July 5, 2013

The Replacements: Garrett Goebel

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The start of fall camp is nearly a month away, but the Ohio State football team is already focused on putting together its second consecutive undefeated season. To do that, however, the Buckeyes will be forced to replace some key contributors to their 2012 squad that accumulated a perfect 12-0 record.

In the coming weeks, we'll take a look at the voids that OSU will try to fill, and the candidates who will attempt to do so. Today, we continue with the Buckeyes' nose tackle position.

What they're replacing

Perhaps nobody produced more while receiving less recognition last season than Garrett Goebel, a two-year starter who's main objective was to take up blockers and allow the likes of John Simon and Johnathan Hankins to make big plays and receive all the glory. Now with the St. Louis Rams as an undrafted free agent, Goebel recorded 42 tackles, including four for a loss and one sack, in 2012.

The nose tackle position will never receive attention from fans that defensive ends do, but it nevertheless remains an invaluable piece of any defense. The Ohio State coaching staff will be looking for a great technician to replace Goebel, as well as a player who doesn't mind doing the dirty work in the trenches.

The frontrunner

Throughout spring practice, the player who received a majority of the reps left behind by Goebel was junior Joel Hale. The Greenwood, Ind. native tallied six tackles in 2012, although the position he plays isn't always defined by what shows up on a stat sheet.

Hale made a name for himself this spring as a grinder, and often found himself in scuffles with his own teammates. It's that kind of nastiness that the Buckeyes coaching staff is looking for in its nose tackle, although Hale is far from having a firm hold on a starting spot.

The X-factor

The reason that Hale hasn't locked up a spot in the OSU starting lineup is that his main competition for the nose tackle spot -- sophomore Tommy Schutt -- missed the majority of spring practice with an injury. The 6-foot-2, 303-pounder is expected to be healthy for the start of fall camp, where he'll push Hale for the right to be Goebel's replacement.

A native of Glen Ellyn, Ill., Schutt recorded four tackles in 10 games in his freshman season, while appearing on 85 snaps as a true freshman. Schutt started Ohio State's second game of the season, a win over Central Florida, which saw him play a season-high 21 snaps.

Other candidates:
Chris Carter, Ivon Blackman, Michael Hill, Billy Price.


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