a one-day camp in Columbus in June, Gant got a chance to work for the Buckeyes and Davis. It was a good opportunity to show how he’s progressing.
“It was good to get in front of the coaches,” Gant said. “I’ve got to keep working on everything, keep getting better at everything. Everyone’s really good at Ohio State, and I have to improve at everything.”
When Gant picked Ohio State over Notre Dame, he became the 10th-player in the Buckeyes’ top-ranked recruiting class and the second from Ohio. Now, with 16 commitments (and one de-commitment, so actually 17 verbals), there are still just two players from Ohio — Gant and Westerville South’s Jaelen Gill — committed to Ohio State. Gant isn’t concerned about that.
“You know, we’re the No. 1 class in the country, and I know the coaches are out there working hard to bring in the best guys,” he said. “Some guys are just taking their time, doing it their way. I think they’ll come join us when they’re ready.”
While Ohio State waits for players like Jackson Carman, Tyreke Smith and L’Christian Smith, Gant is trying to get to know the guys he’ll line up with in college. Part of that process will be getting to Columbus as often as possible this fall.
“I am going to talk to my coach and see what he thinks about missing Saturday workouts,” Gant said. “I want to be in Columbus as much as possible. I’m trying to get to know the linebackers better. I just talked to K’Vaughan Pope yesterday and me and Teradja Mitchell talk. I’m hoping to be there a lot this fall and I’ll take my official visit whenever the rest of the class is.
“I am trying to get to know our entire class better.”