Ohio State’s 2018 roster is loaded with talent, per usual, but how does it compare to the Buckeyes’ previous teams since Urban Meyer has arrived in Columbus?
Here at Eleven Warriors, we’re taking a position-by-position look at how the Buckeyes’ current roster stacks up with Ohio State’s rosters from Meyer’s first six seasons as head coach, and that look continues with a breakdown of the defensive tackles.
While Ohio State’s defensive tackle play has been typically solid and sometimes excellent during Meyer’s time in Columbus, the Buckeyes had a reputation for several years of failing to land elite recruits at the position. That perception has faded away, however, as the Buckeyes are coming off a recruiting cycle in which they landed a five-star defensive tackle (Taron Vincent) and two highly touted four-star defensive tackles (Tommy Togiai and Antwuan Jackson).
Those players join a group of returning veterans that give the Buckeyes a tremendous mix of depth, experience and potential on their interior defensive line.
It’s fair to surmise that Larry Johnson’s crop of defensive tackles for the 2018 season could be the best group at the position that Meyer’s Buckeyes have had yet. To see whether the overall talent, depth and experience of the group really does stand out from previous years, however, we have to take a look at Ohio State’s defensive tackle rosters from 2012 through 2017.
Ohio State’s defensive end rosters for every season from 2012 through 2018 are listed below with each player’s year of eligibility, number of recruiting stars (based on 247Sports’ composite rankings) and how many games they had appeared in and started going into each respective season, with analysis to follow on how this year’s group stacks up with the rest.
Note: Players who made position switches are only listed for the years that they were defensive tackles for the Buckeyes.
Garrett Goebel, Redshirt Senior (★★★★) – 39 games, 13 starts
Johnathan Hankins, Junior (★★★★) – 26 games, 13 starts
Joel Hale, Sophomore (★★★) – 9 games
Chris Carter, Redshirt Freshman (★★★)
Adolphus Washington, Freshman (★★★★★)
Tommy Schutt, Freshman (★★★★)
Dalton Britt, Redshirt Senior (Walk-on) – 4 games
Kharim Stephens, Redshirt Senior (Walk-on)
John Holman, Sophomore (Walk-on)
Michael Bennett, Junior (★★★★) – 21 games, 1 start
Joel Hale, Junior (★★★) – 16 games
Chris Carter, Redshirt Sophomore (★★★) – 12 games
Adolphus Washington, Sophomore (★★★★★) – 10 games
Tommy Schutt, Sophomore (★★★★) – 10 games, 1 start
Michael Hill, Freshman (★★★★)
Donovan Munger, Freshman (★★★★)
Tracy Sprinkle, Freshman (★★★)
John Holman, Junior (Walk-on)
Michael Bennett, Senior (★★★★) – 34 games, 14 starts
Adolphus Washington, Junior (★★★★★) – 22 games, 5 starts
Chris Carter, Redshirt Junior (★★★) – 26 games
Tommy Schutt, Junior (★★★★) – 17 games, 2 starts
Michael Hill, Redshirt Freshman (★★★★)
Donovan Munger, Redshirt Freshman (★★★★)
Tracy Sprinkle, Redshirt Freshman (★★★)
Dylan Thompson, Freshman (★★★)
John Holman, Senior (Walk-on)
Aaron Parry, Sophomore (Walk-on)
Adolphus Washington, Senior (★★★★★) – 37 games, 19 starts
Joel Hale, Redshirt Senior (★★★) – 31 games (1 as OL), 11 starts
Tommy Schutt, Senior (★★★★) – 32 games, 2 starts
Donovan Munger, Redshirt Sophomore (★★★★) – 11 games
Michael Hill, Redshirt Sophomore (★★★★) – 5 games
Tracy Sprinkle, Redshirt Sophomore (★★★) – 3 games
Dylan Thompson, Redshirt Freshman (★★★)
Jashon Cornell, Freshman (★★★★)
Dre’Mont Jones, Freshman (★★★★)
Joshua Alabi, Freshman (★★★)
Davon Hamilton, Freshman (★★★)
Robert Landers, Freshman (★★★)
Michael Hill, Redshirt Junior (★★★★) – 18 games, 1 start
Tracy Sprinkle, Redshirt Junior (★★★) – 15 games
Dylan Thompson, Redshirt Sophomore (★★★)
Jashon Cornell, Redshirt Freshman (★★★★)
Dre’Mont Jones, Redshirt Freshman (★★★★)
Joshua Alabi, Redshirt Freshman (★★★)
Davon Hamilton, Redshirt Freshman (★★★)
Robert Landers, Redshirt Freshman (★★★)
Malik Barrow, Freshman (★★★★)
Curtis Henry, Junior (Walk-on)
Noah Donald, Freshman (Walk-on)
