COLUMBUS Ohio State football is set to get back to work Tuesday.
The Buckeyes began spring practice March 7 and held two practices before spring break, using those days to set the table for what head coach Ryan Day hopes will be a productive month leading up to the April 15 spring game.
Here is a look back at five things we learned so far:
1. Who is getting first shot at open spots on the offensive line.
Tegra Tshabola, a redshirt freshman from Lakota West, is expected to compete with third-year Buckeye Zen Michalski for the vacant starting spot at right tackle.
Tshabola was the No. 2 right guard last year season, but Day said he sees a bright future for the youngster.
Left tackle is open, too, but that spot appears to be Josh Fryar’s to lose after he served as the team’s sixth man up front last season.
The picture is less clear at center where redshirt freshman Carson Hinzman and senior transfer Victor Cutler are expected to compete to replace Luke Wypler. Last year’s backup, Jakob James, is out for spring rehabbing an injury.
2. The quarterbacks might look to use their feet more.
Day seemed to concede C.J. Stroud’s magnificent performance in a losing effort against Georgia in the Peach Bowl reiterated the value of having a quarterback who can use his legs to pick up first downs and create clearer passing lanes.
That was already something redshirt freshman Devin Brown is known for, but junior-to-be Kyle McCord said he is looking at adding it to his game, too, as the pair compete to replace Stroud.
3. The “Jack” is taking a backseat to regular defensive line play.
Also known as the Leo upon new defensive coordinator Jim Knowles’ arrival last season, the hybrid front seven spot was the source of much discussion and many stories last spring and into the season.
Knowles acknowledged not being able to use it as much as he expected, though, and conceded trying Jack Sawyer at the position might have hindered his growth as a sophomore.
Sawyer and sophomore-to-be Caden Curry are concentrating more on playing defensive end for coach Larry Johnson this spring while the hybrid position is on the back burner until preseason practice.
Knowles also implied he might be willing to wait to work on the position until Mitchell Melton is fully healthy. Melton impressed at the spot last spring but missed the season after sustaining a serious knee injury in the spring game. Melton is limited this spring but expected to be full-go this summer.
4. C.J. Hicks is being patient.
Ohio State’s top recruit in the 2022 recruiting class is stuck behind veterans Tommy Eichenberg, Steele Chambers and Cody Simon, but he said he is taking it in stride.
Knowles praised his approach to last season and this spring while also saying he could see the multi-talented Hicks as a potential “Jack/Leo”.
5. Newcomers could change the picture in the secondary.
Ohio State’s defensive improvement throughout last season was blunted by big failures in the final two games of the season, and nearly all of that boiled down to just a handful of plays given up by the secondary.
Mississippi transfer cornerback Davison Igbinosun turned heads on the first day of spring practice because he is built more like a safety, and Syracuse transfer Ja’Had Carter is also expected to be in the mix for the vacant nickel back position.
They join a group that includes a handful of veterans, including cornerback Denzel Burke and safeties Lathan Ransom and Josh Proctor plus intriguing sophomore Sonny Styles.
About the Author