Ohio State’s recruiting class of 2017 is entering a pivotal season.
Those Buckeyes are entering their third season in Columbus, which means they’re expected to be ready to play significant roles for Ohio State if they haven’t already. Each of them now have two years as Ohio State players under their belts, and by the end of the upcoming season, all of them will be on the back end of their careers while some of them will have decisions to make about whether it’s time to go to the NFL.
With that in mind, Eleven Warriors is taking an individual look this offseason at each of Ohio State’s third-year players – in descending order of their 247Sports composite recruiting rankings – and the expectations that preceded their Ohio State careers, how they have performed in their first two seasons as Buckeyes and the outlook for the remainder of their careers.
The ninth installment of the Third-Year Reset brings us to the halfway point of this exercise – of the 21 scholarship players who signed with Ohio State in 2017, 18 are still on the team – and defensive tackle Haskell Garrett, who has seen some playing time in his first two seasons as a Buckeye but could be in line for a bigger role this season – though he still has to compete for it.
Before He Became a Buckeye
After playing his freshman year of high school football at the St. Louis School in Honolulu, Garrett transferred to Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, where he teamed with fellow Ohio State signee Tate Martell (and a multitude of other future Division I football players) to help lead the Gaels to three consecutive undefeated seasons and national championships.
In his three seasons at Bishop Gorman, Garrett recorded 112 total tackles, 56.5 tackles for loss, 25 sacks, two interceptions, 10 pass deflections, two forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. He made the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s All-State team in all three of his seasons at Bishop Gorman, and was a two-time Defensive MVP of the Southwest League.
A four-star recruit, Garrett was ranked as the sixth-best defensive tackle and No. 68 overall prospect in the class of 2017.
Career to Date
As the third-stringer on the depth chart at the 3-technique defensive tackle position behind Dre’Mont Jones and Jashon Cornell in 2017, Garrett appeared in eight games for the Buckeyes as a true freshman but played only 61 total defensive snaps and recorded three tackles.
Garrett moved up a row on the depth chart last season, as Cornell moved outside to defensive end, but most of those snaps went to Jones while true freshman Taron Vincent also worked his way into the rotation. As a result, Garrett played 127 defensive snaps last season and still has yet to play more than 15 snaps in any game in his Ohio State career. He recorded seven total tackles and one pass breakup.
Even though Garrett has appeared in 22 games in his first two seasons at Ohio State, it’s understandable if you haven’t noticed, because he has yet to make any standout plays or emerge as a regular on a difference-maker on Ohio State’s defensive line. The experience he has gained over the past two seasons, though, could help him play his way into a bigger role this upcoming season now that Jones is playing for the NFL’s Denver Broncos.
Going into this spring, Garrett was expected to be the frontrunner to take Jones’ place in the starting lineup. Given his standing as Jones’ primary backup last season, Garrett seemed likely to be in line to move another rung up the depth chart and start at the 3-technique tackle position this season, and he certainly seemed to believe that would be the case at the end of last season.
“My freshman year was a learning process getting ready for this,” Garrett said in an interview with Eleven Warriors at Rose Bowl media day. “And my sophomore year was really getting ready for that opportunity and getting ready to take on that role.”
This spring, however, Garrett was in a three-way competition for that starting job with Cornell (who is now back at defensive tackle after one season at defensive end) and Vincent, and by the end of the spring, it looked as though Garrett might be at the bottom of the pecking order among those three. While Cornell and Vincent both lined up with the first-team defense in the spring game, Garrett lined up with the second-team defense.
Cornell, a fifth-year senior, now appears to be the frontrunner to start at defensive tackle while Vincent, a true sophomore, appears to be making a rapid ascent toward playing a bigger role. That leaves in question whether Garrett will actually play a more substantial role on Ohio State’s defensive line this season.
Ultimately, it’s likely that all three of those defensive tackles will see at least semi-regular playing time at the 3-technique spot. Larry Johnson likes to maintain a deep rotation on his defensive line, which should lead to all of them getting their share of snaps in each game.
“You can never have too many,” Johnson said this spring. “We’ve got a plan to play those guys. They’re all going to play. It’s a long game.”
After waiting his turn for the last two seasons, Garrett would surely prefer to move into a leading role on Ohio State’s defensive line. Even if that doesn’t happen, though, he says he will work hard to play his role to the best of his ability and make plays when he is on the field.
“I just work day in and day out, just focus on the group more than myself. Whatever the group needs, I do,” Garrett said this spring. “When you go in as an individual, you have to make plays, and if you get that opportunity, you got to seize your opportunity.”
If Garrett is ever going to become a starter on Ohio State’s interior defensive line, he’s going to have to fend off Vincent, a five-star recruit from the class of 2018. If Vincent surpasses Garrett on the depth chart this season, he will likely be in line to start alongside fellow junior Tommy Togiai in 2020, which will be Garrett’s senior year and final season of eligibility.
The good news for Garrett, because of how frequently Ohio State’s defensive linemen rotate, is he doesn’t necessarily need to become a starter to become an impact player and even a future NFL player. If he starts making more plays when he is on the field, he’ll have the opportunity to progressively earn more playing time and make a name for himself before he leaves Columbus.
Garrett came to Ohio State with high expectations and has the tools to emerge as a disruptive interior penetrator for the Buckeyes, much like Jones was for the past three years. Halfway through his Ohio State career, however, his potential hasn’t translated to much production, leaving the forecast murky for the rest of his time as a Buckeye.
Ideally, Garrett will emerge as a difference-maker in Ohio State’s defensive tackle rotation over the next two seasons and put himself in position to be selected in the 2021 NFL draft. It’s important for Garrett to start making an impact this season, though, to set himself up for a big finish in 2020.