A year ago it was DaVon Hamilton’s name who just kept coming up in conversations about Ohio State’s upcoming season. This time, it’s Ty Hamilton – the younger brother of DaVon – whose name continues to pop up.
Unlike his older brother who had undergone a body transformation ahead of his redshirt senior seasons, Ty Hamilton is turning heads before ever taking a snap as a Buckeye.
He was the fourth incoming freshman to lose his black stripe. Head coach Ryan Day brought his name up recently without any prompt. Multiple teammates noted him as someone who’s impressed them recently.
And perhaps most importantly, defensive line coach Larry Johnson thinks he might contribute as soon as this fall.
“We work in Ty Hamilton a little bit at nose guard and give him a chance to see what he can do,” Johnson said on Wednesday.
Not too long ago, this wasn’t at all anticipated. At least, not if you followed Hamilton during his recruiting process.
He enrolled in the university this summer as an unheralded three-star recruit from Pickerington Central. Most of the notoriety Hamilton had stemmed from his older brother’s reputation, which grew as last fall progressed and he turned into the type of player that eventually led to the Jacksonville Jaguars selecting him in the third round. Hamilton earned offers from most midwest powers, including Penn State and Michigan, but he remained rated as just the nation’s 762nd-best prospect and 24th-ranked Ohioan.
Only three Ohio State commits in the 2020 recruiting cycle – offensive linemen Jakob James and Trey Leroux and kicker Jake Seibert – were ranked below Hamilton.
“Ty, he’s come a long way with the plays and everything, and he’s starting to get into it.”– Tommy Togiai on Ty Hamilton
Yet, so far, coaches and players have mentioned Hamilton as much or more than any other freshman on the defensive side of the ball. He has performed “really well” so far, per Johnson who mentioned that he’s gone from 260 pounds to 285 pounds since arriving on campus. The coaches are in the midst of transforming him into a defensive tackle.
“I like where he’s at as a young player,” Johnson said. “He’s still in the development stage, but he’s really done a good job since he’s been here. He’s gotten stronger. He’s got a chance to be a player going forward.”
Hamilton’s impressions were felt as early as last month when Day said he’s “somebody that has already early on shown that he can do some really good things” on his 97.1 radio show.
Vague wording by the coaches? No doubt about it. But that’s to be expected for someone so new to the program. Their continually complimentary words hold weight, especially when looked at all together.
Hamilton happened to choose a good time to impress Johnson, too, considering the lack of depth on the interior of Ohio State’s defensive line.
All three of the Buckeyes’ top defensive tackles from last year’s roster have graduated, leaving Tommy Togiai (250 snaps last year), Haskell Garrett (218 snaps), Antwuan Jackson (201 snaps), Jerron Cage (88 snaps), Jaden McKenzie (11 snaps) and Taron Vincent (0 snaps) as the only six returners at the position. Johnson said on Wednesday that he intends to rotate three players at both 3-technique and nose tackle. Considering the unclear status of Garrett and Vincent’s continued rehabilitation, Hamilton has an opening to earn immediate playing time, which is typically rare for freshman defensive linemen.
Thus far, he’s learning from Togiai, the team’s starting nose tackle who defensive end Javontae Jean-Baptiste said has become a “great role model” for Hamilton who constantly pushes the freshman.
“Ty, he’s come a long way with the plays and everything, and he’s starting to get into it,” Togiai said.
Soon enough, Hamilton will get a chance to translate his eye-opening practices into in-game performances.