Kayden McDonald Ohio State Buckeyes Defensive Tackle

Closer Look: Kayden McDonald Could Help Buckeyes Immediately

Kayden McDonald is a 6-foot-3, 310-pound freshman defensive tackle out of North Gwinnett High School in Suwanee, Georgia. As a junior and senior in high school, he compiled a ridiculous 98 tackles for loss and 32 sacks. He was ranked the No. 18 defensive tackle in the nation by 247Sports, and the No. 136 player overall.

McDonald won’t arrive at Ohio State until this summer, but he could be part of the Buckeyes’ plans immediately.

What To Like

A 300-pound defensive tackle in high school is almost always going to be a load to move for an offensive line, but simply getting in the way is not what Ohio State is looking for. The Buckeyes want playmakers on the defensive line, and that perfectly describes Kayden McDonald.

For instance, as a junior, McDonald once had seven sacks in a first-round playoff game.

Any big-bodied defensive tackle can get in the way of where a play is going, but the good ones get in the way wherever the play is going.

McDonald does a good job of shedding high school blocks, using quick hands, nimble feet, and the kind of momentum that doesn’t slow down easily.

He will either get off the block, or take the blocker to the play.

The Potential

Kayden McDonald has the size and strength to defend the run, but defensive line coach Larry Johnson also wants his defensive tackles to rush the passer.

That fact alone gives you a pretty good idea as to why the Buckeyes recruited McDonald in the first place.

McDonald shows tremendous quickness at times with his pass rush, not unlike current Buckeye junior defensive tackle Tyleik Williams. Both players are listed at over 300 pounds but they get after the quarterback like a smaller defensive lineman.

Regardless of the down and distance, McDonald is a guy who can make an impact on any particular play. He can stretch out a run play down the line, or push a guard into the play and blow it up entirely. Or he can simply knife into the backfield before the quarterback even has an opportunity to make a read.

The Expectations

The Buckeyes are looking for a fourth defensive tackle to go along with veterans Ty Hamilton, Mike Hall, and Tyleik Williams. Had Kayden McDonald enrolled early, perhaps he would have already secured that role.

Still, based on his overall skill set, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him impress during fall camp and start to gain some momentum. He won’t be alone in that quest, however, as the Buckeyes have brought in two other defensive tackles in the 2023 class. They are still also recruiting Ole Miss DT transfer Tywone Malone, who will be making a decision shortly.

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The Bottom Line

It’s easy to see why Larry Johnson and defensive coordinator Jim Knowles liked Kayden McDonald. He gets moving quickly and has momentum behind him like he’s being pulled toward the football.

As he gets stronger and gains comfort as a college tackle, the natural talent that is readily apparent will become more constant. McDonald will show flashes this season, but the sooner those flashes stop strobing, the more he’ll get on the field when the game is still in doubt.

And if defense doesn’t work out for him this year, the Buckeyes may have found a replacement for departed fullback Mitch Rossi.

Previous Closer Look editions

Offensive Lineman Vic Cutler | Cornerback Davison Igbinosun | Safety Ja’Had Carter | Wide Receiver Brandon Inniss | Cornerback Jermaine Mathews, Jr.

2 Replies to Closer Look: Kayden McDonald Could Help Buckeyes Immediately

  1. Coach Knowles needs to take a good look at Maximilian Granville at Fort Bend Academy in Sugar Land Texas. His dad Billy Granville played for the Cincinnati Bengals and then the Houston Texans.

    Good looking Edge Rusher…. Like Chase Young

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