Jalyn Holmes admits he hears the hype.
It’s hard not to, of course. Ohio State’s defensive line enters the 2017 campaign being talked about as one of the best in the country; you’d have to be living under a rock to avoid the discussion.
But while Holmes concedes it’s nice to hear good things being said about him and his teammates up front, it’s not necessarily the type of discussion he wants. Not yet, anyway.
“You want good praise. I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t care,” Holmes said Thursday following the Buckeyes’ first practice of the season. “But at the end of the day, you’ve got to know that’s just preseason stuff. At the end of the day, you want the postseason awards and you don’t really care about that preseason stuff.”
“We’ve just got to take it for what it is but continue to elevate our game every single day.”
With Holmes, Tyquan Lewis, Nick Bosa and Sam Hubbard at defensive end and Dre’Mont Jones, Tracy Sprinkle, Robert Landers and Michael Hill at defensive tackle, Ohio State has arguably the best — and deepest — defensive line in college football heading into the 2017 season.
Larry Johnson, the Buckeyes’ defensive line coach, isn’t allowing his unit to buy into the hype just yet, though.
“Coach J says that if that’s what they’re going to say about us then we’ve got to work in order to achieve it,” Hubbard said. “We’ve got to put in the work. He was yelling at us today that we’re just a bunch of names and we haven’t done anything yet so he put us to work today.”
There are areas this group can improve on from last season. For example, Johnson discussed in the spring a need to record more sacks. Ohio State registered 28 during 2016 — a number that ranked just seventh in the Big Ten. Good, but not great.
With every player from that group returning, however, it’s fair to think the production will only increase as the Buckeyes’ stable of talented pass-rushers is only expected to improve with another year under Johnson.
“I think we all have unique skill sets,” Hubbard said. “There’s so much talent and you’re fighting for reps and everybody wants to improve their game, everyone brings something else to the table. We all have such good relationships and competition breeds success in a good way. We work really well together and I think that’s more constructive than anything to have so many good guys in a room like that.”
Added Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano: “[The defensive line is] really good. We’ve got a great defensive line coach, I like the best in America in Larry Johnson. He knows how to keep them all involved. We should never have a tired defensive lineman out there God willing we stay healthy.”
The preseason hype is there and the Buckeyes aren’t necessarily running from it. And if the same type of talk comes at the end of the season, Ohio State would gladly accept that, too.
“I feel like we’ve been keeping a real humble mind and working to push to be better,” Holmes said. “You’ve got to be better than yesterday so we’ve got to keep going.”