Ohio State linebacker Dallas Gant out for spring practice with foot injury

Joey Kaufman
Buckeye Xtra
Ohio State linebacker Dallas Gant (19), here wrapping up Michigan State tight end Tyler Hunt in a December game, will miss all of spring football practice because of a foot injury.

Ohio State linebacker Dallas Gant is missing spring football practice because of a foot injury.

Speaking with reporters during a conference call Thursday, Gant did not divulge additional details about the ailment, but said he expects to be healthy by the start of preseason camp in late summer.

“Obviously it's hard,” Gant said. “Spring is the time to develop your skillset and stuff like that, but things happen. You just got to find a different way, (whether) it means watching more film, different types of lifting, focusing on things that I can focus on, developing the way I can even though I can’t practice with my teammates.”

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Gant has been seen as the potential replacement for Tuf Borland, who left Ohio State after the 2020 season having played in 51 career games, mainly as a middle linebacker.

When Borland was among 17 scholarship players out for the Buckeyes’ game at Michigan State on Dec. 5, Gant helped fill in at the position along with Baron Browning.

Appearing in all eight games for the Buckeyes in 2020, Gant finished with 17 tackles, one pass break-up and a forced fumble.

Linebackers coach Al Washington never went as far to project Gant as a starter, but said he had "a lot of confidence in Dallas" and that he would "definitely be in the mix." 

While sidelined this spring, the rising  said he has tried to mentor underclassmen who are less familiar with the team’s defense, including Reid Carrico, one of the 15 freshmen who enrolled a semester early.

“Just watching film, watching practice, trying to help the guys with what I see,” Gant said.

Who will replace Dallas Gant this spring for the Buckeyes?

Washington did not identify who was taking first-team reps in place of Gant, though Tommy Eichenberg, Teradja Mitchell and Cody Simon all saw some snaps at middle linebacker in reserve last season.

The Buckeyes opened spring practice last Friday and held their first padded practice on Wednesday.

All of the linebackers next season will be first-time starters following a wave of senior departures that included Borland, Browning, Justin Hilliard and Pete Werner.

Gant's wait for larger role with Ohio State will continue

Gant joined the Buckeyes in 2018 as a four-star recruit out of Toledo St. John's, so he has some experience in the program, though Washington felt that, like most linebackers, Gant would benefit from extra repetitions this spring.

That’s especially the case after last season’s offseason program was reduced because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don't care if you're the best of the best, you need reps,” Washington said. “You need to participate. It's not good that he's not able to. I wouldn't put it in the good category.  I do think he could have benefited from having had these practices, just like he would have benefited from spring ball last year and preseason camp. But in the same breath, there’s still ways to get better mentally and visualizing what you're doing and understanding what we're asking guys to do at a deeper level, leading.”

Regardless, Gant's wait to take on a larger role at linebacker will continue at least for a few more months.

“You wish Dallas would have had the opportunity for sure, but I don't think it's damaging,” Washington said. “It's just something you have to overcome, and you have to find a way despite that.”

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jkaufman@dispatch.com

@joeyrkaufman