FOOTBALL

Jason Moore prepares to be Larry Johnson's next project on Ohio State's defensive line

Colin Gay
The Columbus Dispatch

Jason Moore didn’t think he was at the same level as Chase Young even though the DeMatha Catholic High School defensive lineman was on the same path as the former five-star defensive end and No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft, getting the attention and offers from premier college programs across the country. 

“You are talking about the next great D-lineman, next behind Chase Young, all that hype,” Moore told The Dispatch. “For me, I felt like I wasn’t really on that level. I kind of used that as my motivation and try to get on that same level as Chase and all the other great defensive linemen we have.” 

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Following in the footsteps of Young, and fellow DeMatha stars Cameron Wake and Shane Simmons, Moore, according to DeMatha football coach Bill McGregor, was next in line. He saw unlimited potential in Moore from the moment he first met the defensive end.

“Each year, you could see Jason improving and getting better and getting a little bit stronger, catching up to his body, just becoming who he is right now,” McGregor said. “I still think his future’s in front of him.” 

Larry Johnson sees potential in Jason Moore

Ohio State defensive line coach Larry Johnson also believes in Moore's future, enough to make Moore his next project.

Moore remembers meeting Johnson early in his high school career at DeMatha, but their relationship really started to flourish in January. 

They talked on the phone as much as they could, starting with exchanges about defensive line play and football schemes before growing their connection with conversations about things outside of football. As a result of their deepening trust, Moore committed July 10, joining Will Smith Jr. and, eventually, Kayden McDonald as the Buckeyes' three defensive line commits in the 2023 class.

“We’re from the same area, so it was really easy to relate to each other,” Moore said of Johnson, who started his coaching career at prep schools in Maryland. “And just having that bond, it definitely got really tight.” 

Johnson made it clear he sees the same potential in Moore as McGregor did initially, viewing the lineman’s 6-foot-6, 255-pound frame paired with an ability to stay low and keep leverage at the line of scrimmage along with an aggressiveness and motor that matches what Ohio State expects from its defensive line. 

Ohio State 2023 DL commit Jason Moore said he looks forward to taking on Michigan in Ann Arbor next season.

With Moore, McGregor could do almost anything he wanted to up front. 

“This year, we were able to play him outside as a defensive end, be able to bring him in sometimes as a three-technique inside,” McGregor said. “He’s just so athletic, so quick off the ball, he’s able to cover the back out of the backfield.” 

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Every snap, Moore said, he lined up at a different place on the line, something he could see himself doing at the next level depending on how his body develops.

But Moore believes he can transform into whatever Johnson wants him to be. 

“He can build a lot more things on top of that that would make me the best player I can be,” Moore said. 

That conclusion is based as much on Johnson's track record as Moore's talent.

“Larry had a tremendous reputation for developing defensive linemen,” McGregor said. “I just think it’s a win-win for both situations. One for Jason to develop and grow and learn from one of the best, and, at the same time, be able to play on an incredible stage at Ohio State.” 

Jason Moore is ready to show what he can do at Ohio State

Moore is ready to take the stage at Ohio State. 

While DeMatha does not permit students to enroll early with a college program, Moore is anxious, planning to spend the next semester working to stay in shape ahead of summer workouts. 

If he took anything from Ohio State’s 45-23 loss to Michigan, Moore said it made him more eager to join the Buckeyes and prepare for the 2023 regular-season meeting in Ann Arbor with additional goals of winning at least one national championship. 

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“I’m ready to go right now,” Moore said. “After that game, us coming up short, that just definitely got me even more excited to come in and just be ready to play. I know I got a lot of family that tells me to slow down, focus on high school. ‘You've got to finish out.’ But I know mentally, I’m ready to go right now.” 

If he sounds confident, it's partly because it's a transition Moore has seen play out before. 

Recruit Jason Moore visits Ohio Stadium during the Ohio State, Michigan game.

His brother Justin Moore was a star basketball player at DeMatha before joining Villanova and becoming one of the top guards in the Big East conference. 

McGregor already sees that from Jason Moore, saying the defensive lineman does everything expected of a “fine football player” with the work ethic to make himself elite. 

To McGregor, that mindset combined with what Johnson provides at Ohio State is a good recipe for success. 

“It’s not rocket science,” McGregor said. “You go in, follow anything coach (Ryan) Day asks you to do, do anything coach Johnson asks you to do, you follow it to a tee and do a little bit more, and you’re going to be fine. 

“It’s not real hard if you really want to be good.” 

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