The revolving door slows at times, but it never stops in college football, as Tracy Sprinkle and several others on the Ohio State defensive line can attest.

The revolving door slows at times, but it never stops in college football, as Tracy Sprinkle and several others on the Ohio State defensive line can attest.

Gone are three of last year's regular starters from the front four, including both tackles. That's where Sprinkle comes into the picture. He played a lot as a backup, especially as the season progressed, and he, Michael Hill and Donovan Munger stepped up in the Fiesta Bowl when seniors Adolphus Washington (suspension) and Tommy Schutt (injury) weren't available.

>> Follow BuckeyeXtra on Facebook and Twitter

Sprinkle has had a taste of being counted on, but now he's expected to be a regular. He said it demands a different mindset.

"Honestly, it's something I had to change," Sprinkle said. "You have to walk like a player, you have to talk like a player. You've got to do everything like you are that guy. That's something I took, I sacrificed some things in my life, and I feel like I am progressing and doing well."

Defensive line coach Larry Johnson has noticed in spring drills.

Sprinkle was a defensive end when he arrived in 2013, and sometimes those fellows move grudgingly to the inside when that's where the need is. At 6 feet 3 and 290 pounds, Sprinkle looks the part and, more important, he is seizing the opportunity, Johnson said.

"What a great story about a guy who was just kind of finding his way through the program and then, all of a sudden, the light comes on, a change of scenery for him, and he really buys into everything he's doing," Johnson said. "He changed his life a little bit and really became devoted to being a better player."

Sprinkle is not alone. Jashon Cornell and Dre'Mont Jones, who also entered Ohio State as defensive ends, have grown to the size of a tackle and have been moved inside where their quickness can be used.

"That's been a really pleasant surprise, how they've adapted playing inside closer to the ball … and they're working real hard at it," Johnson said. "Davon Hamilton is a guy that's starting to make a push."

It's a new dawn. While Munger is dealing with a medical problem that put him on the sideline this spring, Sprinkle and Hill are leading a group that Sprinkle said will set its own mark.

"We're fast, and we can bring some young guys in who are fast, too," Sprinkle said. "We've all got a chip on our shoulder. … We're a lot of no-name guys, maybe not all-star guys like (Washington) and Joey (Bosa), who were on the line last year. But we're all going out there with something to prove."

Sprinkle has helped set the tone.

"His leadership right now is outstanding," Johnson said. "So I'm one of those guys who's cheering for Tracy to continue to rise because he's got a great testimony when it's all said and done, how he rose and got himself into position where he's fighting for a starting job."

tmay@dispatch.com

@TIM_MAYsports