Healthy Larimore Having Big Impact

He does not play a glamorous position that puts up lots of numbers, but that does not mean fifth-year senior defensive tackle Dexter Larimore is not having a big impact for the Buckeyes this season. has more.

This is the kind of season Dexter Larimore had hoped for last season.

Now a fifth-year senior, the Ohio State defensive tackle sits tied for sixth on the team with nine tackles and is second in tackles for a loss with three. The 6-2, 310-pound Larimore is proving to be a disruptive force as an interior lineman for the Buckeyes.

The task will be to keep it going. Last year, Larimore recorded 13 tackles in the first three games of the season and was up to 17 two weeks later when he suffered a knee injury during a road victory against Indiana that kept him out of action for the next four weeks and prevented him from regaining his early-season form.

"I feel a lot better than I did last year," he said during fall camp. "At the beginning of the season I was really doing well and playing well. Luckily I was able to get back in shape for Oregon. It's good to be out there being able to run around and play."

In the Rose Bowl victory against the Ducks, Larimore recorded two tackles. Those, combined with a stop in the regular-season finale against Michigan gave him 20 for the season. It was his most productive season, but Larimore did not record a tackle behind the line of scrimmage.

So far this season, Tressel said Larimore has been an integral part of the OSU defense.

"Dexter has given us good leadership to start with," the coach said, "and then if you're solid right there in the middle, when you play that position you're making them spend two guys on you. If you can hold up and free up (line)backers and those kinds of things, that's important. If people can move your middle and push it backwards into your linebackers' laps, it's hard to have good linebackers."

Senior linebacker Ross Homan leads the team with 21 tackles despite missing time at the end of two blowout victories. Fellow senior linebacker Brian Rolle is third on the team with 12 stops.

Larimore pointed out that injuries come with the territory when playing in the middle of the defensive line. As he looked back on his situation last season, Larimore admitted to not being conditioned well enough when he returned to action against Penn State. In one minute of action, he did not record a statistic.

In all, he saw 13 minutes of action as a reserve in the final three games of the season.

"It's something you realize on your own," he said of being out of shape. "You're out there and you're a little winded after a couple plays and like, ‘Man, I need to get in the weight room and get on the stairmaster and get my wind up to make sure I can play as much as we need.' "

Prior to the season, Tressel said Larimore had undergone a surgery, although he did not specify what type of surgery or when it occurred.

Junior center Michael Brewster, who frequently goes against Larimore in practice, said the former Indiana wrestling champion brings a physical style of play to the table.

"Dex is a big, wide dude," Brewster said. "He's powerful and he was the best wrestler in the country his senior year. You know that he can play low. I really have to play low because if you don't play low against him, he's going to beat you.

"We make each other better. Dexter plays low and he makes me play low so when it gets to games, sometimes games feel a little bit easier than practice just because those guys are so good."

Following OSU's 36-24 victory against Miami (Fla.) in week two, Larimore was named the team's attack force player of the week despite recording only two tackles. As Tressel pointed out, his impact is not always measured in statistics.

"He had a productive day and did a good job from a leadership standpoint," the coach said. "The nice thing as you look at who stepped up in this ball game, it was your older, experienced guys, guys who had been there before and understood what it was going to take. Dexter did an excellent job on that defensive front."

Tressel said Larimore makes his job easier.

"If you had everyone like Dexter, you could take vacation as a coach," he said.

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