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zigbeeDefensive Line call
#1
Ohio State has talent to rebuild rotation at defensive tackle
ByPATRICK MURPHY 20 hours ago [url=https://247sports.com/college/ohio-state/LongFormArticle/Ohio-State-football-has-talent-to-rebuild-rotation-at-defensive-tackle-Tommy-Togiai-Haskell-Garrett-Antwuan-Jackson-Taron-Vincent-Jerron-Cage-149577489/#]1




There may not be a less sexy position in college football than the interior of the defensive line. Even offensive linemen, who never get enough praise for what they do, receive recognition from coaches, teammates and those that know the game well when their blocking helps to create a big play. And they get drafted high.

Defensive tackles, nose guards, three techniques, whatever you want to call them, the interior defensive linemen are asked to do the dirty work to help stop the run and make it easier for pass rushers to get to the quarterback. Yet rarely do they get the praise they deserve.

Typically, however, these players arenâ€t looking for acclaim and go about their jobs knowing the impact they make on their teamâ€s defense. And while it may not be seen by a casual viewer or on the stat sheet, interior defensive linemen make quite the contribution on games.



Ohio State had a talented stable of interior defensive linemen a year ago, but have to replace all three who played the most in 2019 for this fall.

While the main talk when it comes to the Buckeyes and the defensive line will be in regards to [b]Chase Young[/b], the bigger issue -- given the Scarlet and Grayâ€s plethora of talent at defensive end -- is how Ohio State replaces those three interior defensive linemen.


[b]DaVon Hamilton[/b], [b]Jashon Cornell[/b] and [b]Robert Landers[/b] may have only combined for 72 total tackles and 10.5 sacks last year, but the group made life easier for Young and the rest of the defensive ends, as well as the linebackers behind them. The Buckeyes were top 10 in the country in rush defense and one of the better teams in the nation at getting the quarterback off his spot during dropbacks. That doesnâ€t happen without ability up the middle defensively.
“You have to keep growing,” defensive line coach [b]Larry Johnson[/b] said this spring. “You have to keep moving forward. Iâ€m looking forward to seeing what happens… Itâ€s not about just one guy. You know how I feel about that. It has to be two or three guys having great seasons. Thatâ€s always been the case here.”
While the Scarlet and Gray certainly lost talent in Hamilton, Cornell and Landers, there is ability waiting in the wings and some players who have already been contributors for Ohio Stateâ€s defense. [b]Tommy Togiai[/b], [b]Haskell Garrett[/b] and [b]Antwuan Jackson[/b] were all at one point top 100 recruiting prospects. All three also saw action in 2019 as part of Johnsonâ€s ongoing rotation at the two defensive tackle spots.



Set to enter his third year in the program, Togiai has long been labeled the strongest member of the Buckeye program. Reportedly able to bench press more than 500 pounds, the former four-star prospect and third-best defensive tackle in the 2018 recruiting class, according to the 247Sports Composite, who is listed at 6-foot-2, 300 pounds, is now ready to prove he is more than just strength.
Togiai hopes to build on a 16-total tackle, two-tackle for a loss season as a sophomore in 2020. As the defensive tackle with the most experience from a year ago, Togiaiâ€s development could be crucial to the Scarlet and Grayâ€s success up the middle.
“I think Iâ€ve improved a lot from last year,” Togiai said following the 2019 season. “Gained a lot of maturity too throughout this year. I think a lot of my technique has improved.
“With the (veteran players) just teaching me my steps and all that, helping me out, giving me pointers on how to play nose guard, that helps. Giving me tips on how to get off blocks and get better with my hands, that really helps.”



Replacing the lost production wonâ€t fall to Togiai alone, however. Garrett and Jackson are expected to be right there with the Idaho native on Ohio Stateâ€s defensive depth chart.
Garrett is the definition of an underrated interior defensive lineman. While his statistics wonâ€t jump off the page -- 20 total tackles and 2.5 tackles for a loss in three seasons -- he graded out as Pro Football Focus†top returning defensive tackle in the Big Ten this offseason.
While itâ€s taken time for the former four-star prospect out of Las Vegas†Bishop Gorman High School to make a major impact, Garrett will get his shot as a senior in 2020. A veteran of 33 career games for the Buckeyes, Garrett brings a level of experience and leadership necessary for this group of defensive lineman.
As a fifth-year senior, Jackson has been around the block. After originally committing to Auburn over Ohio State in 2016, the four-star prospect ended up at Blinn Junior College where he recorded 70 total tackles, nine sacks and three forced fumbles in 2017. On his second chance, Jackson chose Johnson and the Buckeyes and will have the opportunity to be a factor for the Scarlet and Gray in 2020.
“Itâ€s been awesome,” Jackson said after arriving in Columbus. “I know I may have chose Auburn at first, but now Iâ€m here and Iâ€m embracing it.”
After recording 13 total tackles and 3.5 tackles for a loss in limited time a year ago, Jackson will be part of Ohio Stateâ€s interior defensive line rotation this fall.
Johnson liked what he saw from Vincent in a small sample size the spring. If the third-year player can be a disruptive force in the middle of the defensive line, similar to Hamilton a year ago, Vincent could be one of the best defensive tackles in the Big Ten, if not the country.
“We want him to be a great pass rusher from three technique,” Johnson said. “Thatâ€s the guy whoâ€s the key to our defense a lot of times. He has to take on that role. He can play the run well. Heâ€s a physical player. Heâ€s the ideal of what we look for in that position.”
Like Vincent, Cage is a player who has been in the program for some time without much opportunity to contribute when it matters. The former four-star prospect from Cincinnati, Cage redshirted in 2017 before playing some in 2018. Cage recorded four total tackles and one tackle for a loss as a backup last season.
Cage will have to fight for time with the other players looking for snaps on the interior of the defensive line. But the fact that Johnson mentioned him shows he was making his mark at a position of need before practice stopped.



There are a few potential young options at defensive tackle as well for the Scarlet and Gray. Redshirt freshman [b]Jaden McKenzie[/b] played in only one game last season but recorded no statistics. Incoming freshmen [b]Darrion Henry-Young[/b], [b]Jacolbe Cowan[/b] and [b]Ty Hamilton[/b] could all slot at defensive tackle as well, although all also have the possibility of playing at defensive end.
These four are likely players for the future for the Buckeyes but always have to be ready in case their number is called sooner than expected.

When it comes to the defensive tackle positions, Ohio State understands the importance of filling the holes. Fortunately, the Buckeyes have players with talent and experience returning in 2020.
It is almost a certainty that Johnson will once again use a rotation on the interior of the defensive line, but how deep that will go will depend on how many of these players show they deserve playing time in fall camp. Togiai, Garrett, Jackson and Vincent seem like shoe-ins to be a part of the rotation, but will other players seize an opportunity as well or settle for backup roles in 2020?
That is a question we will wait to receive an answer.
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