Defensive Observations From Ohio State's First Spring Practice of the 2016 Season

By Tim Shoemaker on March 8, 2016 at 10:20 am
Dre'Mont Jones works out at Ohio State's first spring practice.

Ohio State's first practice of the spring started 8:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. The Buckeyes, coming off a 12-1 season and a Fiesta Bowl victory, are replacing 16 starters after the mass exodus following that 2015 season.

The first hour of Ohio State's practice was open to the media. It's important to keep in mind you can never take a ton away from the first spring practice, particularly because of all the players who were limited, but here is some of what we saw:

  • With Adolphus Washington and Tommy Schutt both gone, the Buckeyes have a pair starting defensive tackle spots open. The two guys who were repping with the first-team defense at those positions Tuesday were redshirt juniors Tracy Sprinkle and Michael Hill. The second-team defensive tackles were Robert Landers and Donovan Munger.
  • Like defensive tackle, the Buckeyes must replace both starting safeties, as well. The two who were working with the first-team defense were redshirt sophomore Malik Hooker and sophomore Eric Glover-Williams. Glover-Williams split time last season as a true freshman with the safeties and corners, but this appears like it could be a full-time move to safety now as he spent the majority of the open portion of practice working with new safeties coach Greg Schiano.
  • It appears redshirt freshman Rashod Berry has moved to defensive line. Berry worked with the tight ends last season, but was working almost exclusively with Larry Johnson on Tuesday sporting No. 13.
  • The first-team cornerbacks were redshirt junior Gareon Conley and redshirt sophomore Marshon Lattimore.
  • It's possible Lattimore and Glover-Williams were repping with the first team at their respective positions because junior safety Erick Smith and junior cornerback Damon Webb both were working off to the side rehabbing injuries. Smith tore his ACL last season and was doing some light jogging on the side with linebacker Nick Conner, who suffered a similar injury. Webb battled a few nagging injuries last season in addition to a suspension, so it's unclear at this time what exactly had him limited Tuesday.
  • Other notable defensive players who were either held out or limited from practice included redshirt junior defensive end Tyquan Lewis, redshirt freshman linebacker Justin Hilliard and redshirt junior safety Cam Burrows. Hilliard was sporting an orange practice jersey and wasn't off to the side like the rest of the players injured. He was going through some drills, but not all as he recovers from an injury suffered near the end of the last season.
  • The first-team linebackers, as expected, were Dante Booker, Raekwon McMillan and Chris Worley.
  • With Lewis sidelined, Jalyn Holmes was working with the first team on the defensive line at the end spot opposite Sam Hubbard.
  • Jashon Cornell, Dre'Mont Jones, Darius Slade and Jonathon Cooper all rotated between the second and third team at defensive end.
  • Early enrollee numbers for freshmen: Cooper was sporting No. 18, Malik Barrow wore No. 55 and was working to the side as he continues to rehab from injury, Tuf Borland was in No. 32.

To recap Ohio State's first-team defense: Hubbard, Holmes, Sprinkle and Hill were the first-team defensive line; Booker, Worley and McMillan were the first-team linebackers; and Conley, Lattimore, Hooker and Glover-Williams were the first-team defensive backs. 

Head coach Urban Meyer is scheduled to meet with the media around 11 a.m. Eleven Warriors will have more coverage from Ohio State's first practice later Tuesday.

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