Early Enrollees, Redshirts Gear Up for Spring Ball

By John Brandon on January 10, 2014 at 4:00p
79 Comments

After a disappointing ending to a great season, Ohio State already has next year on their minds. With the start of spring practices only two and a half months away the Buckeyes are eager to get started.

5-star early enrollee Raekwon McMillanCould this guy start for the 2014 Buckeyes?

In particular, seven early enrollees and a whopping 19 players coming off redshirt seasons are ready to prove they belong on the field in crunch time.

While last year's highly-touted freshman class and early enrollees in particular were expected to compete for playing time right away, only one of the six early enrollees saw time at all and 15 of the 23 freshmen redshirted.

This year feels different though. With the exception of Eli Apple and Cam Burrows, none of last year's early enrollees were expected to contribute right away. The 2014 class however, has multiple players capable of competing for a spot in the two-deep, and maybe even start.

While Ohio State does return 13 starters from this past season, a disappointing ending means the two-deep could be much more fluid this spring. There are certainly a few players who will undoubtedly start (see: Miller, Braxton), but the offensive line and defensive backfield position areas are wide open and should be very competitive. The same can be said about the running backs and linebackers, who also lose key starters.

Even the wide receiver position could be wide open despite returning two starters, due to lackluster play in the passing game.

Urban Meyer has always said that starting spots are earned in the spring. Expect the youth movement that began in the Orange Bowl to continue in the spring, and that's where the early enrollees and players fresh off redshirts become a factor. So what young guys could be in line for starting spots or roles in the two-deep? Well I'm glad you asked. 

Quarterbacks

Braxton Miller will be the starting quarterback for Ohio State next year (yeah you're really going out on a limb there, John). But with Kenny G. graduating, the backup quarterback spot is completely up in the air. Cardale Jones saw a little playing time in mop-up duty, then are a pair of relatively unknowns - JT Barrett (redshirt freshman) and Stephen Collier (early enrollee).

Barrett is the real deal, if you follow recruiting you may recall that he was the top ranked dual-threat QB in the country before tearing his ACL during his senior season. During the course of the season I got a chance to see him throw several times after Wednesday practices. He has good arm strength but his accuracy and fundamentals are what stand out. He's a natural thrower with great mechanics and is just smooth throwing the ball. Add in the fact that he runs a 4.6 forty and you'll see why the staff is so excited. For being a dual-threat QB, Barrett is a quarterback first and a runner second - he looks to throw first and throws well on the run. While not the elite runner that Miller is, he will more than get the job done on designed runs. Seeing him work on his passing by himself after practice was a great sign too, he "gets it," and has a great work ethic, something you can't teach.

The other young gun looking to compete for the backup job is Stephen Collier, an early enrollee from Leesburg, Georgia. While a few fans questioned why the staff offered Collier, only a 3-star, he has all the traits to be an excellent QB at Ohio State. Collier is 6-4 and mobile, but like Barrett is a pass-first guy. Also like Barrett, Collier took part in the Elite 11 quarterback competition. The thing that stands out about Collier though is his intelligence - he was offered by Harvard. Braxton Miller coming back should give him an opportunity to learn the college game for a year and compete for the starting job next year. A redshirt is probably in the works for Collier, but as Johnny Manziel, Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota and others have shown, that may not necessarily be a bad thing.

Outlook: Good three-way competition between Jones, Barrett and Collier for backup job in the spring. Barrett ultimately wins the job, Jones is the third-stringer and Collier redshirts.

Running Backs

El Guapo leaves big shoes for the Buckeyes to fill, but with a huge stable of backs to choose from one should emerge. The 2014 recruiting class doesn't have any true running backs committed, though Bri'onte Dunn redshirted last year. After an excellent spring in 2013 and limited action in 2012, many expected Dunn to get a lot of work while Hyde was suspended. This wasn't the case and Dunn ended up redshirting. Despite past rumors of a possible transfer, expect Dunn to be ready to prove something in the spring and hopefully be in line for carries next year.

For right now it's hard to say who will fill in for Carlos Hyde, but Ezekiel Elliott and Rod Smith are probably the best bets, with Warren Ball and Bri'onte Dunn next in line. With none of the backs having much experience it should truly be an open competition.

Outlook: Dunn should get a fresh start this spring with a couple of years under his belt, ready to challenge for playing time. If he buys in to what the coaches tell him, he could have a great spring and should be in line for carries in the fall.

