Dre’Mont Jones

Tim May
[Joshua A. Bickel/Dispatch]

 Ohio State defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones has the goods to play in the NFL. Analysts have been saying that for more than a year.

When Jones opted to return for his junior season rather than bolt for the NFL draft last winter, he had goals in mind, one in particular. It bothered him that he usually wasn’t one of the defensive linemen on the field in passing situations.

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But last week against Oregon State, Jones showed he had made the grade, gaining two of the Buckeyes’ five sacks.

“All I wanted to do is play nickel, man, that’s all I wanted to do,” he said. “I got the opportunity to. I’m going to keep showing my ability.”

Sooner or later, third-year Rutgers coach Chris Ash said he expected as much from Jones, whom he helped recruit to Ohio State in 2015 as the defensive co-coordinator before taking the job with the Scarlet Knights. Now Ash is helping his team prepare to deal with Jones and the aggressive Ohio State defensive front.

“He had an outstanding high school career (in the two seasons he played defensive end at Cleveland St. Ignatius) and he was recruited there for one reason, that’s to go be an elite player,” Ash said.

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Defensive line coach Larry Johnson saw an eventual lithe, gap-slicing defensive tackle in Jones and moved him inside a couple of years ago. The budding started last season. The blooming for the 6-foot-3, 286-pound Jones is going on now.

“I know it has taken him a little bit of time to develop, but from what I’m watching on film right now the kid’s a pretty good player,” Ash said. “I’m sure that’s what everybody thought he would be when he was recruited.

“Everybody goes through a different transition when they get into college. … Dre’Mont, in my opinion, is playing at a high level. He’s an outstanding football player. And I remember the conversations surrounding him during the recruiting process, that’s what everybody thought he could be.”