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2016 OSU Spring Positional Recap: Defensive Tackle
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS — The Buckeyes entered spring camp not only looking for two new starters at defensive tackle, but looking for an entire rotation. Losing seniors Adolphus Washington, Tommy Schutt and Joel Hale thinned out the defensive tackle position, but it also left a huge void in the rotation.

It also didn't help matters when veteran backup Donovan Munger's playing days had to come to an early end this spring due to blood clots.

As a position group, this may have been the largest area of concern as Ohio State began spring camp. As they left it, however, it was impossible not to be impressed by the possibilities of the young talent on hand, as well as the emergence of two talented veterans.

Starters Returning: None

Others Returning: Jashon Cornell (6-3 275, rFr); Robert Landers (6-1 290, rFr); Joshua Alabi (6-5 295, rFr); Dylan Thompson (6-5 275, rSo); Davon Hamilton (6-4 300, rFr); Michael Hill (6-3 295, rJr); Dre'Mont Jones (6-3 280, rFr); Tracy Sprinkle (6-3 290, rJr)

Michael Hill (nose tackle) and Tracy Sprinkle spent the spring running with the ones the entire way. They are expected to be the starters in the fall. Hill started a bit last year in place of Schutt, and Sprinkle was in the rotation as well a year ago. Both players are entering their fourth year and they have enough experience at this point to be considered veterans.

"Mike's doing really well," defensive line coach Larry Johnson said this spring. "He's the force inside, the big guy inside that can take on the double team, and that's what we want inside to allow our other guys to go free. That's his job and he does it really well. He's had a really good spring. He started four or five games last year when we had some injuries and I think now he sees what he can be."

While Hill is expected to be the run stopper, Sprinkle's skills involve getting after the passer.

"He can really rush the passer, one thing that Tracy can do is really rush the passer," Johnson said. "You take that kind of skill, he's got great hips, he's got a great understanding of the game, very smart, so Tracy is a really good player for us right now."

Aside from Hill and Sprinkle, the main reason the staff was so pleased with how the spring ended for the defensive tackles was because of the way four redshirt freshmen played.

Davon Hamilton, Rob Landers, Jashon Cornell and Dre'Mont Jones all had their moments throughout camp, and each of them showed the kind of explosion and leverage that has everyone excited about them. Hamilton and Cornell dominated the spring game, and Landers and Jones weren't too shabby themselves.

"We took two guys and moved them inside," Johnson said. "We took Jashon and we took Dre’Mont and moved them inside and that's been a really pleasant surprise, how they adapted playing inside closer to the ball being an outside guy. They're working real hard at it. Davon Hamilton is a guy who is starting to make a push, and BB (Landers) is showing real well. So for the young guys this is a process and they're all working through it, but they're working at it and that's the encouraging part of it."

Joshua Alabi wasn't seen much this spring when the media was allowed into practice, but for the first time in a while Dylan Thompson actually was. Thompson has battled injuries throughout his entire career, but probably got more reps this spring than at any other time previously.

Newcomers: Malik Barrow (6-3 287, Fr)

If you were one of the lucky few to see Malik Barrow play in high school last season prior to tearing his ACL, you would have seen one of the best players in the nation. He was not only unblockable for his IMG team, he was unslowdownable. His rehab is going very well, and while he did enroll early and has worked out with the Buckeyes, he was not yet able to practice.

While most don't expect this to happen, incoming freshman Nick Bosa could also end up defensive tackle. Johnson doesn't yet know for a certainty where Bosa will line up, and he won't know until he gets on campus and they begin working him out.

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