Five standouts from Ohio State football's spring game
Ohio State wrapped up spring practice Saturday with its annual spring game at Ohio Stadium.
The offense was pitted against the defense and prevailed with a 34-26 win.
But more important than the scoreboard, the scrimmage offered some revealing glimpses of a few areas of the Buckeyes’ roster. Here are five players who stood out.
RB Evan Pryor
The top of last season’s depth chart is intact with TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams back in the fold, but could more carries go to Pryor?
The redshirt freshman made a case that the rotation should involve a third back.
Pryor rushed for 62 yards and a touchdown on nine carries and caught four passes for 44 yards. He showed an especially impressive combination of traits on his 22-yard score in the second quarter.
Once he took a handoff from quarterback C.J. Stroud, he burst toward the right sideline and weaved through the Buckeyes’ defense, breaking a handful of tackles before leaping in the air as he crossed into the end zone.
“He can change direction in short areas,” coach Ryan Day said. “He’s good out of the backfield. He can catch the ball. He gives a little wiggle, which is nice. It’s a little bit of a change of pace. If he continues to grow and can hang onto the ball, he’s going to have an impact on this offense.”
TE Joe Royer
In the penultimate week of spring practice, Stroud was asked to identify a potential breakout candidate who has remained under the radar.
Stroud named two players: Kamryn Babb was one, and Royer was the other.
Late in the first quarter, Royer backed up his teammate’s confidence in him when he caught a 24-yard touchdown pass thrown by backup quarterback Kyle McCord.
It was an impressive haul by Royer as he leaped in the air to grab the pass and hung on while being hit by freshman cornerback Jyaire Brown.
Not only did Royer have two receptions for 37 yards, but Gee Scott Jr. had five catches for 40 yards.
“Those guys are developing,” Day said. “They’re putting in the work. We hope that’s a position of strength moving into August.”
DE J.T. Tuimoloau
Because Tuimoloau waited until July before committing and signing with Ohio State, it meant he arrived on campus at least a month later than the rest of his recruiting class.
He acknowledged Saturday that the later arrival made for a more difficult transition.
“I’m not going to lie, I was trying to get my feet on the ground,” Tuimoloau said. “I came so late.”
The dividends of a full offseason at Ohio State appear to be paying off now, though.
Tuimoloau was especially difficult for the Buckeyes’ offensive line to block as he finished with two sacks and two tackles for loss. He and Noah Potter were the only two defensive linemen with multiple sacks.
DE Jack Sawyer
Sawyer appears to be getting first crack at the defensive end-linebacker hybrid position known as the “jack” in new defensive coordinator Jim Knowles’ system.
So Sawyer was featured in a variety of roles throughout the scrimmage. He at times lined up as a traditional defensive end in a three-point stance, while at other times he started out as a standup pass rusher, or he dropped into coverage.
His most impressive highlight came in the second quarter when he spun inside past left tackle Paris Johnson to reach Stroud for a credited sack.
Knowles said Sawyer has been “great” in picking up the position, which was installed midway through spring practice.
“I love the way he plays,” Knowles said. “I love his toughness. And Jack seems to be that kind of kid who will snap back a little. I’m from Philly, so I like that. It’s like, ‘Great, we have a relationship.’”
CB Jordan Hancock
The redshirt freshman made two standout plays in a row late in the second quarter.
On a first-and-10 at the defense's 37-yard line, Hancock broke up a pass thrown by Stroud, and he followed that up by tackling running back Miyan Williams for a loss of 4 yards.
The sequence left the offense in a third-and-long situation that helped set up Sawyer’s sack.
Hancock has the look of the potential No. 3 cornerback for the Buckeyes and saw his share of first-team reps over spring practice in place of Cameron Brown.
His development should inspire some confidence for the staff in case injuries again impact the top of the depth chart in the fall.