With Ohio State spring football only a week away, here is a look at what new head coach Ryan Day will have to work with on offense.
Returning starters: Left tackle Thayer Munford, tight ends Luke Farrell and Rashod Berry, running back J.K. Dobbins, receiver Austin Mack
Rising: Offensive linemen Josh Myers, Wyatt Davis and Josh Alabi, receivers K.J. Hill and Chris Olave and quarterback Matt Baldwin
Returning from injury: Mack, offensive lineman Branden Bowen
Newcomers: quarterback Justin Fields, receiver Garrett Wilson, offensive lineman Ryan Jacoby, running back Marcus Crowley
Others to keep an eye on: Nicholas Petit-Frere, Gavin Cupp, Jeremy Ruckert, Master Teague, Binjimin Victor, Demario McCall, L’Christian “Blue” Smith, Jaelen Gill
All eyes will be on Fields, a transfer from Georgia who arrived in January. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound sophomore was a five-star prospect in 2018 and is seen as a dual-threat player who is expected to replace Dwayne Haskins.
He was the Bulldogs’ backup last season and played 12 games, so he is not completely raw but will need time to get acclimated in Day’s offense and with his new teammates.
Baldwin, a redshirt freshman from Texas, is regarded as a gifted natural thrower who is finally back to full health after a high school knee injury slowed him last season.
>>RELATED: Why Fields chose Ohio State
Myers, a sophomore from Miamisburg, is expected to replace All-American Michael Jordan at center while classmate Davis is penciled in at guard, where he started the last two games of last season after Demetrius Knox suffered a season-ending foot injury.
Myers and Davis were both prized recruits in the class of 2017 who impressed offensive line coach Greg Studrawa with their development in the last month of the regular season.
>>RELATED: Myers preparing for major role in 2019
Bowen spent much of last season recovering from a broken leg that ended his 2017 season prematurely. He was a starter two years ago and brings both talent and experience.
Alabi is a senior who was the No. 3 tackle last season and is the favorite to become a starter this year, but he will have to hold off Petit-Frere, a redshirt freshman who was among the highest-rated recruits in the country a year ago.
Studrawa has said “NPF” has the talent to be a star but needs to add more good weight to his 6-foot-5, 288-pound frame.
Cupp is a fourth-year junior from little Leipsic, Ohio, who is in a unique spot as the only offensive linemen who is not either a projected starter or a freshman. Whether Cupp is pushing the projected starters for a spot or solidifying himself as the line’s sixth man, Ohio State could use a strong spring from him.
The 5-11, 215-pound Teague has the inside track to back up Dobbins, a two-time 1,000-yard back, after Mike Weber decided to enter the NFL draft.
McCall has played running back and receiver at Ohio State and is still trying to find his niche, but his ability in the open field makes getting him on the field a must.
The 6-1, 205-pound Crowley is an early-enrollee who figures to get a good look with the coaching staff generally liking to limit reps for players as experienced as Dobbins, who has run for over 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons at Ohio State.
Hill is already sixth on the Ohio State career receptions list despite technically not being a starter, but he has been a regular in the rotation for two seasons.
Fellow senior Victor was part of the rotation last year and figures to be a candidate to start in his last go ‘round.
Olave broke out during the Michigan game last season with three touchdown catches and a blocked punt. He got his chance after Mack went down with a foot injury.
Smith redshirted last year but finished the season strong, and the former Wayne Warrior has hopes of breaking into the rotation as a redshirt freshman.
Gill was considered one of Ohio’s dynamic talents two years ago at Westerville South and could bring yet another playmaker to the Buckeye offense — if he can emerge from a crowded receivers room.
Despite the plethora of options, Wilson could force his way onto the field with his ability to make contested catches.
Farrell and Berry both saw time as starters last season, but Ruckert is a highly-regarded recruit who impressed in limited opportunities.
Ruckert could press the veterans for playing time or force Day to use more multi-tight end sets.
How this group fits schematically into Day’s offense will also be something to watch as the new head coach has expressed an interest in using tight ends/H-backs as blockers for a more “pro-style” look to his version of the spread offense.
Day will also no doubt want his tight ends to be receiving threats to open up the middle of the field.
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