Ohio State had one of the best seasons in program history last year, and it came with the help of some young players. Now as the younger Buckeyes enter another year for the Buckeyes, they may be expected to take on expanded roles. Lettermen Row is breaking down a play from each key inexperienced Buckeye and how it can help provide a glimpse into each of their futures. Next up: Javontae Jean-Baptiste can be a key defensive end for Ohio State.
COLUMBUS — Javontae Jean-Baptiste is still developing along the defensive line for Ohio State.
Two years ago, Jean-Baptiste was recruited as an outside linebacker, and although there was always a chance of him transitioning to defensive end, he came to Ohio State as a raw defensive talent. Now that he has two years of work under legendary defensive line coach Larry Johnson, results are starting to pour in.
Jean-Baptiste had a sack in back-to-back games on the road at Indiana and then at home against Miami (Ohio). He finished the season with 14 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. There’s still plenty of room to grow.
“It’s more about maximizing yourself every day and maximizing our unit,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said of the defense. “Playing with toughness, playing with effort, running to the football, because there’s a lot of areas we weren’t perfect on defense last year. We got a lot better, did a lot of good things. But we weren’t perfect as a unit.”
Jean-Baptiste played in all 14 games on defense and special teams. Now that Chase Young is gone to the NFL, Ohio State may resort to a defensive line committee approach rather than a dominant force and role players around him.
Those plans will likely have to include Jean-Baptiste as an option as a pass-rusher in crucial moments. He hasn’t had a chance to play in those moments yet, but with more experience, those will come.
The play: In the fourth quarter of the Buckeyes early-season blowout win over Indiana, Jean-Baptiste made his first impression at defensive end.
Jean-Baptiste made the right tackle look silly on his way to the Indiana quarterback, where he recorded his first career Ohio State sack. Jean-Baptiste shed the tackles with quick hands and a great burst of speed on his way to the quarterback, showing a small glimpse of what he can become with more time to develop under Larry Johnson.
Ohio State will have plenty of options next season along the defensive line. Jonathon Cooper, Tyreke Smith, Tyler Friday and Zach Harrison will all be in the mix and make up a talented, potentially dominant defensive line unit that could be the best in the country.
With another offseason of improvement, Javontae Jean-Baptiste can be in the mix to provide another talented option for the Buckeyes.