The Ohio State defense got an extra year out of defensive tackle Haskell Garrett last year when he chose to come back for a fifth year. Garrett played in over 50 games in his Buckeye career and spent the bulk of the last two years as the starting three technique defensive tackle.
Garrett led the Ohio State defense in 2021 with 7.0 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. As a junior in 2020, he finished with 20 tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, and an interception. He was named a First-Team All-American that year by CBS Sports.
Garrett played a little as a true freshman in 2017 but was a part of the defensive tackle rotation in 2018 and 2019. His departure leaves a void of both production and experience. Fortunately for the Buckeyes, there are some options for 2022.
Even though the discussion here is about replacing Haskell Garrett in the Ohio State starting lineup, it was actually fourth-year junior Taron Vincent who started seven games at three tech for the Buckeyes in 2021. Vincent finished with 23 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and 0.5 sacks this past season. He also started a game at nose tackle early in the season. Vincent can help provide the experience that will be missed with Garrett’s departure, and possibly the production as well.
Thanks to his 16 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, and 5.0 sacks as a true freshman in 2021, Tyleik Williams earned Freshman All-America honors from a number of outlets. Williams was one of the pleasant surprises of the 2021 recruiting class for the Buckeyes and perhaps no player had Ohio State fans clamoring for more snaps this past season than he did.
The highest-ranked defensive tackle in OSU’s class last year was actually Ohio-native Michael Hall who ended up playing in just four games and redshirting in 2021. He is expected to see playing time next season. Just how much time, however, will be up to him and his development over the next eight months or so.
There may also be a move from nose tackle to three tech for a guy like Ty Hamilton. Other names that could be involved are upperclassmen like Jaden McKenzie and Noah Potter. Potter missed the season due to injury and McKenzie only saw action in three games.
The Buckeyes also signed one true defensive tackle in the 2022 class in Hero Kanu. Kanu won’t be enrolling until the summer, so it may be difficult for him to get into the rotation as a true freshman.
Given his fifth-year status, there may not be a need for Taron Vincent to command a bunch of reps this spring. He’s been around long enough that he probably doesn’t need all of the work that his fourth spring camp can provide. He’ll certainly be involved, but March and April can be an opportunity for Tyleik Williams and Michael Hall to work on their respective games.
Defensive line coach Larry Johnson and defensive coordinator Jim Knowles will likely move guys around as they have done in the past. Spring will be an opportunity for Knowles to get a first-hand look at what his 2022 defensive line is going to look like. Mixing and matching will eventually have to lead to a definitive plan of attack. Does the depth chart at nose tackle affect the depth chart at three tech? Which spots will Williams and Hall actually end up occupying?
These are still questions that need to be answered. Will that happen by the end of spring? Maybe, maybe not.
The Best Bet
Taron Vincent is the best bet to be starting once again a three tech for the Buckeyes. That is probably the easiest question to answer here. The bigger question is where does Tyleik Williams end up. There are certainly enough snaps for both Vincent and Williams together at three tech, but would there be more snaps for Williams at nose? Or Vincent, for that matter?
Much of this discussion hinges on the development of Michael Hall and how much he shows in spring and fall camp. If the coaches think he needs to be on the field, three guys at one position will make playing time hard to come by. It’s certainly a good problem to have, but it’s also one that will need a solution when the time comes.
Overall, there is depth and talent on hand to help replace Haskell Garrett and enough experience to establish the kind of leadership that Garrett left behind.