Jalyn Holmes’ version of paying it forward was more like paying it inside.
The Ohio State defensive end volunteered to play defensive tackle last weekend at Rutgers after starting defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones was sidelined by a deep cut suffered in a freak accident in the locker room.
While Jones was sincere in his offer, he might have been a little surprised how quickly it was accepted by OSU’s coaching staff.
Three days after the offer, he was starting at defensive tackle. He made two tackles against Rutgers in a game where the starters were out of the game by early in the second half, and was graded as a “champion” by OSU’s coaches.
“I feel like I did a good job. I feel like I left a lot of plays out there. At first, I was nervous because I had never done it before and took over the job on Wednesday. So I really only had two days to get myself prepared for it,” Holmes said.
Holmes has played inside on the defensive line in passing situations all year when Ohio State tries to get its best pass rushers on the field. But playing inside on running plays, when defensive tackles get double teamed by offensive linemen, was different for the 270-pound Holmes.
“I called my dad and said, ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do.’ That’s some big boys down there, 600 pounds (on double teams) that you’re dealing with. I just put my faith in God and prepared the best way I could,” Holmes said.
Being a team player and being charitable is what put Holmes in the path of those double teams.
“They really didn’t call on me. I just offered my services. Whatever they need me to do I’ll do it. When I noticed Dre’Mont was down I told them if you need me to do it I’ll be in first thing in the morning just to learn it,” he said.
“I saw Coach J (defensive line coach Larry Johnson) going through it a little bit and I was like, ‘If you need me to do it, I’ll do it.’ I wasn’t playing. I was just saying it to make him feel a little bit better but he took me seriously. The next day I was in there.
“I was just trying to make the situation a little better because Coach Johnson is my man and he was looking kind of down,” Holmes said.
When he realized Johnson had accepted his offer, Holmes said his reaction was “explicit.” “I can’t really say it,” he said, with a smile.
“My first day was like my first day of kindergarten. I don’t know what’s about to happen out here. But that’s when your competitiveness and athleticism kick in.”
Jones is not expected to play this week, which means Holmes will replace him again when Ohio State plays Maryland in Ohio Stadium on Saturday.
He’s ready to volunteer for that again. But when Jones is healthy, he will be just as quick to volunteer to give the job back to him.
“I’m just keeping it hot for Dre’Mont when he comes back. But it’s exciting. It’s not like it’s something I dread. I’m having fun with it,” Holmes said.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.