July 10, 2012

Defensive tackles make Ohio State line flexible

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With Ohio State's fall camp a month away from kicking off, we at Buckeye Grove have decided to take a look at the roster that Urban Meyer will be working with in his first year as Ohio State's head coach. Today, we'll take a look at the current state of the Buckeyes' defensive tackles. You can see yesterday's preview of the Ohio State defensive ends by clicking here.

Thanks to a plethora of talent at one position and a lack of depth at another, the Ohio State football team often found itself playing more defensive tackles than it probably would have liked to in 2011. This development led to the emergence of multiple rising stars and a depth chart that's littered with players who could see significant playing time in 2012.

The biggest Buckeye star at defensive tackle- both literally and figuratively- is 6-foot-4, 317-pound Johnathan Hankins. A true space-eater in every sense of the word, the junior has been a mainstay on the OSU defensive line through the first two years of his college career and is already projected to be an NFL first round pick.

Despite his size, Hankins has shown great agility, recording 67 tackles- including 11 for a loss- and three sacks in 2011.

True sophomore Michael Bennett heads into fall camp as Hankins' understudy at defensive tackle, although Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said that the true sophomore's status as a back-up may only be temporary.

"I know I've got him listed behind Johnathan Hankins, but that's not necessarily going to be the case next fall," Meyer said of Bennett. "We'll rotate guys, and our best four will be on the field at one time. It's hard for me to say he's not one of our four best. We'll move him around."

The 6-foot-3, 277-pound Bennett saw plenty of playing time during his freshman season, accumulating 17 tackles- five of which were for a loss of yards- and three sacks. The Centerville, Ohio native has the ability to play both defensive tackle and defensive end for the Buckeyes.

Adding both depth and talent to the defensive tackle position this season will be true freshman Tommy Schutt. A four-star recruit and the No. 1 player coming out of the state of Illinois, the 6-foot-3, 301-pound Schutt already has the size to contribute immediately at the college level.

Starting alongside Hankins at nose guard will be fifth-year senior Garrett Goebel. A starter for a part of last season, the 6-foot-4, 285-pound Goebel recorded 33 tackles and one sack in 2011 and possesses the ability to play both inside and outside on the defensive line.

Backing up Goebel heading into fall camp will be sophomore Joel Hale. The 6-foot-4, 295-pound Greenwood, Ind. native appeared in nine games for the Buckeyes in 2011, but only managed to record four tackles in that time.

A wildcard at the nose guard position this season could be 6-foot-4, 358-pound freshman Chris Carter. A converted offensive lineman, the redshirt freshman's playing time will ultimately be decided by his own level of conditioning.

"If he can get in shape, he'll play here," Meyer said. "If he can't, no chance."

Rounding out Ohio State's defensive line unit are senior walk-ons Dalton Britt and Kharim Stephens.


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