Regardless of what’s taking place off the football field, preseason camp is moving along for No. 3 Ohio State on the field. After 13 days, including the first full scrimmage on Saturday, insiders told The Dispatch on Monday there have been a few interesting developments defensively.
Several involve players from the Buckeyes’ celebrated 2018 recruiting class.
The freshmen have made their presence felt most on the defensive line, the insiders said. Defensive tackles Tommy Togiai, who enrolled in January, and Taron Vincent, who arrived in June, have impressed from the start of camp.
They also said freshman defensive end Tyreke Smith, also a June arrival, appears to be getting the hang of things quickly in a unit that, headlined by probable starters Nick Bosa and Chase Young along with Jonathan Cooper, needs the depth infusion.
Notable among the exceptions of positions where freshmen are competing is the battle at the safety spot vacated by Damon Webb from last year.
While sophomore Isaiah Pryor continues to be the probable first-day starter, and freshman Josh Proctor has flashed on occasion, the man increasingly on the rise has been third-year sophomore Jahsen Wint. His consistency has risen dramatically from the spring, the insiders agreed, and so has his playmaking.
At the other open spot in the secondary, the cornerback opposite returning starter Damon Arnette, the competition between Jeffrey Okudah and Kendall Sheffield is too close to call, insiders said. But with OSU often employing five defensive backs, both are going to see considerable playing time.
At linebacker, junior Malik Harrison and looks strong and confident at one of the outside spots, while Keandre Jones seems to be in a battle with Pete Werner for No. 1 on the other side.
In the middle, Baron Browning and Justin Hilliard picked up their battle where it left off in the spring as they work to replace returning starter Tuf Borland, still on the mend from the Achilles' tendon injury he suffered in the spring.
Stirring things up a bit in the middle, insiders said, is Teradja Mitchell. Like Togiai, Vincent and several other freshmen, Mitchell has had the black stripe removed from his helmet, signifying he is considered a bona fide contender for playing time.