COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State defensive end Jalyn Holmes has shown flashes of greatness.
He came to Ohio State in 2014 ready to play as a true freshman, seeing the field in 11 games — including the Big Ten title game and College Football Playoff finale. Holmes continued to play behind superstar Joey Bosa in 2015 before getting an expanded role in 2016.
Last year, he finished with 8.5 tackles for loss and 2 sacks. Against Oklahoma, he got free and tipped a Baker Mayfield pass that led to a Jerome Baker pick six.
It’s easy to see his growth since he arrived in Columbus:
|Year||Tackles||Tackles for loss-Yards||Sacks|
Holmes’ stats don’t convey the full measure of his contributions. Getting on the field as a true freshman on a national championship team was an achievement in itself. He’s also is a member of the deepest position group on the team, a unit with so much talent that defensive line coach Larry Johnson is talking about occasionally playing five defensive ends at the same time.
Because the ends split reps, they don’t put up big numbers individually. In the four-end Rushmen package, Holmes often played inside where sacks are hard to come by. For all those reasons, Johnson said Holmes’ play hasn’t been properly quantified.
“If you go back and watch film on Jalyn last year, I thought he plays the most consistent of all the guys,” he said. “He is a starter in my mind. He practices like a starter and practices with the 1s, so to me, he is a 1.
“I think he brings a lot to the table. He has got high energy, great leadership skills and he wants to be great. And a guy who works as hard as he does to be in [his] position, I am really excited about what Jalyn can bring to the table. I look forward to watching him play going through this next year.”
The Buckeyes will be as crowded as ever at defensive end, with everyone returning and 5-star signee Chase Young joining the mix. Johnson said Ohio State could go eight players deep at the position.
Even with fewer reps, Holmes could morph into an All-Big Ten player. He flashes natural athleticism and was impressive this spring during media viewing periods. Also, he made a huge leap from 2015 to 2016, his first season getting significant reps.
The second year as a starter is often when a player shows the most improvement, and Holmes will be able to supplement his natural pass-rushing ability with experience. Given what he’s accomplished, there’s reason to believe the 2017 season could be his best as a Buckeye.