There will be several interesting position battles when Ohio State kicks off preseason camp in two weeks. We took a microscope at the most offensive position battles at the end of last week. Today we take a look at some of the most intriguing gigs to win in defense for the Buckeyes.
START A ONE-TECH DEFENSIVE ATTACK
Who will line up next to three-tech Haskell Garrett as another starting defensive tackle for the Buckeyes? I think Jerron cage is a safe bet to win this job. Keep in mind that it was Cage who started the National Championship game against Alabama when Tommy Togiai could not play due to COVID restrictions. Cage has also performed well as Togiai’s replacement for most of the 2020 season. It looks like it’s time for him to be the full-time starter, but he will be pushed by Antwuan Jackson (who can play the two DT spots), real freshmen Mike Hall and Tyleik williams, and maybe Taron Vincent, although I think he’ll be Garrett’s understudy at the three-tech. Vincent weighs 300 pounds, so he could play nose guard, but he’s still more of a three-tech in my book.
DEFENSIVE END OF SUPERIOR SAFEGUARD
I think both starters are in a defensive position with Tyreke smith and Zach harrison. And while Larry johnson will probably use a deep rotation at DE as usual, I’m curious to see who will rise up and prove to be the best DE reserve for the Buckeyes this season. And that player will obviously become a starter if Smith or Harrison get injured. My guess right now is real freshman Jack sawyer, although you can easily select Tyler Friday, Javontae John the Baptist, or the recently arrived JT Tuimoloau. Sawyer coming to OSU in January was big, and then he was very impressive in the spring. I think he’s going to have a relatively important year, especially for a real frosh.
BEGINNER MEDIUM LINEBACKER
This appears to be a four-horse race between USC transfer Palaie Gaoteote, Dallas Glove, Cody Simon and Tommy Eichenberg. Gant and Simon can also go outside if necessary. If Gaoteote is healthy and quickly resumes defensive play, he would be my choice. But this is far from being a certainty. I have a good feeling for Simon entering his sophomore year and received rave reviews from the coaches last season. Eichenberg is probably the dark horse here, but coaches said he’s had a great spring.
DEPARTURE CORNER OPPOSED TO BANKS, PLUS THE BEST RESERVE CORNERS
Sevyn Banks has a locked starting cornerback spot. Who will line up in front of him? Yes Cam Brown is healthy, it’ll probably be him, but he’s coming out of an Achilles tear suffered at Penn State last year. There is a good chance of rookie redshirt Ryan watts will be the starter opposite Banks. Second year corners Lejond Cavazos and Cam Martinez will be in the mix (although the latter is more of a lunge wedge, not an outside wedge). I’m also curious to see if any of the real freshmen can get into the mix for some serious playtime. I’m talking about Jakalin Johnson, Jordan hancock and Denzel burke. At least one of those guys needs to add some quality depth for the Buckeyes who have some talent around the corner, but are very young. Even though he just arrived in June, I will go with Johnson as the real freshman corner who will help the most this year, but I like all three.