COLUMBUS — Taron Vincent waited long enough at Ohio State.
After appearing in 10 games as a freshman, he was ready for a big season in a deep interior defensive line rotation a year ago before an injury sidelined him all season. He had to wait to play, rehabbing and recovering all year instead.
Then spring practice came, and when he was finally ready to be unleashed and begin proving why he was a top-20 player in the 2018 recruiting class, spring ball was canceled due to the pandemic. The waiting continued. But whenever the Buckeyes can return to the field, Vincent will finally have a chance to prove the hype and the recruiting ranking were more than just numbers.
With a wide-open depth chart, Vincent could be the future of the 3-technique at Ohio State.
“It’s been hard to watch all my brothers ball out,” Vincent told Lettermen Row in December. “But I’m proud of all of those guys, DaVon [Hamilton], Jashon [Cornell], BB [Landers] — they were getting what they deserve. I’m so glad for them.”
Hamilton, Cornell and Landers certainly had a huge impact on the Ohio State defensive front last season, and none of the three will be easy to replace. Vincent seemed ready to take over in the middle alongside Tommy Togiai, Antwuan Jackson and Haskell Garrett. But three practices isn’t enough.
“It’s tough, you know, to miss those reps,” Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson said. “You can’t get those back. I was really pleased that he returned from his injury really well. I think our staff did a great job of getting him ready.”
He was certainly ready, and he’ll have to stay ready through the shutdown until the Buckeyes can return to the field for offseason workouts. Although it was only a three-practice window, Vincent was already showing this spring why he was so highly-rated as a recruit out of the IMG Academy in Florida.
The Buckeyes are hoping that was more than just a three-practice sample.
“As we were getting going, you started to see some of the things you recruited [Vincent] for,” Johnson said. “So, it was just unfortunate that we ended things early. But we’re hopeful that we’ll get back together and get going again. I’m really looking forward to some big things for him going into the fall.”
Vincent could become one of the cornerstones of a young defensive line for Johnson and Ohio State. The three seniors who graduated will be missed. But Haskell Garrett, Antwuan Jackson and Tommy Togiai all three saw extensive playing time in the rotation last year while Vincent was recovering from his injury. It’s easy to see how Vincent could have played into the plans last year when the defensive line was so deep. But the injury forced him to the sidelines, watching six — and sometimes seven — Buckeyes dominate opposing offensive lines.
With two seasons under his belt at Ohio State, one on the field and one off, Vincent could finally see the field in a huge moment. His five-star status proves his potential is there.
After a year on the shelf, Vincent is in a great spot heading into next season. A favorable depth chart is already there. With more reps coming whenever Ohio State is cleared for practice again, Taron Vincent might be finished waiting.
It might finally be time for a breakout.