Urban Meyer, Larry Johnson Finally Reel in Top-Tier Defensive Tackles After Misses in Recent Years

By James Grega on December 20, 2017 at 2:24 pm
Taron Vincent

For the last few years, Ohio State has struggled to land the premier defensive tackles to anchor its future front four. Finally for the Buckeyes, that is no longer the case. 

After missing on Rashan Gary (Michigan) in 2016 and Marvin Wilson (Florida State) in 2017, Ohio State was in need of multiple interior defensive linemen with Tracy Sprinkle, Michael Hill and possibly Dre'Mont Jones gone after the upcoming Cotton Bowl against USC. 

The Buckeyes got their guys for 2018, reeling in a trio of premier defensive tackles in Tommy Togiai, Taron Vincent and Auburn transfer Antwuan Jackson, Jr. Speaking at his signing day press conference on Wednesday, Urban Meyer mentioned the interior defensive tackles as one of the first things that stands out to him about his 2018 class. 

"What I love about them, they're all great kids, great families, and they're ready to go," Meyer said. "I anticipate they'll all play. Our interior defensive line is going to be strong."

Togiai's commitment in particular came up at Meyer's presser. When asked for his more in-depth thoughts about the early signing day, Meyer said he hadn't given too much thought to it because of how much travel he has done in the last two weeks recruiting, while also preparing for the Cotton Bowl. 

Meyer mentioned his trip to Idaho to visit with Togiai, in which the four-star committed to the Buckeyes, resulting in a video that went viral across Twitter

"I have given zero (thought) to this. I've been in freaking Idaho and all over the place. And by the way, I'm glad I went to Idaho. It went really well," Meyer said with a smile. 

Meyer also addressed concerns about defensive line coach Larry Johnson, who had rumors swirling around the recruiting world about him, saying that Johnson was closing in on retirement. 

Amid the rumors, Johnson took to Twitter on Dec. 15 to assure anyone curious about his future that he wasn't "going anywhere."

Johnson first got permission from Meyer to send the tweet, according to Ohio State's head coach, who said Wednesday that he has no concerns about Johnson's future with the Buckeyes. 

"I'm used to the negative (recruiting); I don't agree with it. The one thing you'll never hear Ohio State go into someone's home and talk abut some other school or some other coach," Meyer said. "We don't do that. But that's the way it is.

"I wasn't aware that was going on because I don't read social media stuff, but I was made aware to me by our staff, and so Larry said 'Do you mind if I do this?' No, of course not. So Larry is his own man, and he's committed to be here for many years."

With Johnson coaching up Ohio State's current group of defensive linemen, there is plenty of reason to be optimistic about the unit for the Buckeyes. The 2018 trio of interior linemen will combine with the likes of Nick Bosa, Chase Young and Jonathon Cooper to make for what could be a fierce front-four for Ohio State. Togiai, Vincent and Jackson will have to compete with the likes of Haskell Garrett, Robert Landers and others for playing time, but it is assumed the Buckeyes will continue with their rotation up front to continuously keep fresh bodies on the field. 

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