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LGHL Asks: Which defensive true freshman will have the biggest impact?

The decision between J.T. Tuimoloau and Jack Sawyer is not easy, but my pick is Sawyer.

NCAA Football: Ohio State Practice Columbus Dispatch-USA TODAY NETWORK

Throughout the month of August, LGHL writers will be attempting to answer some of the most important questions about Ohio State’s 2021 football season. To catch up on all editions of LGHL Asks, click HERE.

LGHL Asks: Which defensive true freshman will have the biggest impact?

Personally, and I’m sure that you will agree with me, I believe that there are only two possible answers to this question: J.T. Tuimoloau or Jack Sawyer. There are a number of impressive true freshmen defensive backs who could potentially have an impact this season, but it seems a foregone conclusion that the freshmen defensive ends will be on the fielder earlier and more often.

So, between Tuimoloau and Sawyer, you really couldn’t go wrong with either, but since we are deciding who will have the biggest impact specifically this season, I’m going to have to go with Sawyer.

Both of these guys have similar star-studded backgrounds. Five-star defensive ends in the 2021 class; both ranked in the top five overall. I definitely do not want to pit these two against each other, because they are both going to be great bookends for years to come on this defensive line. They certainly have a lot to live up to, considering how great the D-Line has been turning out stars over the past decade; between Chase Young, Joey Bosa, and Nick Bosa (all NFL Defensive Rookies of the Year), the lethalness that Larry Johnson has created is just straight up scary!

This season should be no different with former five-star prospect Zach Harrison going off (I predict) for potentially his last collegiate season, and Tyreke Smith and Haskell Garrett both returning for their senior year following tremendous junior campaigns. With news that DE Tyler Friday will likely be out for the majority of the season, that gives both Sawyer and Tuimoloau an even better chance of getting ample playing time.

Now, why do I give the edge — no pun intended — to Sawyer? Well, for a few reasons. First off, he skipped his senior season and enrolled early at Ohio State, in case they moved their season to the spring. Therefore, he went through winter and spring practices with the Buckeyes, including playing in the spring game where he had three sacks and a forced fumble. Seems like that extra time paid off.

Additionally, he only lives about a half hour from OSU. As a result, he has been an Ohio State fan his entire life and was able to go to camps regularly throughout his high school years. Larry Johnson said that because of the familiarity that they’ve built up over the years, Sawyer has been able to learn and perfect the techniques and skills that OSU teaches from an early age. So, Sawyer entered Ohio State with a leg up on other defensive freshman, since he already understood how Johnson likes things done.

But wait, I haven’t even told you how much of a freak of an athlete Sawyer is yet. Well, in his junior season alone, he had 37 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, and 13.5 sacks. Oh, and he passed for 1,056 yards and nine touchdowns as his team’s QB at Pickerington North High School. He was also a member of the varsity basketball team as a freshman. His athleticism, strength, and size (6-foot-4, 250 lbs.) are downright frightening as a true freshman.

I think this extra time spent with the team and the familiarity with how the system works will benefit Jack Sawyer greatly. Now, I am not saying that he will be a starter when the season opens up on Sept. 2, but I am extremely confident that he will get a LOT of snaps this season. Perhaps he could even work his way into a starting role by the end of the year?

However, who starts on the defensive line rarely matters in a Larry Johnson coached unit, because of how much he likes to rotate players. I really think that Friday’s injury could have a huge impact on how much Sawyer plays this year. Even if he doesn’t get the starting job this year (the Bosa brothers and Chase Young didn’t their freshman year either), there is no doubt that he will do some serious damage to opposing offenses before he takes his talents to the pros.

Poll

Who do you think will have a better Ohio State career?

This poll is closed

  • 66%
    Jack Sawyer
    (64 votes)
  • 33%
    J.T. Tuimoloau
    (32 votes)
96 votes total Vote Now