Kenyatta Jackson Ohio State Buckeyes Defensive End

Important Spring Ahead For Kenyatta Jackson, Omari Abor

Second-year defensive ends Kenyatta Jackson and Omari Abor are headed for their first spring camp as Buckeyes, and it is going to be the most important five weeks of their Ohio State football lives to this point.

Both players redshirted last year. Jackson played in three games, while Abor only saw action once. Abor battled injuries, but both were also victims of a deep defensive end room.

Three of those defensive ends are now gone, however, and the Buckeyes will enter spring with just three defensive ends that have seen any meaningful action. Rising juniors JT Tuimoloau and Jack Sawyer, and rising sophomore Caden Curry are the top three, and expectations are high for each of them.

Plenty Of Room At The Inn

Three is far from a crowd, however. The Buckeyes need a deeper room at defensive end, and it needs to come from Jackson and Abor.

“Well, they’ve flashed the whole season,” defensive line coach Larry Johnson said of Jackson and Abor earlier this week. “I really like KJ. KJ has done a great job. Has some really, really good pass rush ability. Omar is really strong. Really physical guy who is up to 265. Came in at 240. He’s a real strong and physical guy.”

Abor’s season was limited by injuries, but he was able to come back strong enough to finally have his black stripe removed in early December. The removal of the black stripe indicates that a young player has done enough to earn the customary Buckeye stripe down the middle of their helmet.

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What did it take?

“You’ve got to work,” Johnson said. “You’ve got to work. He’s been out a little bit, but now that he’s back for us, you can see him growing.”

Abor has added 25 pounds, and Jackson isn’t too far behind. With some added strength and weight, Jackson could be a weapon as a pass rusher.

“He is starting to change right now,” Johnson said. “You can see it. He can rush the passer. Really smart, really bright. Very cerebral. A guy who understands the game, and that’s critical for a young player.”

The Future Starts Now

With the 15 practices in spring, Jackson will get something he never got a year ago. And this is just the start.

“I’m hoping by the end as we get through spring ball and moving into the summer, we should see a big change,” Johnson said. “He’s got the frame, he’s got the body. Now he’s just gotta get some experience. I’m really excited about him.”

Abor came to Ohio State from Duncanville, Texas where he was the No. 6 edge prospect in the nation. One spot ahead of him in the defensive end rankings was teammate Kenyatta Jackson, out of Hollywood, Florida. Both were ranked ahead of Caden Curry, but it was Curry who enrolled early and played in every game last season.

Now, Abor and Jackson have to catch up quickly, but can they?

“I think spring football, this is what it’s all about, you get the chance to see those guys play a lot of football in the spring,” Johnson said. “And I think coming out of spring, then I will be able to answer that question for you. But I think I’m excited to see what happens with the young guys.”

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