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Ohio State Linebackers Coach Al Washington Supportive Of Dallas Gant, K’Vaughan Pope

Despite their exits from the program, Washington has “nothing but love” for Gant and Pope.

Meeting with the media for the first time since Dallas Gant entered his name into the transfer portal and K’Vaughan Pope was dismissed from the program following his sideline outburst in the win over Akron, Ohio State linebackers coach Al Washington spoke highly of his former players.

“I’ve got nothing but love for those kids,” Washington said during his press conference on Tuesday afternoon. “(I) spent so much time with them and I support them as they go forth and do what they need to do.

“It’s never easy. I completely understand the frustration. Both those two young men are great people and really good players. It is what it is. You have to be supportive and we have to keep moving forward.”

Both Gant and Pope came to Columbus as four-star prospects in the class of 2018 and bided their time for the last three years behind established upperclassmen with hopes of finally starting this fall. It just didn't work out as planned.

A foot injury kept Gant out of spring practice and limited him during fall camp. He then saw just 47 defensive snaps in the first three games of the season before he entered the portal on Sept 22.

Pope, meanwhile, played just 31 defensive snaps heading into the game against the Zips on Sept. 25. He was set to enter the game in the second quarter but was waved off by senior linebacker Teradja Mitchell, at which time he began to walk to the locker room.

After he was escorted back to the sidelines, Pope got into a verbal altercation with Washington. He then removed his jersey and threw his gloves into the stands before head coach Ryan Day pointed him back to the locker room, where he sent an explicit tweet that ultimately led to his dismissal.

“Anytime something like that happens, you do reflect (on what you could have done differently),” Washington said. “K’Vaughan was frustrated, and I get that. I don’t judge him off that. He’s a great kid.

“You absolutely say, ‘What led up to this?” And ultimately, at the end of the day, you look at those things, you apply what you learned from the situation and you keep doing the best you can with the decisions you have to make, and that’s ultimately what you have to do.

“I still have a relationship with him, and I’ve got nothing but love for him. He’s a great kid. He really is.”

With Gant and Pope no longer on the roster and redshirt freshman Mitchell Melton dealing with an undisclosed injury that has sidelined him through the first six games of the season, Ohio State has just six healthy scholarship linebackers on its roster.

That includes Mitchell, fellow senior Palaie Gaoteote, redshirt sophomores Steele Chambers and Tommy Eichenberg, sophomore Cody Simon and true freshman Reid Carrico.

“The depth is always a concern,” Washington said. “But you feel really good about those six, about where they are and where they’re trending. You would obviously like to bolster yourself as much as you can, but to say that I’m concern and worried, I can’t say that.

“Who we have, I feel real strong about. It’s just a daily deal where we have to continue to grind away and improve, and that’s what my mentality has been. I feel very excited about those guys and very excited about the direction they’re headed.”

Washington specifically credited Mitchell – who also waited three years for his time to shine and has played 236 defensive snaps so far this season – for keeping the room together in a moment where it very easily could have unraveled.

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“He’s one of the major contributing factors to how we’re able to stay focused,” Washington said. “He’s an excellent leader, voted team captain and just brings it every day.

“(I’m) very appreciative and proud of Teradja, and how he’s taken everything from my first year here to now. He’s taken everything and tried to use it to his advantage and become more of what he needs to be for the moment. He’s done a great job and he’s a big part of that culture.”

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