WEEK 8: Ohio State vs. Northwestern
For Ohio State’s offense, starting left-guard Jonah Jackson and company paved the way for a remarkable 279 yards rushing while surrendering only the one Gaziano sack. A grad transfer from Rutgers, Jackson is a versatile interior blocker who has starting experience at both guard positions as well as center. He’s not only versatile but also athletic, climbing to the second level of defenses and picking up blocks on linebackers and safeties.
Also on offense, after not recording a reception in the first half of the game, wide receiver Austin Mack hauled in all four of his receptions for 50 yards and the touchdown on the drive, showing savvy as a route runner and strong hands to hold onto the ball.
Defensively for the Buckeyes, linebacker Malik Harrison was all over the field while pacing the team with nine total tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss and one QB hurry, showing great range and physicality chasing down ball carriers. Both he and defensive tackle Davon Hamilton make their presences felt versus the run and then have the versatility to also be able to affect the passer.
In the secondary, third-year starting stud corner Damon Arnette seldom surrenders a contested catch while showcasing the short-area quickness and ball skills to make it a no-fly zone his way. The Saint Thomas Aquinas product recorded three tackles on the night while not being tested very often.
Fellow secondary mate Jordan Fuller had another solid game for Ohio State while recording the third-most tackles on the team with five on the night. A three-year starter himself, Fuller is a fluid athlete with good range from the middle of the field along with solid ball skills that he’s continuously put on display. So far in his NCAA career, Fuller has recorded six interceptions and seven pass breakups.
One bright spot for the Wildcats’ defense in the blowout loss was the strong play of senior DE Joe Gaziano, who officially recorded five tackles and one sack while seemingly getting in on many more plays than that. Gaziano is an interesting prospect for NFL teams, as the Scituate, MA native is a physical and productive player who makes plays in both phases of the game while possessing tweener DE/DT size. Pro Day shuttle times, along with the 40-yard dash, will answer some questions as to where to play him at the next level; but one thing’s for sure: Wherever it is, he will outperform expectations.
Down the road in Carbondale, Illinois, I was also able to catch the Southern Illinois/Youngstown State. My primary objective was to get my eyes on stellar safety Jeremy Chinn, who’s been having one heck of a season for the Salukis. Chinn – who was under-recruited coming out of high school – is an impressive athlete with excellent speed, range and physicality as a tackler. What NFL talent evaluators like most about him, however, is the fact that he’s versatile enough to have started games at cornerback and has produced a mesmerizing 11 career interceptions and 28 pass breakups in just 33 games. Against the Penguins on Saturday, he added to his totals while leading the team in tackles (nine) and recording two pass breaks-ups and one bone-crushing hit on the QB.