Kayden McDonald Ohio State Buckeyes Defensive Tackle

‘No Bad Days’ Is The Goal For Kayden McDonald

Ohio State defensive tackle Kayden McDonald played in seven games last year as a true freshman for the Buckeyes, including six of the final eight games of the season.

He was only credited with one tackle, but it was still a solid experience for a young player who is going to be asked to step up this season.

With the Buckeyes returning one of their top two nose tackles from last season, McDonald is going to be tasked with contributing much more than he did a year ago. Fortunately for the Ohio State defense, McDonald had a strong and productive spring and showcased a lot of his power and quickness.

McDonald credits veterans like Ty Hamilton and Tyleik Williams for showing him the way, and defensive line coach Larry Johnson and former pass rush coach Brandon “BT” Jordan for helping him refine his technique.

“The vets, they really get us ready,” McDonald said this spring. “Coach J bringing in BT really helped us get looking at all three levels of our game. So I feel like what we got right now, the role I’ve got to step in is a big role and I’ve got to do it early in the season.”

Every Ohio State assistant has been echoing head coach Ryan Day’s charge that the younger Buckeyes need to be ready to play early this season so that the veterans aren’t worn down over the course of what is expected to be a longer season than normal.

McDonald also knows that playing time isn’t just going to happen. There will always be a competition for snaps, and he has taken that to heart.

“I gotta prove it every day,” he said. “You can’t have any bad days at Ohio State. So I prepare to have a good day every day. I took different steps — being in the film room and working on my craft. I think it has been better for me.”

Listed at 6-foot-2 and 319 pounds, McDonald worked hard in the winter to get into better shape and improve his strength.

As for the results this spring?

“I feel like I’m showing it,” he said.

Being a nose tackle, Kayden McDonald’s first job is to stop the run. It’s not the flashiest position, but he has been known to make plays in the past. He also believes he will be able to make plays in the future as well.

“I can make plays in this scheme,” he said. “Stop the run. That’s the number one thing. That’s what I live by, stopping the run. That’s why I came here.”

All touted high school recruits want to play as many snaps as possible as true freshmen. At a place like Ohio State, however, that’s not always going to happen. McDonald played just 35 snaps last season, which was about an average game for co-starters Mike Hall and Ty Hamilton last year.

While the lack of playing time wasn’t easy, McDonald made the most of the opportunity.

“It was tough, you know, but I’m learning from guys like Mike Hall, Ty Hamilton, Tyleik,” he said. “These guys are pro guys, so I’m gonna ask as many questions as I have for them and just really get better every day.”

That process has hopefully prepared him for a larger role this season. Hamilton returns as the starter, and there are other young tackles like Hero Kanu in the mix as well, but Kayden McDonald knows that it’s going to take all of them.

And he’s put in the work to make it happen.

“Yeah, I got a big chip on my shoulder,” he said. “I don’t take any days for granted because you’ve got to play every play like your last play. So that’s how I do it. I’m just really motivated. It’s a big season coming up, 17 games, somebody’s got to step up.”

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