'I'm trying to wreak havoc.' Jack Sawyer relishing his new position for Ohio State
Not long ago, Jack Sawyer would resist even talking about the hybrid position he’s now playing for Ohio State.
The sophomore from Pickerington North High School is an engaging guy, so he did it with a smile. But during the spring and in training camp, he brushed off questions about the jack position – no, it’s not named for him – as if it were a state secret, or at least an Ohio State secret.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said with a coy grin in August. “I don’t know what position you’re talking about.”
Now that Ohio State has played two games with Sawyer manning that defensive end/linebacker position in coordinator Jim Knowles’ defense, there’s no denying it. Instead of lining up in one spot in a three-point stance, Sawyer bounces along the defensive line, seemingly probing for a spot from which to attack.
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Sawyer was recruited as a defensive end and played there last year, but he enjoys his new role.
“When I was growing up and up until my freshman year of high school, I played middle linebacker,” Sawyer said. “I've always been pretty good at flowing, scraping off and making tackles. That feels natural, and I like standing up, so it's been a lot of fun to get back to that a little bit, too.”
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Sawyer has to strike a balance between moving around and creating confusion for the offense and making sure he stays in his gap within the scheme of the defense.
“I’m just trying to wreak havoc,” he said. “Depending on what the play call is, I’m trying to fly around and disrupt stuff in the backfield.”
Sawyer’s stats are modest so far – two tackles, including a shared tackle for loss – but coach Ryan Day is pleased with his start. He pointed out that the defense had only 49 snaps against Notre Dame in the opener.
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“I think he's graded out well,” said Day, “and the more snaps that we get under our belt on defense, the more you're going to see production.
“But he's off to a great start. He had a really good summer, and he's a big part of our defense.”
Jack Sawyer is a Columbus area former 5-star recruit
As a five-star recruit, Sawyer is expected to have that kind of an impact. Being a hometown product adds to the scrutiny. But Sawyer seems unfazed by high expectations.
“I don't really feel any pressure right now,” he said. “I heard a quote one time that said pressure is a privilege, so if anyone feels like I should have pressure, that's kind of a good thing.
“But I'm not worried about pressure. I'm just trying to go out there and play hard and as best as I can every time I step on the field.”
The 6-foot-4 Sawyer has gained around 35 pounds since his arrival on campus in January 2021 and is listed at 267 pounds. As a freshman, he played in all 13 games and had three sacks as part of a defense that often was dysfunctional.
This season, Ohio State has allowed only one touchdown, and the unit looks confident and in sync.
“I like how we play as a unit,” Sawyer said. “I think we're all interconnected each play, and we all know what we're supposed to be doing, so there are no side conversations on why we're doing this or why we're doing that. We're all just locked in, flying around, making plays.”