COLUMBUS, Ohio — With spring practice officially completed, it’s a good time to look at the lineup Ohio State might field in 2018.
The Buckeyes return a lot of talent from last season’s team, which makes parts of the depth chart easy to fill in. However, injuries kept a number of key players from participating in spring practice.
While it’s been nice to see how some players have fared given the opportunity to see more reps, it’s important not to forget the players who beat them out in the first place.
The depth chart is also a reminder of how much talent Ohio State has compiled during the last few recruiting cycles. There are extremely talented players listed in the third-team boxes, and in some cases it seems unfair. But at positions where everyone is a former top-100 recruit, someone has to be third- or fourth-team selections.
Note: Class of 2018 members are included in some cases, and those members are noted in bold.
Projected 2018 Ohio State depth chart, offense
|QB||Dwayne Haskins||Joe Burrow||Tate Martell|
|RB||J.K. Dobbins||Mike Weber||Antonio Williams|
|WR-X||Johnnie Dixon||Terry McLaurin||Jaylen Harris|
|WR-Z||Austin Mack||Binjimen Victor||Kamryn Babb|
|H||Parris Campbell||K.J. Hill||Demario McCall|
|TE||Luke Farrell||Rashod Berry||Jake Hausmann|
|LT||Isaiah Prince||Joshua Alabi||N/A|
|LG||Michael Jordan||Matthew Burrell||Wyatt Davis|
|C||Brady Taylor||Josh Myers||Matthew Jones|
|RG||Branden Bowen||Demetrius Knox||Malcolm Pridgeon|
|RT||Thayer Munford||Nick Petit-Frere||Max Wray|
|K||Sean Nuernberger||Blake Haubeil||N/A|
- It’s certainly possible that Joe Burrow transfers if he doesn’t win the starting job — which I projected to Dwayne Haskins — but such an outcome is purely speculative and unfair to project.
- It’s clear looking at this list how much the Buckeyes bring back on this side of the ball, especially compared to defense. It will be much harder for freshmen to find their way onto the field with so many wide receivers and running backs returning. Nearly twice as many first-year players are on the defensive depth chart compared to offense.
- Though he’s not listed here, I expect Jaelen Gill to find his way onto the field in 2018. But that H-back situation is going to be a crazy battle for snaps with so many quality options. Tight end Jeremy Ruckert also could be a name to watch, but he’s not enrolling early and three other players who have been here for at least two years will have a chance to firm up their spot. I held off on including him when coach Urban Meyer mentioned that he’s seen improvement from Jake Hausmann.
- The offensive line could go about 10 different ways because of the versatility involved. For now, I expect Isaiah Prince to move to left tackle, Branden Bowen to stay at right guard and Brady Taylor to win the starting job at center. But if even one of those things doesn’t happen, it will set off a big chain of events. Bowen is probably the biggest wild card given that he could play guard or tackle but missed spring while recovering from a broken leg.
- Those numerous potential combinations are a result of having so many players who can play anywhere on the interior. The Buckeyes already have moved two guards to center, and it could happen again. And players such as Bowen and Malcolm Pridgeon theoretically could play guard or tackle.
Projected 2018 Ohio State depth chart, defense
|DE||Nick Bosa||Jonathon Cooper||Tyler Friday|
|DE||Chase Young||Jashon Cornell||Tyreke Smith|
|DT||Dre’Mont Jones||Haskell Garrett||Davon Hamilton|
|DT||Robert Landers||Antwuan Jackson||Tommy Togiai|
|SLB||Malik Harrison||Dante Booker||Pete Werner|
|MLB||Tuf Borland||Baron Browning||Justin Hilliard|
|WLB||Keandre Jones||Baron Browning||Dallas Gant|
|CB||Kendall Sheffield||Jeffrey Okudah||Marcus Williamson|
|CB||Damon Arnette||Shaun Wade||Tyreke Johnson|
|S||Jordan Fuller||Jahsen Wint||Josh Proctor|
|S||Isaiah Pryor||Brendon White||Wayne Davis|
|P||Drue Chrisman||Jake Metzer||N/A|
- Ohio State might have the best top-end talent at defensive end in the country, as both Nick Bosa and Chase Young could end up as top-10 picks in the NFL draft down the road. However, one glance at this chart is all that’s needed to see how important it was for Ohio State to land some defensive ends late in the 2018 recruiting cycle. The possibility of moving Jashon Cornell to end helps, but the additions of Tyreke Smith and Tyler Friday give the Buckeyes a much bigger cushion at that spot.
- Chase Young is listed as a starter while Jonathon Cooper isn’t, but I doubt it ends up mattering. The primary three defensive ends are going to play a similar number of snaps. Cornell might be able to make it a four-man rotation if the coaching staff likes what it sees from him at that spot.
- There’s not much separation between the defensive tackles. Even players listed here on the third team wouldn’t be a surprise to earn meaningful playing time. The depth chart might not mean much at this spot if the Buckeyes can find enough players they like and rotate them.
- Linebacker is a weird spot for Ohio State. Tuf Borland is the best middle linebacker but missed spring with an Achilles injury, so this is essentially a projection that he’ll return healthy and as good as ever. Baron Browning can play either spot he’s listed as the second-team choice for, and I believe he’d be the next man in if either of those players exited the game. There’s a ton of variability here, especially with several players who have the ability to play multiple spots.
- There’s an outrageous amount of talent at cornerback. Four of the six cornerbacks listed here were 5-star recruits coming out of high school.
- Looking at all the bold names on defense compared to offense, it’s not hard to tell which side of the ball was hit hardest by attrition. Luckily for Ohio State, the top-end talent is there and the recruiting class features some standouts.