Receivers

With Devin Smith and Evan Spencer returning, Curtis Samuel and Johnnie Dixon enrolling early, and four receivers coming off redshirts,the receiver competitions could be interesting in the spring. Smith and Spencer will probably be given the first opportunity to retain their starting positions, much to the demise of Mike Thomas.

So where do Curtis Samuel and Johnnie Dixon fit in? Samuel will probably be used in a similar role to Dontre Wilson as an H-back - hybrid between a running back and a receiver. I wouldn't be surprised if Samuel really lit it up this spring, he's really a bigger version of Dontre Wilson and might even be faster too. Of the offensive players in the 2014 class, I think Samuel was the most likely to make an impact anyway, but the fact that he's enrolling early should make that even more true. Look for Samuel to compete right away at the slot position this spring and get your popcorn ready for the spring game.

As for Johnnie Dixon, he has a bit of a less obvious role. He's much more of a pure receiver than Samuel or Dontre, though at 5-foot-10 he's probably also going to be playing in the slot. I think Dixon will play a similar role to Philly Brown - working across the middle, option routes and the occasional deep ball. Dixon also has more competition at his position, competing with the likes of James Clark, Jalin Marshall and others for a two-deep position.

This being said, I expect Meyer to play the best receivers regardless of position. Now this is within reason of course, don't expect to have four receivers under the field all under 6 feet tall. However, the majority of the receivers that Meyer has recruited in these three classes are all pretty similar physically - around 6 feet tall and running a 4.5 forty or less. Dixon isn't huge, but he plays bigger than 5-foot-10. Ultimately, I think he redshirts this year due to incredible depth at the position though I do think he will have a nice spring.

What about the redshirted guys? Jalin Marshall, Corey Smith, James Clark and Mike Thomas all redshirted last year and are hungry to get on the field. Smith, Marshall and Thomas are all players Meyer specifically mentioned as guys that stood out in the bowl practices. Meanwhile, James Clark did not redshirt initially and earned some playing time in September before injuring his ankle against Florida A&M. Clark received a medical redshirt and should hopefully be good to go for spring practice. Mike Thomas is probably the best positioned to earn a starting receiver position of these guys for one key reason - size. At 6-3 he's one of the biggest receivers at Ohio State. He earned some playing time as a freshman before redshirting last year but will hopefully build upon his great bowl season this spring.

Outlook: Jalin Marshall, Corey Smith and Mike Thomas will all compete for receiver positions in the spring and should be in the two-deep at the end of spring ball. James Clark's injury status will determine how his spring goes but if healthy he can really play. As for the freshmen, I think Samuel will compete for playing time right away in a similar way that Dontre Wilson did this past year, while Dixon may be more likely to redshirt unless he has a great spring.

Tight Ends

No early enrollee tight ends (likely no freshmen tight ends at all actually), but one freshman returns from a redshirt year - Marcus Baugh. After a rocky start, Marcus finally had his black stripe removed this winter and should be a very valuable player moving forward. With Jeff Heuerman and Nick Vannett returning this season, it will be tough for Baugh to crack the rotation. Still, I expect Baugh to have a strong spring and Ohio State may experiment with finding ways to get him on the field during spring scrimmages. Baugh has elite size and athleticism for a tight end, and is more of the spread/pass-catching tight end that Meyer looks for. Maybe Ohio State will experiment with splitting him out wide (like Michigan has done with Funchess) and working him like a receiver. The one thing the Buckeyes lack at receiver is size and Baugh could provide that in a unique way.

At the very least, Baugh may sit and learn behind Heuerman and Vannett this year before challenging for a starting spot next year. If the Buckeyes try more two TE sets this spring, Baugh would be an interesting option since he is pretty different stylistically from the other two tight ends the Buckeyes have.

Outlook: Baugh pushes for playing time and the coaching staff gets creative with him this spring.

Offensive line

The biggest hole that Ohio State has to fill this off-season is that left by four graduating seniors on the offensive line. Kyle Trout and Marcelys Jones are the two 2014 commits who are enrolling early on the offensive line, while the Buckeyes also bring back three players who redshirted in 2013 - Evan Lisle, Billy Price and Antonio Underwood.

Earning playing time on the offensive line as a freshman is incredibly difficult, but if there was ever a year for it to happen this could be it. Still, Kyle Trout probably isn't going to beat out the likes of Darryl Baldwin, Kyle Dodson, Chase Farris or Tommy Brown for the remaining tackle spot. Realistically, Trout is probably a third-stringer at one of the tackle positions, meaning he will probably redshirt in 2014. However, if Chase Farris remains on the defensive line Trout may battle Evan Lisle for the final spot in the offensive tackle two-deep, meaning he would not redshirt. Certainly a storyline to watch this spring.

