COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohio State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles spoke after the Buckeyes’ sixth spring practice Tuesday about using a “Jack” linebacker this season.
Jack, much like LEO, is a hybrid between defensive end and linebacker that specializes in pass rushing and run stopping. The player should be the size of a defensive end and the mobility and athleticism of a linebacker. But Knowles said he’s making an important distinction between Jack and LEO this spring.
“I told them we’re not going to call it a LEO for now we’re going to call it a Jack because the LEO is the king of the jungle,” Knowles said. “When you become a LEO that’s a big deal.”
Knowles said several Buckeyes got a chance to play the position Tuesday, including Jack Sawyer and Teradja Mitchell.
“I like [Jack Sawyer]. I like him a lot. He’s serious about it,” Knowles said. “The guy who’s impressed me after the move quickly was Mitchell. Mitchell has done a great job for Coach [Larry] Johnson and then we put him in this Jack position and I thought he showed up very well.”
Knowles said other players who are getting a look at Jack include senior defensive end Javontae Jean-Baptiste and senior linebacker Palaie Gaoeote.
Knowles said his implementation of the Jack position started as a run-scheme disruptor and evolved into diagnosing what an offense is doing.
“Once you’ve got the [Jack] moving all around, you got him different places, you see how the offense adjusts to that and their schemes and you can come back with other things and counter in the passing game,” Knowles said. “That player is productive in the pass rush because they develop a mentality of being a wild card who makes plays.”
Knowles added the position is a great recruiting tool for players who don’t fit perfectly into one box of defensive end or linebacker.