Following spring practice on Tuesday, Ohio State football head coach Urban Meyer paid one of his defensive tackles a compliment.
“Dre’Mont Jones is really turning into a fine player here for us,” Meyer said. “Inside guys (on the defensive line), probably Dre’Mont is the most improved.”
Funny enough, Jones wasn’t even aware of these remarks made by his head coach.
“Did he?” Jones said Thursday when asked what he thought of Meyer saying he’s having a good spring. “I didn’t even know that. Cool. Thank you, Coach Meyer.”
The Cleveland native added that his improvement this spring has come from him enhancing the technical aspects of his game and working hard in the weight room.
Joining Jones at defensive tackle for OSU are Malik Barrow, Jashon Cornell, Davon Hamilton, Michael Hill and Tracy Sprinkle, who suffered a season-ending injury in the 2016 opener. Jerron Cage (Cincinnati Winton Woods) and Haskell Garrett (Las Vegas Bishop Gorman) are finishing out their senior years of high school and will join the team in the summer. Joshua Alabi was a defensive tackle last season for the Buckeyes but has since switched to the offensive line.
Larry Johnson, OSU’s defensive line coach, has seen Jones (6-3, 295) reach new heights in more areas than just on the gridiron.
“Just maturity and growing. I mean he’s really grown up a lot,” Johnson said of Jones on Thursday. “He’s locked in. He’s done a great job academic-wise in the classroom. He’s a really smart football player, IQ football is really high. And now just to be able to continue to grow and he’s done that, he’s had a great spring.”
Jones, who will be a third-year sophomore in the fall, played in all 13 games last season, recording 52 tackles with four of them being for a loss.
“First year playing football at our three-technique (meaning Jones lines up on the outside shoulder of one of the opposing offensive guards), great job, great acceleration,” Johnson said of Jones. “Now we’ve got to improve his pass rush as a three-tech. Our three-tech, they get a lot of single blocks so that guy – he’s got to be the guy inside and make our outside guys go. So it’s something we’ve talked about, something we’re working on improving. So far so good.”
Before coming to OSU three years ago, Johnson was an assistant on the Penn State defensive coaching staff from 1996-2013. Given that he now has 20-plus years of college football coaching experience under his belt, Johnson was asked how Jones’ motor compares to other players he's coached.
“He’s close to (former PSU defensive lineman) Tamba Hali, Tamba Hali was like that,” said Johnson, who coached Hali from 2002-05. “He would run all day long and Dre’Mont can run like a running back. He can really – very smooth, transitional player. And he’s in great shape. Dre’Mont is one of the guys who’s in shape all the time because he’s running.”
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