At guard, the Buckeyes bring in Marcelys Jones and bring Billy Price and Antonio Underwood back from redshirts. Pat Elflein has probably secured one of the starting guard positions, though the other one is completely up for grabs. Antonio Underwood is a bit of a forgotten man, but could be the other starting guard in 2014. Underwood started one game in 2011 as a true freshman before serving as a backup in 2012. In the spring of 2013 though, Underwood made a real push and was in line to be the second-string left guard before tearing his ACL. According to Meyer, Underwood was "having a heck of a spring." He missed all of 2013 but should be ready for spring practice. If he can pick up where he left off, he will likely be the other starting guard.

Ohio State is certainly thinner at guard than tackle, making Jones' early enrollment even more important. Billy Price will likely be in the two-deep coming out of the spring and Marcelys Jones will have an opportunity to do the same.

Outlook: Antonio Underwood is a starter coming out of spring camp, Billy Price is in the two-deep with Marcelys Jones in the mix for a two-deep spot as well.

Defensive line

The 2014 class does not feature any defensive line early enrollees, but Ohio State does bring back four defensive linemen that redshirted last year. Michael Hill, Tyquan Lewis, Donovon Munger and Tracy Sprinkle were all redshirted as freshmen this past year and will look to compete for time this spring. This being said, the defensive line two-deep is pretty solid right now. Noah Spence, Joey Bosa, Jamal Marcus and Adolphus Washington will all be in the two-deep at defensive end, while Mike Bennett, Joel Hale, Tommy Schutt and Washington will likely secure the defensive tackle positions.

While Mike Vrabel leaving was a huge loss for the defensive line, one positive takeaway is that Urban Meyer will likely get his wish of rotating more bodies on the line now that Vrabel is gone. This likely means that all players that make the two deep should see significant playing time.

Assuming Noah Spence's suspension holds up, the third string defensive ends will see some action early in the season as well, making those battles important in the spring. Tyquan Lewis and Tracy Sprinkle will likely battle with Steve Miller to be third in line at one of the end positions.

At defensive tackle, Hill and Munger will try to beat out the likes of Chris Carter for third string defensive tackle. Tracy Sprinkle will also be in the mix for the defensive tackle battles.

Outlook: Hill, Lewis, Munger and Sprinkle all miss out on two-deep spots but challenge upperclassmen for third-string roles. Overall, Ohio State has incredible depth at defensive line and experiments more with rotating a lot more guys this spring.

Linebacker

Ohio State has one freshman enrolling early and another coming off a redshirt year, and both of these guys are big time players. Raekwon McMillan wants to start from day one and he certainly has a decent shot. Mike Mitchell had an excellent fall camp last year before being redshirted. Both McMillan and Mitchell are middle linebackers, though Mitchell could easily move to outside linebacker which he may be better suited for.

This being said, middle linebacker depth is so thin that they may both go into the season working with the middle linebackers. Eventually, however, I think the Buckeyes would prefer to have McMillan and Mitchell on the field together some time in the future.

The path to making the two-deep out of spring is fairly straightforward for 'Kwon and Mitchell - beat out Joe Burger, the second string walk-on linebacker. Burger is very good and this is no easy task, but it is one that both are certainly capable of. For Mike Mitchell, one way or another he should be in the two-deep by the end of spring - whether it is at weak-side linebacker or middle - and should have a good chance of earning a starting position. Mitchell is just too talented to not at least be in the mix as a starter. He's a freak athlete (4.39 forty at 6-foot-4) and has pretty good instincts as well. He will need to beat out Curtis Grant at MLB or Trey Johnson at WLB.

Raekwon on the other hand is likely locked into playing middle linebacker, meaning he will need to beat out Joe Burger and possibly Mitchell to make the two-deep.

Outlook: I think Mitchell will move to weak-side LB and will at least be in the two-deep, battling with Trey Johnson for the starting WLB position. I think McMillan will beat out Joe Burger to make the two-deep and will challenge Curtis Grant for a starting spot but will be the second-stringer coming out of the spring.

Defensive backs

Ohio State doesn't bring in any early enrolled defensive backs this spring, but four freshmen coming off redshirt seasons are looking to take advantage of three openings due to graduations and the NFL draft. Eli Apple, Gareon Conley, Jayme Thompson and Chris Worley were all very highly thought of upon arriving at Ohio State but due to depth were redshirted last season. For Apple in particular this was a bit surprising, as he enrolled early and had a great spring. Now, with Bradley Roby, C.J. Barnett, Christian Bryant and Pitt Brown leaving there will be plenty of holes for the Buckeyes to fill.

