This story is not about Ohio State’s quarterbacks
The competition between Dwayne Haskins Jr., Joe Burrow and Tate Martell dominated the conversation about OSU’s spring football practice. That competition hasn’t been resolved — not publicly at least — and could continue into preseason camp.
But the spring was about more than just the quarterbacks. What happens at other positions will be at least as important in determining the Buckeyes’ success in 2018.
Here are a few questions that still remain after spring practice:
1. What is the status of the offensive line after the departures of multiyear starters Billy Price and Jamarco Jones at the two most important spots?
The configuration of the line remains a mystery, but that’s not necessarily a negative. Probably the only sure thing is that Michael Jordan, who missed spring practice healing from shoulder surgery, will start at left guard for the third year.
Coaches experimented with moving right tackle Isaiah Prince from right to left tackle, but he was back at his old spot in the spring game and is likely to remain there. That means sophomore Thayer Munford probably will succeed Jones at left tackle. That’s a lot of responsibility for a player with no career starts, but coaches and teammates raved about Munford’s development.
At center, the battle between fifth-year senior Brady Taylor and redshirt freshman Josh Myers will be interesting. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said after the spring game that Myers had earned starting status for now. A few days later, offensive line coach Greg Studrawa said the competition will continue into the fall.
The other position up for grabs is right guard, where Demetrius Knox filled in nicely when Branden Bowen was injured last year. Bowen is still mending so Knox probably has the upper hand for now. The good news for Ohio State is that its backup linemen — particularly Malcolm Pridgeon, Josh Alabi and freshmen such as five-star prospect Nicholas Petit-Frere — provide depth that has been lacking in the Meyer era.
2. Who will emerge as potential playmakers on offense?
We know about the running back tandem of J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber, among the best in the country. And all six primary receivers from last year return.
But others are now trying to earn their chance to get their hands on the ball. Demario McCall was never himself last year after hernia surgery. He is being counted on as a kick returner, and his elusiveness and speed could make him a wild card on offense.
Among the receivers, C.J. Saunders could see an expanded role after an impressive season as a walk-on and Jalyn Harris took strides in the spring, according to Meyer. The biggest question won’t be whether there are enough talented playmakers. It will be whether each deserving player will get enough touches.
3. What is the most pressing question on defense?
Despite several key departures on the line and at linebacker, the Buckeyes are confident in their holdovers and newcomers there. The same goes at cornerback, but not so much at safety opposite Jordan Fuller.
“The field safety is probably our No. 1 concern on our team right now,” Meyer said after the spring game.
Redshirt freshman Isaiah Pryor was considered the front-runner entering the spring and still might be. But he got off to a slow start in March before an uptick late, new safeties coach Alex Grinch said. Jahsen Wint, Amir Riep and Brendon White all will push for the job in camp.
4. What true freshmen are most likely to make an instant impact?
The Buckeyes have stacked banner recruiting classes, and Meyer is eager to see his freshmen play sooner rather than later. There is no shortage of candidates.
Dallas Gant already is in the mix at linebacker and Teradja Mitchell will arrive in June with high expectations. Taron Vincent and Tommy Togiai (along with junior-college transfer Antwuan Jackson) should fortify the defensive line.
Jeremy Ruckert is regarded as a rare receiving threat as a tight end. Running back Antonio Williams’ transfer could open opportunities for early enrollee freshman Master Teague, who already has the body of an upperclassman, and June enrollee Brian Snead. And don’t forget about Westerville’s Jaelen Gill, whose position may be a question but his talent is not.