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Ohio State Football fall camp: What’s up with Jack Sawyer and JT Tuimoloau as potential defensive line starters?

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State Football had its second day of fall camp Friday in preparation for the 2022 season.

The Buckeyes’ second practice session gave a glimpse of what the starting squad might look like when Notre Dame comes to Columbus on Sept. 3. This sneak peek answers a question that comes up at every OSU fall camp: Will the coaching staff lean? towards experienced guys or the young and talented players who might have the higher ceiling?

Here’s everything we saw on defense on Day 2:

For the most part, Ohio State’s starting 11 was consistent with what we discussed in the back seven on our Mark it Down Monday podcast. But the top four caused a few surprises:

line of defense: Jack Sawyer, Ty Hamilton, Tyleik Williams and JT Tuimoloau

Sawyer and Tuimoloau are five-star recruits entering their sophomore year with all the hype and potential in the world to become Ohio State’s next big edge rushers. Zach Harrison and Tyler Friday followed as two boys – along with Javontae Jean-Baptiste – were expected to be contributors as well. But bringing the two younger boys onto the field means both could be ready to take the next step in their development. More importantly, Larry Johnson might be willing to push them to the top.

Johnson will rotate the inner boys, but starting Hamilton and Williams over Jeron Cage and Taron Vincent is like starting Sawyer and Tuimoloau on the sidelines. They mixed and matched the guys during practices, with Mike Hall and Jaden McKenzie also coming into the mix.

Caden Curry was the only true freshman who seemed to get reps with every group outside of the twos, which is not surprising since he is the only one who signed up early. He, Sawyer, Kenyatta Jackson and Omari Abor also had moments when they stood up.

Linebacker: Steele Chambers and Tommy Eichenberg

While the starting linebackers aren’t surprising, their approach during practice may have opened the door to what Jim Knowles is prioritizing. Linebackers were split into two groups: the Wills (Chambers, Chip Trayanum, and CJ Hicks) and everyone else.

The Will group ran drills aimed at a player preparing to be more of a playmaker on Saturdays. During exercises, they had to react quickly, play in space and attack a ball carrier.

• The other group consisted of the Mikes (Tommy Eichenberg, Cody Simon and Gabe Powers) and the Sams (Teradja Mitchell, Gaoteote and Reid Carrico), who spent most of their time doing more traditional linebacker drills.

cornerback: Denzel Burke and Cameron Brown

As the twos took the field, JK Johnson shared a side with Brown while Jordan Hancock shared a side with Burke. IF Ohio State ends up with a four-man rotation, it looks like who’s rotating with whom.

On the drills, Burke went first, followed by Brown, Hancock, Johnson, Jyaire Brown, Ryan Turner, and kicker/cornerback Jake Seibert.

Security: Ronnie Hickman, Josh Proctor and Tanner McCalister.

Yesterday’s security groups stuck to who was with whom in what order. But the positional group functioned much like the linebackers did when they disbanded. Bandits (Proctor, Kourt Williams, Jaylen Johnson, and Sonny Styles) went one way while everyone else went another.

Adjusters (Hickman, Lathan Ransom, Kye Stokes and Jantzen Dunn) were joined by Nickels (McCalister and Cameron Martinez) who performed traditional safety drills. Bandits performed these exercises as well, but also implemented some unique gameplay elements.

Whether linebacker or safety, when dividing the groups within the positions, a similar concept seemed to be in play: Playmakers vs. Do Your Job Guys.

Guys in playmaker positions (Will and Bandit) are always doing things that require them to be in that mindset. Whereas the Do Your Job guys act more as quarterbacks for their units.

It’s the same for a coach who spent the last four years of his career in the Big 12 playing against passing offense and joins the Big Ten. This approach — along with periods dedicated to the three-linebacker look — prepares you for when it’s time to face a run-heavy team like Wisconsin, or a team that relies on their tight ends in the passing game , like Notre Dame.

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