The two starting corner positions will likely be occupied by Doran Grant and Armani Reeves, though Apple, Conley and Cam Burrows will also be competing for a spot. Conley actually made the two-deep as Doran Grant's backup for the B1G championship game despite redshirting, and should hold onto that role for the time being. All this being said, while Grant and Reeves have the upper hand, the cornerback competition this spring should be wide open. There are five talented players and the best will play, period. I am pretty confident Grant will hold onto his starting job but any of the other four guys could start at the other corner and it wouldn't surprise me.

With both starting safeties graduating, Thompson and Worley will have an opportunity to compete for a spot in the safety two-deep this spring. Tyvis Powell and Vonn Bell will likely be the starters and Ron Tanner is in a good position to remain in the two deep, but Thompson and Worley are in the mix. Worley is probably in line to compete for the STAR position or Nickelback, where he might compete with Cam Burrows and could earn some playing time. Burrows played very well at corner this year but might play more of the nickel position to get on the field more. He's a bit thicker than most corners so this could be a nice fit for him.

Outlook: I think Apple and Conley make the two-deep at corner, Thompson is the second-stringer at one of the safety positions and Worley backs up Cam Burrows at the Nickelback position.

Special teams

The Buckeyes final early enrollee is kicker Sean Neurnberger. After hitting a home run with freshman punter Cam Johnston, Ohio State hopes they did the same with Neurnberger. Neurnberger is a composite 3-star and is ranked as the No. 7 kicker in the nation. If you followed our high school football notebooks this year, you may remember some of Sean's highlights from this season: multiple 40+ yard field goals, just missing a 58-yarder (into the wind) and a couple 70+ yard punts.

He certainly has a strong leg and is well-positioned to replace graduating Drew Basil. He will need to beat out walk-on kicker Kyle Clinton to do so, but I expect Neurnberger to be the starter. Between Neurnberger and Johnston, Ohio State is in pretty good shape with their specialists for the next few years.

Additionally on special teams, look for Curtis Samuel to work on kick/punt returning this spring. Ohio State needs to replace Philly Brown (punt returns) and Jordan Hall (kick returns) and has plenty of speed to choose from. Jalin Marshall is also a good option, but do yourself a favor and think about a kick return duo of Curtis Samuel and Dontre Wilson for a few seconds.

Outlook: Neurnberger should be the starting kicker coming out of camp, Curtis Samuel should have a good opportunity to return kicks and I think Jalin Marshall may get a good shot at being the next punt returner this spring.

Overall, the Buckeyes should be a deeper team moving forward. Even their thinner positions like linebacker will have a lot of talented players this coming season. While many of the freshmen will likely redshirt, the guys coming in early may compete for playing time, while many of the guys coming off redshirts are ready to go try and earn a starting job. It should be a great spring and Buckeye fans have plenty to be excited about as these talented recruits are transforming into talented college football players.

79 Comments

Comments

Thomas's picture

Going to be an exciting spring game, that's for sure!

DefendYoungstown's picture

What becomes of Dontre????

What we can't do in the air we'll do on the ground.

John Brandon's picture

He definitely remains a huge part of the offense, his role should grow IMO. Point is they are going to have to find a way to get Samuel touches too

TheBadOwl's picture

I'd love to see some triple options in this offense. The last one I remember us even running was against Miami U in the opener in 2012, and Braxton took it for a touchdown. 

When I walked in this morning and saw the flag was at half mast I thought, "Alright, another bureaucrat ate it." but then I saw it was Li'l Sebastian. Half mast is too high. Show some damn respect.

John Brandon's picture

Yeah, they should really have some good options with all the talented backs we have. If you remember last offseason they kept talking about the diamond pistol backfield... never happened.

What I think happened is the playcallers (primarily Herman, Meyer too though) didn't want to mess with a good thing (Hyde) and it's probably just as well. But with him leaving they'll have to get a little more creative, especially with all the playmakers we have. The other thing is since Braxton will probably not be running as much next year the perimeter running will come more from Dontre and others

Knarcisi's picture

QB takes a lot of hits in the triple option. 

kalabuckzoo's picture

i love watching braxton play but not sure i want him to have to make two reads in the option game.  one seemed to be enough of an issue.

ToetotheFace's picture

Not necessarily true. I remember hearing the Braxton's correct read percentage was much higher for triple option, it isn't exactly as direct of a translation as you think, they are two different types of plays. The read option requires quick recognition of the end and good quick decision making. The triple option is often much slower developing.  

