Spring practice for Ohio State football starts Tuesday morning, and many positions will feature a new look. Among the most curious are the 11 Buckeyes who just finished participating in the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis.
“I’ve kind of got an idea,” linebacker Chris Worley said of successors to him and the other departed Buckeyes. “As you all have seen throughout the years, no position is safe, regardless of how much you’ve played or how well you’ve played.”
Several multiyear starters have departed, including Worley, quarterback J.T. Barrett, center Billy Price, defensive end Tyquan Lewis and safety Damon Webb.
The quarterback battle featuring Dwayne Haskins Jr., Joe Burrow and Tate Martell will command much of the attention.
“I’m not sure whether it’s going to be Dwayne, Joe or Tate,” Barrett said. “Y’all (reporters) are going to follow it at spring practice, so y’all will probably know more than I do.”
Barrett believes the position will be in good hands regardless of who succeeds him.
“They have some great quarterbacks at Ohio State, and they’re going to battle it out,” he said. “The next quarterback is going to do a great job at Ohio State.”
Other than on the offensive line, the other position on offense with uncertainty is at tight end.
Marcus Baugh tabbed Rashod Berry, who saw time earlier in his career as a defensive end, as the favorite to replace him.
“He’s an athletic freak,” Baugh said. “He can play whatever he wants.”
At linebacker, where Worley and Jerome Baker are gone, the competition will be intense. Tuf Borland took over at middle linebacker because of injuries last year and flourished. But the talent pool is deep with candidates such as Baron Browning, Keandre Jones, Pete Werner, Dante Booker, Malik Harrison and Justin Hilliard.
“They all can play great ball, but the guy playing behind me I’m definitely excited for is Keandre,” Baker said.
The defensive line lost several stars, but Sam Hubbard said the unit will be fine.
“The D-line is in great hands,” he said. “They’re in great position to have a great year. With coach (Larry) Johnson leading that room, they’re capable of accomplishing anything.”
Cornerback Denzel Ward said his position also is in good shape with Damon Arnette, Kendall Sheffield and Jeffrey Okudah, and others on the rise.
Webb believes Jordan Fuller is poised to emerge as a star at safety. As for his replacement, Webb mentioned Isaiah Pryor, Jahsen Wint and Wayne Davis.
But he indicated that Pryor has the edge.
“I feel Isaiah Pryor could have played last year, really,” Webb said. “He’s just a freakish athlete. He’s very smart. He can play a lot of man-to-man and he has great range in the post. You all are going to see it next year.”
Next year begins today.
“There’s a position battle every day,” Worley said. “Coach Meyer makes it known during recruiting: You’re not coming here to redshirt. You’re going to come here to play. That’s why we bring you here.”