Ohio State Defensive Line Coach Larry Johnson Says Ty Hamilton is a “Sleeping Giant,” Hamilton Focused on Leadership

By Andy Anders on July 8, 2024 at 8:35 am
Ty Hamilton

The star power surrounding Ty Hamilton on Ohio State’s defensive line casts a shadow that sometimes shields him from recognition.

It’s an integral part of any defensive front to have rugged defensive tackles who can knock the line of scrimmage backward. They aren’t always the ones collecting all the stats, but they are the ones plugging up running lanes and eating blocks.

Projected as the Buckeyes’ starting nose guard in 2024, Hamilton’s value certainly isn’t lost on defensive line coach Larry Johnson.

“Ty is a hammer. Ty is a physical player inside,” Johnson said in March. “If you watch his play from last year, there were times when – we call him ‘Bobble Doll.’ He's just taking that center and shaking his head. Very strong, very physical. ... Ty, to me, is a sleeping giant. He really is. Because he makes us go. He's smart. He's a leader, and he knows exactly what he wants to do. And I love that about Ty.”

For Hamilton, making the defensive line “go” means honing in on some finer points of his game, but more than anything else it means uplifting the rest of his position room as a fifth-year senior as Ohio State loads up for its all-in campaign.

“I feel like being a leader in here, I really have to push younger guys and really have to step up,” Hamilton said. “I've been here a long time, so I feel like really elevating the guys below me and really making them better (is my main goal). Because if they could play just as good as I can play, then we're gonna be unstoppable.”

Hamilton is the younger brother of former star Ohio State defensive tackle DaVon Hamilton. Both have had similar career trajectories in Columbus. DaVon was mostly a rotational player until his redshirt senior year, when he broke out to the tune of 28 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and six sacks for the Buckeyes in 2019.

Ty earned his first starting gig a year ago in tandem with Mike Hall Jr. Despite the low-stat nature of the nose guard position, he was quietly productive with 38 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and two sacks in 2023. He capped his fourth year as a Buckeye by posting a six-tackle, two-TFL, one-sack performance against Missouri in the Cotton Bowl.

While Hamilton took some time after the season to deliberate whether he should go pro, he said it wasn’t a difficult decision in the end. Three straight losses to Michigan and a lack of postseason success left a bad taste in his and his teammates’ mouths.

“I think all of us coming back, we all had an understanding that we still have something here that we need to finish,” Hamilton said. “There's unfinished business that we need to take care of.”

One of those teammates back to finish unfinished business is starting 3-technique defensive tackle Tyleik Williams. Williams himself enjoyed a breakout 2023, racking up 53 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, three sacks and five pass breakups. He earned second-team All-Big Ten honors from the conference’s media and a third-team selection from its coaches.

“I think us together can be the best in the country,” Hamilton said of the tandem of he and Williams. “We have all the brotherhood in the world and it's just us together, man. We just lock in with each other and have that chemistry and know that we're going to go out and we're going to play for each other.”

“Ty is a hammer. Ty is a physical player inside.”– Larry Johnson on Ty Hamilton

Hamilton said it’s not just he and Williams that will be central to the interior defensive line’s efforts in 2024. He feels that “everyone needs to play.” The call for depth in preparation for a potential 16- or 17-game national title run has been frequent from Ryan Day and his coaching staff.

Kayden McDonald, Hero Kanu and Will Smith Jr. drew praise from Hamilton as backup defensive tackles who can contribute behind him. Johnson called Jason Moore the “ideal” three-technique in Ohio State’s defense earlier this offseason, plus 2023 Ole Miss transfer Tywone Malone seems to be progressing.

“You hope that K-Mac can give us something. I think he's having a good camp. Jason Moore, we've got Hero Kanu who's doing really well,” Johnson said. “Then you've got Tywone in there, and then we've got a battle between who's going to be that next piece guy, whether it's Will Smith or it could be a freshman. So we don't know yet. But I like where we are right now in the system moving forward. I think it gives them some options.”

For Hamilton personally, he’s trying to get after opposing quarterbacks more in his final campaign.

“I think one of the main points is to elevate my pass rush game. I think definitely elevating that will be able to tune myself to being unstoppable,” Hamilton said. “So I think by fine-tuning that and really getting good at that, that'll definitely make me a better player.”

Entering his final season with the Buckeyes, Hamilton is grateful to have played for his hometown school. The Pickerington native isn’t taking any of it for granted as Ohio State sets out to achieve its national title ambitions.

“It's a special feeling to me, and it feels like I have the whole city on my back,” Hamilton said. “Just being able to be out here, and it's a blessing to be playing for The Ohio State University. So I have to cherish every single day, treat it like my last.”

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