Ohio State sings "Carmen Ohio" after spring game
Photo: David Jablonski - Staff Writer
Photo: David Jablonski - Staff Writer

Ohio State football: A look at the depth chart after spring football

Nothing is official, but views of practices, comments from coaches and players as well as the spring game give us an idea of how coaches see the roster at this time. 

>>RELATED: Ryan Day on the difference between being head coach and an assistant | What we learned from spring practice

Of course, things can change during the summer and likely will change during preseason, but here is an idea of where things stand at this point in the year: 

Quarterback 

Starter: Justin Fields

Backups: Chris Chugunov, Danny Vanatsky  

Although Fields took the first snaps with the first team in the spring game, head coach Ryan Day did not want to name a winner of the quarterback derby between him and Matthew Baldwin. 

Baldwin opting to transfer made that decision for him and leaves Ohio State uncomfortably thin at the most important position in the game. 

Running back 

Starter: J.K. Dobbins 

Contenders (to back him up): Master Teague, Marcus Crowley, Demario McCall 

While Dobbins is looking forward to being the unquestioned No. 1 back and hoping to return to his 1,400-yard freshman form as a junior, his backup figures to see plenty of time. 

And who will that be? It is too early to tell as Teague has little experience, Crowley has none and McCall missed most of spring with a calf injury. 

This is a battle that figures to go on in August with McCall likely to end up in a hybrid role as a receiving specialist. 

Coach Tony Alford shares perspective on the men competing to back up J.K. Dobbins this spring.

Outside receiver 

Starters: Austin Mack, Binjimen Victor 

Next in: Chris Olave, Jaylen Harris, Garrett Wilson, Ellijah Gardiner, Garyn Praeter

Slot receiver/H: 

Starter: K.J. Hill 

Next in: C.J. Saunders, Jaelen Gill 

Mack, Victor and Hill give coach Brian Hartline three seniors with lots of playing experience to rely on. That trio brings back as much or more production as any receiving group in Ohio State history — including years the Buckeyes returned multiple starters. 

But how will the rotation shake out behind them? 

Six players generally get regular playing time here, but there is room for more. 

Olave also has some game experience to fall back on, but Harris has seemed to be on the verge of breaking out for two years now. 

Wilson and Gill are big-time wild cards here as they are the youngest members of the group but also perhaps the most explosive. 

Tight end 

Starter: Luke Farrell

Next in: Rashod Berry, Jeremy Ruckert, Jake Hausmann 

With a fifth-year senior (Berry), two fourth-year juniors (Farrell and Hausmann) and a sophomore (Ruckert), this is one of the most-experienced groups on the roster. 

They could unlock some new ways for the coaching staff to scheme this fall. 

Ohio State offensive coordinator excited to see what role tight ends can earn in evolving offense

Offensive line 

Starters (L-R): Thayer Munford, Branden Bowen, Josh Myers, Wyatt Davis, TBD 

Contenders for fifth spot: Josh Alabi, Nicholas Petit-Frere, Gavin Cupp, Jonah Jackson

Munford is the only returning starter, but he missed spring practice while recovering from an offseason surgery. 

In his absence, Alabi, Bowen and Petit-Frere battled it out at tackle, and all three appeared to do good things in general. 

Bowen’s versatility figures to pay off when Jackson arrives this summer as a senior grad transfer from Rutgers. While Jackson is strictly an inside player, Bowen can play guard or tackle, so he figures to slide back to tackle if he and Jackson both prove to be among the five best in the view of coach Greg Studrawa. 

Defensive line 

Starters (L-R): Chase Young, Robert Landers, Jashon Cornell, Jonathon Cooper 

Second wave (L-R): Tyreke Smith, Davon Hamilton, Taron Vincent, Tyler Friday

Third wave (L-R): Javontae Jean-Baptiste, Tommy Togiai, Haskell Garrett, Alex Williams

Also in the mix: Zach Harrison, Antwuan Jackson, Jerron Cage, Noah Potter, Zaid Hamdan 

Landers missed almost all of the spring to rest multiple nagging injuries, but coach Larry Johnson was happy with the performance of Hamilton, Vincent, Toga and Jackson at nose tackle. 

Cornell slid inside to the other tackle spot, where the senior appears to be ahead of a slew of talented underclassmen. 

>>RELATED: Ohio State hands out championship rings, gold pants while Michigan assistant fumes

Young and Cooper are returning starters while Smith, Jean-Baptiste, Friday and Williams are all talented members of the class of 2018 looking to carve out a niche this fall. 

Harrison is an early enrollee who showed enough in the spring to think he could jump over all of the second-year players, but that will be easier said than done. 

Ohio State looks to be three deep at all four spots up front.

Linebacker 

Starters: Tuf Borland and Malik Harrison (inside), Pete Werner (Outside/“SAM”)

Contenders: Barron Browning, Teradja Mitchell, Dallas Gant, Ben Schmiesing (inside), K’Vaughn Pope (Outside/“SAM”)

Borland, Harrison and Werner were the starters last season while Browning logged a significant number of snaps. 

With Borland and Browning missing time with injuries, youngsters Mitchell, Gant, Pope and Schmiesing (a walk-on from Piqua) got to show what they can do, and new coach Al Washington had praise for all of them. 

This could be a fluid situation in August. 

New Ohio State linebackers coach talks shop

Bullet

Starter: Brendon White 

Backup: Jahsen Wint 

This is a hybrid position that is new to the Ohio State defense in 2019. 

White and Wint are both safeties who made starts last season and bring a combination of coverage skills and physicality to make the staff think they can handle a spot that is part safety, part linebacker and part pass rusher. 

Spot will be a hybrid between a safety and a linebacker, but that is just the beginning.

Cornerback

Starters: Damon Arnette, Jeffrey Okuda 

Next up: Shaun Wade, Sevyn Banks, Marcus Williamson, Tyreke Johnson 

Arnette and Okuda were part of a three-man rotation last season, and they could benefit from new techniques brought by secondary coach Jeff Hafley. Wade was the fourth cornerback and played extensively in the team’s nickel package a year ago, but he will also see time at safety. 

Ohio State likely could use at least one of the youngsters stepping up in the fall to feel good about depth here. 

Cornerbacks and safeties are learning how the whole defense works in an effort to be more flexible.

Safety 

Starters: Brendon White, Jordan Fuller 

Next up: Shaun Wade, Amir Riep, Isaiah Pryor, Josh Proctor 

Fuller missed the spring after an unidentified surgery, but he is a two-year starter and returning captain. White finished last season as a starter and appears ticketed to playing multiple positions this fall. Wade, too, is expected to have different roles based on which package is in the game. 

>>RELATED: Changes coming to Ohio State secondary this season

Pryor struggled as a first-year starter last season but looked much more confident in the spring and still brings a lot of natural ability. 

Riep, a highly regarded prospect coming out of Cincinnati Colerain three years ago, has primarily been a special-teamer so far in Columbus, but he had a strong spring game and might thrive in a new role for the team’s strong safeties. 

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