Jack Sawyer, Mitchell Melton are among the top candidates to play Jack in Jim Knowles defense of Ohio State

There’s been a lot of talk about the Leo position since Jim Knowles moved from Stillwater to Columbus, but as of Tuesday, very little of it had come from Ohio State program members.

In fact, when asked about the hybrid quarterback/ultimate defensive position — a calling card from the former Knowles defenses at Oklahoma State and Duke — Buckeye’s players were purposely pityed this spring.

“Leo? Yeah, I don’t know what a Leo is, I don’t know what you guys are talking about, frankly,” sophomore, defensive end, Jack Sawyer He said in a teaser last week. “I haven’t heard of the lion. Have you guys heard of the lion? I haven’t. Honestly, we haven’t done much with her yet. So I honestly can’t give you (much about her).”

At least through the first week of spring practice, Knowles made it clear that the Buckeyes won’t have to worry about implementing the situation early, as the team still has a lot to accomplish in digging out the basics from its core four-wheel look. But three weeks later, Ohio State began putting together the package, and her name — Jack, not Leo, for now — coincidentally reflects the player who appears to be the lead candidate for the role at the moment.

“We dropped a bunch of them today, actually,” Knowles said. “So my plan was to back off, back off, so I’m going to download a bunch of info and then I’m going to call back the same defense for a while and then download a bunch of info. We want to be able to film everything so we can practice with it. But we’re putting it in today.”

“I told them we won’t call him Leo, we’ll call him Jack for now, because the lion is the king of the jungle. So when you become a Leo, it’s a big deal because you can do what the D-end does and you do what the linebacker does. So now it’s more of what we call it Jack’s position.

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“A bunch of guys got shot today. Jack (Sawyer) got a bullet in it. I love him, I love him so much. He’s serious about it.”

Besides Sawyer, another player Knowles would love in Jack’s position now is sophomore red shirt student Mitchell Melton, who started his Buckeye career as a quarterback but has been working with Larry Johnson and Ohio State defensive line this spring since returning from an injury at the end of the season. . suffered last year. Milton’s 6-foot-3, 245-pound frame is smaller than Sawyer’s, but larger than most linebackers on Buckeye’s roster.

“The guy who impressed me after the move, quickly, was Mitchell (Milton). Mitchell did a great job of coach Johnson, and then we put him in this Jack position and I thought he turned out very well,” Knowles said. Muna.”

Milton was also the latest recipient of Knowles’ new distinction of the day’s silver bullet, awarded to the individual Buckeyes defender after each day of paddling training as voted on by the staff.

But Sawyer and Milton aren’t the only Buckeyes who’ve seen actors at Jack’s location, as Knowles doesn’t seem to be afraid to experiment with a plethora of different body types in the mixed zone depending on alignment, match, or circumstance. Besides the aforementioned couple, Knowles said that Jafontay Jean Baptiste, Caden Carey and Balai Gauette tried their hand at Jack on Tuesday.

“JJB, he played quite a bit today, he was kind of coming off injury so he got some guide reps. Caden (Carrey) is a candidate, I liked some of the things he did in terms of his speed of the ball so he’s a guy we look at. Then from the quarterback position EA, we want to try to find a role for him,” Knowles said. “So we had EA involved in this Jack position, and then also in Sam’s position which we will sometimes use against teams when they are playing with two tight ends, which it does insult us a little bit. So we got the EA in there.”

Knowles said JT Tuimoloau could also play Jack “at the end”, but “it’s just about who’s better and who’s better up front as well.”

At the origin of the hybrid situation popularized by Knowles, the 35-year-old college veteran coach said he was designed to influence the running game of opposing offense first and foremost, but it has evolved into a role that creates multiple facets. effect on the discount.

“It definitely started out as a problem for the operating scheme,” Knowles said. “You talk to the offensive coaches and they have to make different plans for three base fours down and what do you do and can you do them from the same individuals? So it starts as a breaker of the running game and then it moves on to how to attack the protections. Now all of a sudden as soon as you make the guy move, you get it in Different places, now you see how the crime adapts to it and their plans and you can come back with other things and fight back in the scrolling game.

“This player is productive in terms of impulsivity because I think they develop the mindset of being a wild card, being a guy who makes plays. I think it’s a great recruiting tool. But yeah, I started in a running game.”

Slowly starting to implement the new concepts, Knowles knows he must push the Buckeyes into relative haste given the expectation of an immediate turnaround in defense. But he also knows that putting too much on his players can be overwhelming, and he’s had to tread carefully in balancing that dynamic.

However, Knowles said he only expects Bakai’s defenders to know “two-thirds” of his defensive plan by the end of the spring.

“You just have to look them in the eye,” Knowles said, “because we’re going in one day and we’re going down nine thrusters in our jetpack, which we call Jack.” “And then you do it against the cans, you go around and you do it against the trash cans only, and then you do it against the offense. And then I run like crazy and I’m like, ‘Go here, go there.’ And then they’re fine, and then you see their eyes kind of shine, and then You know, well, it’s time to call the base. “Give me a period of base four down,” and then kind of back off.”

Ohio State is far from finished installing its new defense, and with a few concepts—including Jack’s stance—it’s just getting started. But Knowles is ramping up the learning curve for his pupils as Spring continues to move, and he hopes to have exposed the Buckeyes to a large part of his system by the time the Spring game is over.

“I want to have it all out of urgency, but also to be able to teach,” Knowles said. “I don’t want to keep showing an Oklahoma State movie. So I want to get it on tape, good or not, and then we can learn from it all summer long. We can put it all together and learn from it.”

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