A look at how Ohio State's football roster looks for next season and beyond

Joey Kaufman
Ohio State wide receiver C.J. Saunders is hoping to be granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA after a knee injury essentially wiped out his 2019 season. [Joshua A. Bickel/Dispatch]

Ahead of national signing day on Wednesday, the second point on the calendar for major college football programs to sign players for their 2020 recruiting classes, Ohio State is projected to carry 88 scholarship players, three more than the NCAA-mandated roster limit.

The total includes Cameron Martinez, a versatile high school safety from Michigan, and receiver C.J. Saunders, who has petitioned for a sixth season of eligibility after sitting out last season because of a knee injury.

After not signing his letter of intent during the early signing period, Martinez said he will do so this week.

Saunders is awaiting word from the NCAA on his waiver request, according to a person familiar with the matter, though he has been rehabilitating with the team during winter workouts as if he will return.

Teams must reach the 85-scholarship mark by the start of preseason practice in late summer, affording the coaching staff several months for roster management, likely by attrition. Last week, defensive lineman Alex Williams announced he was leaving for Vanderbilt.

The scholarship breakdown follows, sorted by position groups and including committed high school juniors for a snapshot on how the Buckeyes are building their roster for the future.


On the roster: Gunnar Hoak, redshirt senior; Justin Fields, junior; Jack Miller, freshman; C.J. Stroud, freshman

Commit: Kyle McCord (2021)

Notes: After having only three scholarship QBs in 2019, the Buckeyes added depth, bolstered by two incoming freshmen. They will help back up Fields and provide candidates to replace him should he leave for the NFL after his junior season. The Buckeyes must continue to pursue quarterbacks. If Fields does leave, they will be back to three in 2021.


On the roster: Demario McCall, redshirt senior; Marcus Crowley, sophomore; Master Teague, redshirt sophomore; Steele Chambers, redshirt freshman; Miyan Williams, freshman

Commits: None

Notes: Until Miyan Williams flipped his commitment from Iowa State in November, the Buckeyes looked as if they might have only four running backs on scholarship in 2020. J.K. Dobbins had been expected to turn pro after starting for three seasons, making Williams' arrival an important one. It will likely be the only one in the class. Coach Ryan Day said last month that the Buckeyes would “probably not” sign another running back in 2020. “The numbers are pretty tight right now,” he said.


On the roster: C.J. Saunders, redshirt senior; Jaylen Harris, senior; Ellijah Gardiner, redshirt junior; Chris Olave, junior; Kamryn Babb, redshirt sophomore; Jaelen Gill, redshirt sophomore; Jameson Williams, sophomore; Garrett Wilson, sophomore; Mookie Cooper, freshman; Julian Fleming, freshman; Gee Scott Jr., freshman; Jaxon Smith-Njigba, freshman

Commits: Jayden Ballard (2021), Marvin Harrison Jr. (2021)

Notes: The Buckeyes had a veteran-laden group last season with four seniors on scholarship, including regular starters K.J. Hill and Binjimen Victor. If Saunders' waiver request is rejected, they might be down to one. But the freshman quartet is talented. Day said in December that the group made up “probably the strongest class I've seen,” so production might come from younger sources.


On the roster: Luke Farrell, redshirt senior; Jake Hausmann, redshirt senior; Jeremy Ruckert, junior; Cormontae Hamilton, redshirt freshman; Joe Royer, freshman

Commit: Sam Hart (2021)

Notes: It's a deep group again. The lone departure is Rashod Berry, who caught two passes for 20 yards. Royer, a freshman from Cincinnati Elder, was the nation's 11th-ranked tight end in 247Sports' composite rankings.


On the roster: Gavin Cupp, redshirt senior; Thayer Munford, senior; Wyatt Davis, redshirt junior; Josh Myers, redshirt junior; Matthew Jones, redshirt sophomore; Nicholas Petit-Frere, redshirt sophomore; Max Wray, redshirt sophomore; Dawand Jones, sophomore; Harry Miller, sophomore; Enokk Vimahi, sophomore; Ryan Jacoby, redshirt freshman; Josh Fryar, freshman; Jakob James, freshman; Paris Johnson Jr., freshman; Trey Leroux, freshman; Grant Toutant, freshman; Luke Wypler, freshman

Commits: Ben Christman (2021), Donovan Jackson (2021)

Notes: The Buckeyes could start as many as three former five-star recruits on their line in 2020, an embarrassment of riches. The scenario involves Davis remaining at right guard, with Petit-Frere stepping in at right tackle and Miller moving to left guard to replace Jonah Jackson. Petit-Frere nearly beat out the more experienced Branden Bowen for the starting job last August. Miller, a top-ranked center prospect in the 2019 class, is talented enough to push his way into the mix as a starter. Myers is the incumbent center, and he and left tackle Munford were former blue-chip recruits who round out a premier offensive line. Johnson, a five-star recruit, could replace Munford in 2021.


