“Honestly, it could have been just about any offensive line in the country and Larry Johnson’s group might have dominated just like it did in the Horseshoe on Saturday — or more importantly, like it did during more meaningful scrimmages previously in camp.”
There has been no shortage of takeaways and analysis of Ohio State’s spring game this past Saturday afternoon. It was the first chance for many to take a good look at the product new head coach Ryan Day will be putting on the field this season. Most of the focus has been on the quarterbacks, specifically the duel between Justin Fields and Matthew Baldwin for the starting position, and also the secondary, featuring a number of players fighting for the second starting safety position and the debut of the new “bullet” position. However, one area worth taking a closer look at is the defensive line.
There is good reason people have not be overly concerned with Larry Johnson’s unit. Over the past few seasons, it has been the most consistent and dominant group on the Buckeye defense, and perhaps on the entire team. This year’s D-line will feature some fresh faces as well as returning guys with something to prove. While stars like Nick Bosa and Dre’Mont Jones have moved on to the NFL, Ohio State has been able to successfully reload rather than rebuild.
During the spring game, the defensive line was able to get pressure on the QBs with ease time and time again. Some of this could be attributed to a short-handed offensive line that is continuing to find its way as the offseason continues, but most of it is presumably the result of OSU featuring an extremely talented and deep group of guys that should gain national recognition this season, spearheaded by defensive ends Chase Young and Jonathon Cooper.
Young and Cooper combined for 12 sacks and 21 tackles for loss off the edge a season ago. Joining them this year is rising star Tyreke Smith and five-star recruit Zach Harrison. While Ohio State is strong at defensive end, they will also feature an impressive rotation of guys up the middle. The group will likely be led by Robert Landers and Davon Hamilton, who combined for 41 total tackles including 8.5 tackles for loss last year. The young guns in Taron Vincent and Tommy Togai will also see some time at the defensive tackle spot, with Jashon Cornell also rotating in at the position after previously featuring as a defensive end.
It would be tough for any team to lose its top two talents in a particular unit and come back even stronger the following year, but that is exactly what Ohio State will look to do with its defensive line. As long as everyone stays healthy and meets expectations, the Buckeyes should have no problem dominating opposing offensive lines all season long.
“Diallo attributed his relationships with the coaching staff as the main reason why he ultimately selected Ohio State, noting his trust in Chris Holtmann, who visited him in California shortly after the Buckeyes’ season ended with a loss to Houston in the second round of the NCAA tournament.”
When Chris Holtmann first came to Ohio State, fans hoped he would be able to make the team competitive again on the national stage, something that had been missing for the past few seasons before his tenure began. Two straight wins in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and a Big Ten Coach of the Year Award later, nobody could have expected Holtmann to have as much success early on as he has in his first two seasons at the helm for the Buckeyes.
With the addition of Ibrahima Diallo, a 7-foot three-star center, Holtmann has now been able to secure the No. 9 overall class in the country in 2019, and the top class in the Big Ten. A native of Senegal, Diallo moved to the U.S. in 2016, where he enrolled at Victory Rock Prep in Florida before transferring to Prolific Prep in California his senior year. With Prolific Prep, Diallo averaged 11.3 points and 10.8 rebounds with 3.5 blocks per game during the 10-game Prep Circuit.
Diallo cited his main reason for choosing Ohio State over his other top choices was his relationship with the coaching staff, specifically Chris Holtmann. The center was impressed by Holtmann, who came to visit Diallo in California just four days after Ohio State’s tournament loss to Houston. Diallo called the coaches himself on Sunday to let Holtmann and his staff know of his decision, which was greeted by cheers of excitement.
Diallo will join D.J Carton, Alonzo Gaffney and E.J. Liddell in the Buckeyes’ 2019 class as Holtmann adds a ton of young talent to his roster for next season. While Ohio State will be losing C.J. Jackson and Keyshawn Woods, who started 31 and 15 games this past season, respectively, they will be replaced with five-star talent in Carton and four-star talent in Gaffney and Liddell, with returning starters Kaleb Wesson, Andre Wesson and Luther Muhammad to greet them. All told, it should be an exciting season in Columbus this winter.
Speaking of the men’s basketball team, Ohio State just released its Big Ten matchups for the 2019-20 season. Most notably on the docket, the Buckeyes will take on Purdue just once on their own home floor. Also, they’ll face Michigan State just once, with the meeting taking place in East Lansing. OSU will play home and away series with seven different conference opponents, including Michigan, Penn State, Wisconsin and Maryland, to name a few.