Steve Miller and Rashad Frazier exhausted their eligibility a season ago, while Joey Bosa will be suspended for the game against the Hokies. The No. 4 end from a year ago, Tyquan Lewis, is back, and when it came to filling those two holes, head coach Urban Meyer didn’t leave much question speaking Sunday.
“Tyquan has got one spot,” Meyer said.
Well, that has to be kind of fun to hear if you’re Lewis, right?
“It’s an incredible feeling, just everything you work for,” Lewis told BuckeyeSports.com. “I accept the responsibility that comes with it. I just enjoy playing next to everybody else. It’s a foundation that was build and laid down, I just enjoy that part of it. I just love playing for the people I’m next to. They really inspire me and we all motivate each other.”
Speaking with Lewis, it doesn’t take very long to realize that he’s genuine. He seems grateful to be in the spot he’s in, but he also knows he’s worked his behind off to get there.
A four-star member of Ohio State’s class of 2013 after making 13 sacks his senior year at Tarboro (N.C.) High School, Lewis took a redshirt his first year before getting his feet wet a season ago. The 6-4, 260-pounder finished last year with nine tackles in 15 games and 201 defensive snaps, though he did have 2½ tackles for loss and half a sack in his debut season.
Perhaps most importantly, he played when the lights were at their brightest, including 25 plays in the College Football Playoff championship game win vs. Oregon.
“Those experiences gave me a different perspective as far as game speed and things like that, just trying to become a better player each and every week,” he said. “Now it’s like, if you do everything at game speed, the game becomes a lot easier. That’s why we practice so hard. That’s what clicked in my mind – if I practice hard, I can be a great player.”
He seems to have lived up to that advice this past offseason, working at a level that has led Meyer to publicly proclaim him a starter for the Buckeyes consistently since last season. That was even before the suspension to Bosa, the returning unanimous All-American who nearly set the OSU record with 13½ sacks a season ago.
But to hear Lewis tell it, he didn’t go into the offseason with the view that he had to do anything special to grab the spot vacated by Miller and Frazier. Instead, he simply dedicated himself to his craft.
“I feel like the best players will play, but then if you just do your job and do everything right, things will fall into place for you,” he said. “If you just go hard and do everything that you’re supposed to do, I feel like everything falls into place for a reason. You want to be the person someone can count on. That’s it. We all just go out there and work hard, just for each other.
“It’s not just for a spot; I think that’s the thing that separates us. We love each other and care about each other. That’s why we do it.”
Now, Lewis will get his biggest chance yet to show off what he brings to the table. Buckeye fans likely haven’t seen a lot of Lewis yet, but that will change now that Meyer says he’s earned a starting role.
“As far as like what I can do, my abilities are speed and power,” he said. “I just get off the ball real fast, and they don’t expect the strength, I guess, because my arms aren’t as big as everybody’s, but I’m explosive. I just use my explosiveness off the ball.”