On the roster: Jonathon Cooper, redshirt senior; Antwaun Jackson, redshirt senior; Haskell Garrett, senior; Jerron Cage, redshirt junior; Tyler Friday, junior; Tyreke Smith, junior; Tommy Togiai, junior; Javontae Jean-Baptiste, redshirt sophomore; Taron Vincent, redshirt sophomore; Zach Harrison, sophomore; Jaden McKenzie, redshirt freshman; Noah Potter, redshirt freshman; Jacolbe Cowan, freshman; Ty Hamilton, freshman; Darrion Henry, freshman

Commit: Michael Hall Jr. (2021), Jack Sawyer (2021)

Notes: Six months ago, Ohio State projected to return only a pair of senior linemen. They have three now, including a returning captain. After a sprained ankle bothered Cooper last season, he opted to appear in only four games, qualifying for a redshirt and a return for a fifth season. It adds experience to the unit despite losses of star pass rusher Chase Young, plus valuable interior linemen DaVon Hamilton, Robert Landers and Jashon Cornell.


On the roster: Tuf Borland, redshirt senior; Justin Hilliard, redshirt senior; Baron Browning, senior; Pete Werner, senior; Dallas Gant, junior; Teradja Mitchell, junior; K'Vaughan Pope, junior; Craig Young, sophomore; Tommy Eichenberg, redshirt freshman; Cade Stover, redshirt freshman; Mitchell Melton, freshman; Cody Simon, freshman

Commits: Reid Carrico (2021)

Notes: The lone scholarship linebacker departing is Malik Harrison, the Buckeyes' leading tackler in 2019. Browning opted to return, and Hilliard received a sixth season of eligibility after multiple injuries sidelined him for extended periods of time throughout his college career.


On the roster: Marcus Williamson, senior; Shaun Wade, redshirt junior; Sevyn Banks, junior; Cameron Brown, junior; Amir Riep, junior; Tyreke Johnson, redshirt sophomore; Lejond Cavazos, freshman; Ryan Watts, freshman

Commits: None

Notes: After returning for his fourth season rather than enter the NFL draft, slot corner Wade will move to one of the outside spots that had been manned by Damon Arnette and Jeff Okudah. Wade is the lone returning starter in the secondary, though Brown and Riep saw extended playing time last fall. Among the incoming freshmen, Cavazos also played safety at IMG Academy in Florida but will begin as a cornerback for the Buckeyes.


On the roster: Jahsen Wint, redshirt senior; Josh Proctor, junior; Marcus Hooker, redshirt sophomore; Ronnie Hickman, redshirt freshman; Bryson Shaw, redshirt freshman; Cameron Martinez, freshman; Lathan Ransom, freshman; Kourt Williams, freshman

Commit: Jaylen Johnson (2021)

Notes: Martinez's signing will give the Buckeyes eight scholarship safeties. It's one fewer than last season, perhaps reflective of Day's vision for his defense. He has said his preference is to use a scheme that features a single-high safety, allowing them to be more aggressive with defenders closer to the line of scrimmage. Jordan Fuller handled the role last season. Among returning safeties, Proctor and Hooker played the most in 2019, appearing on the field for 129 snaps and 83 snaps, according to an unofficial tally from Pro Football Focus.


On the roster: Drue Chrisman, redshirt senior; Blake Haubeil, senior

Commits: None

Notes: If kicker Jake Seibert pursues a grayshirt, as he indicated last fall, the Buckeyes will have only two special teamers on scholarship — punter Chrisman and kicker Haubeil. They lose veteran long-snapper Liam McCullough, who had been on scholarship. Beyond 2020, the Buckeyes don't have a committed punter, but Michael O'Shaughnessy, a former preferred walk-on from New Albany, would be on the roster.


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