Larry Johnson Ohio State Defensive Line Coach

Larry Johnson Updates Defensive Line Depth, Development Of Young Buckeyes

COLUMBUS — Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson met with reporters following spring practice Tuesday morning. He provided updates on the Buckeyes’ quest for depth on the interior, discussed a number of players, and looked ahead to what needs to happen over the final nine practices of spring camp. The highlights of everything he had to say can be found below.

  • Reaction to Jack Sawyer and JT Tuimoloau returning? They had great conversations leading up to that. Talked with them, talked with the parents. Still came down to making the best decisions for the guys.
  • Could this be his deepest and most talented line at OSU? They are stronger because of the guys who came back, other than Mike Hall. “There’s a chance for us to be really good.”
  • The younger guys need to be able to come in early in the season to play 25-30 plays per game. The young guys got some reps with the ones today to help get them ready.
  • Will Smith is healthy now and getting better. Jason Moore is having a good spring.
  • Tywone Malone is coming along. He was behind because of baseball. Now they see the growth and the potential.
  • Eddrick Houston’s recruitment was interesting. You think you’re done, then there’s a pause and a quietness. Nobody could get a hold of him. It scared everybody. He loves the place. His heart was always with Ohio State. But it was nerve wracking.
  • Caden Curry and Kenyatta Jackson and Mitchell Melton make the defensive ends five deep. A young guy could make it six.
  • Jason Moore is making a push. Hero Kanu and Kayden McDonald give them depth inside as well. They are getting a lot of work this spring.
  • How does he reassure recruits that he’s going to be here? “All I can do is tell them the truth.” When he makes the decision to retire, he will let the players know. He’s not going to leave somebody abruptly. If he tells them he’ll be here, he’ll be here.
  • Jack Sawyer played better football at the end of the season, but also more physical. And he brought the whole defensive line with him.
  • Jason Moore is 6-5, 295 pounds. He’s the ideal 3-tech in this system.
  • Kenyatta Jackson and Caden Curry could have gone into the portal, but they want to be here and be maximized. They have accepted their roles, but this is going to be a long season, so there will be opportunities for them to play.
  • Challenging Kenyatta Jackson? “It’s about being consistent.” He has all of the abilities, but it’s about being consistent. He’s doing a good job with that. He and Caden Curry are right where they need to be.
  • Eddrick Houston is taking part in a growth process. He’s here early so he needs to go through a growing stage of playing hard as a college football player. He has the physical skill to do that.
  • Still up in the air on who the third guy in at DT would be right now, but Kayden McDonald was mentioned first. “We’d like to see him continue to bring his weight down.”
  • Hero Kanu’s progression? It was a struggle early on for him as a freshman because he was still learning the game. Now with spring football and having last season, you’re seeing it starting to click.
  • What’s the next step for Tyleik Williams? Just continue to do what he’s doing. He’s working very hard. He runs to the ball full speed. He wants to be great and when you have that in your mind, you can do big things.
  • “I challenge myself every year as a coach — how can I be better?” He’s got great defensive line coaches with him right now.
  • “It’s pretty cool” to have his son Tony on staff right now.
  • Why is Ty Hamilton underrated? “I don’t see him as underrated. Ty is a hammer.” He tackles well on the inside. “He’s a sleeping giant.”
  • They talk about having to play a lot more games this year so the plan is to play younger guys early in the season.
  • “We don’t have jealousies in our room.” They want to win and they’ll do whatever kind of rotating it takes in order to get to where they want to be at the end of the season.
  • The lack of rotating last year was about the young guys not being ready for tough situations.
  • “I think it’s great” to cross train Jack Sawyer and JT Tuimoloau outside linebackers in a five-man front. They haven’t done that yet but it’s part of the thought process.
  • He looks for matchups when it comes to employing the Rushmen package. If there’s a guard they want to attack, they’ll look at that.

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