Michael Hill, Redshirt Junior (★★★★) – 31 games, 14 starts
Dre’Mont Jones, Redshirt Sophomore (★★★★) – 13 games, 12 starts
Tracy Sprinkle, Redshirt Senior (★★★) – 16 games, 1 start
Davon Hamilton, Redshirt Sophomore (★★★) – 13 games
Robert Landers, Redshirt Sophomore (★★★★) – 13 games
Jashon Cornell, Redshirt Sophomore (★★★★) – 5 games
Dylan Thompson, Redshirt Junior (★★★)
Malik Barrow, Redshirt Freshman (★★★★)
Jerron Cage, Freshman (★★★★)
Haskell Garrett, Freshman (★★★★)
Noah Donald, Sophomore (Walk-on)
Dre’Mont Jones, Redshirt Junior (★★★★) – 25 games, 23 starts
Robert Landers, Redshirt Junior (★★★) – 26 games
Davon Hamilton, Redshirt Junior (★★★) – 25 games
Haskell Garrett, Sophomore (★★★★) – 8 games
Malik Barrow, Redshirt Sophomore (★★★★) – 2 games
Antwuan Jackson, Redshirt Sophomore (★★★★)
Jerron Cage, Redshirt Freshman (★★★★)
Taron Vincent, Freshman (★★★★★)
Tommy Togiai, Freshman (★★★★)
Zaid Hamdan, Freshman (Walk-on)
Overview: Ohio State’s 2018 defensive tackle roster certainly appears to have the goods to be the best that Meyer’s Buckeyes have ever had, as it enters the season as one of Ohio State’s most experienced, deepest and talented groups of interior defensive linemen since 2012.
The Buckeyes’ 2018 defensive tackles are led in experience by a trio of defensive tackles who have each already appeared in at least 25 games – Dre’Mont Jones, Robert Landers and Davon Hamilton, all fourth-year juniors – marking just the second time in seven years (2015, when the Buckeyes had three defensive tackles who had each more than 30 game appearances) that Ohio State has had three defensive tackles with that much experience.
In total, the 2018 Buckeyes have nine scholarship defensive tackles, marking the fourth straight year that Ohio State had at least that many scholarship players who played or went on to play defensive tackle. In 2014 and 2013, the Buckeyes had just eight scholarship defensive tackles; in 2012, they had only six.
What really does stand out about the Buckeyes’ defensive tackle progression over the years, though, and especially for 2018, is the amount of highly touted recruits they have accumulated at the position.
Taron Vincent is the first true five-star defensive tackle that Meyer’s Buckeyes have recruited to Columbus (while Adolphus Washington ended up playing inside for the Buckeyes, he was initially recruited as a defensive end).
Led by Jones (who was also recruited as a defensive end, but has now established himself as one of college football’s best defensive tackles), the 2018 Buckeyes also have six four-star defensive tackles, more than they have had in any other season except 2017.
Even with all of those more highly touted recruits, the two three-star defensive tackles – Landers and Hamilton – are both expected to play key roles in the Buckeyes’ interior defensive line rotation this season, with Landers in line to start after performing well as a rotational player the past two years.
Ohio State’s best defensive tackle pairing of the Meyer era thus far was the combination of Michael Bennett and Adolphus Washington that started for the Buckeyes in 2014, when Bennett earned first-team All-American honors and and Ohio State won a national championship. Washington went on to earn All-American honors in 2015, and both defensive tackles have since gone on to play in the NFL.
Meyer’s Buckeyes this season, however, look like they should have more impact players at the defensive tackle position than they have ever had before. While Jones has the potential to be All-American in his own right, Johnson should be able to operate a deep defensive tackle rotation with the likes of Landers, Hamilton, Haskell Garrett, Antwuan Jackson, Tommy Togiai and Vincent all competing for serious playing time.
If even half of those players can team up with Jones and play to their potential this season, Ohio State’s defensive tackle roster could be Meyer’s best yet and one of the best in all of college football for 2018.