ToledoBuckeye's picture

I am sure Dontre is going to be a great player but nothing he did this year wowed me.  Yes he has speed but he didn't do much as a KR or slot back.  He mostly got the ball on reverses or read options.  He is nowhere near "Percy Harvin" status yet.  I wouldn't be surprised if he got passed by someone like Curtis Samuel.

"Anything easy ain't worth a damn." - Woody Hayes
 

BenArazi4's picture

 
 
Are you blind?  Dontre wowed us all with his very first touch against Buffalo.  Plus Braxton has a hard time getting others the ball and it limits everyone else's touches.

 

 

 

luckynutz's picture

Here's the problem with dontre...there was a kot of hype surrounding coming out of camp. And he's none to shy about his belief in himself either. The expectations were that he would come out blazing and be a difference maker. Then the reality that he is a true freshman hit. He had ball security issues, and showed his age and inexperience. He just plays so fast, and is still adjusting to the speed of the game. He had chances to bust some big plays...but inexperience and youthful exuberance cut him down. Not to mention his size...percy harvin isn't the tallest guy. But he was extremely thick and well built...and with a full offseason with coach mick, dontre should be able fill out his frame and carry more weight whike retaining his explosive athleticism. Once he learns the nuances of the offense and how to set up blocks and be patient, he will be just fine. We allowed the hype to enevelope us and be overly optimistic about what he would bring to the table. Give him time...and the coaches will have him ready to be a big time contributor. He was a true freshman...give hims some slack for that. And be happy with how he contributed.

HotSauceCommittee's picture

Am I wrong, I may be, but didn't Dontre only fumble once and I believe it wasn't for a turnover? 

ABrown07's picture

I like all your outlooks and I agree with them. I didn't realize all those guys got redshirtted last year, awesome knowing we have them ready to go for 2014. This is going to be a good year, I can just feel it.

I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people.
-Woody Hayes

John Brandon's picture

The team feels to be deeper moving forward than it has been in the past, that's for sure

njclebuckeye5's picture

Where do you see Jeff Greene in the receiver mix?

Lobs it to the endzone... Touchdown Devin Smith!!

tussey's picture

I was thinking the same thing and you beat me too it

John Brandon's picture

He's an interesting guy, I've heard lots of good things about him but it's hard to say. He could battle Thomas for an outside receiver spot, the spring will give us an idea of whether or not he's going to compete this year for sure

SilverState's picture

"Samuel really lit it up this spring, he's really a bigger version of Dontre Wilson and might even be faster too"

That's exactly how I described Samuel to a friend of mine this week. Can't wait to see them on the field together.

John Brandon's picture

Besides Kwon, he's the single guy I'm most excited about in this class, kid can flat out play. One longtime New York scout called him the best prospect he'd ever seen iirc

DelaBuck's picture

wohoo i'm excited for buckeye football!!!!
 
O-H!!!!!

Hovenaut's picture

Great look ahead John, sure looks to be an interesting spring.

I am not the Last Dragon, therefore I do not possess the power of the Glow.

kmp10's picture

I cannot imagine Cardale Jones as the quarterback at Ohio State. Sorry... I just can't get over the attitude, and the "we ain't come to play school" tweet. It may very well be shortsighted on my part, but he just isn't the guy I would want leading the team. Barrett? Seems to be the polar opposite of Jones, as does Collier. 

John Brandon's picture

If you look at the QBs that Urban has recruited you'll see what he's looking for: good athleticism yes, but more so they are intelligent, accurate and have a pass-first mentality.

TilstheHun3's picture

Everyone makes mistakes. He has great size and I'm hopeful he continues to develop as a player, student, and athlete. Unfortunately for him, his famous tweet is being used in an Ole Miss book given to freshman:
http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1819804-textbook-uses-cardale-jones-i...
Barrett and Collier look great too... One thing we definitely have learned at tOSU the past two years is that it doesn't hurt to have great depth and a great backup at the QB position.

What is this? A center for ants?!? How can we be expected to teach children to learn how to read if they can't even fit inside the building?
 

John Brandon's picture

Yeah that's pretty funny but you make a good point, and Jones will have a chance to earn the job like everyone else 

rdubs's picture

I also hear reports that he has over a 3.0, so it sounds like he is playing a bit of school.   I can't imagine a college student ever feeling like they didn't want to go to class.

AltaBuck's picture

I have a feeling that the WR battle will be wide open. There will be less of a premium on run blocking ability versus play making since Hyde has moved on and urban wants to keep Braxton heathly. The offense needs receivers that can get open.

I have been known on occasion to howl at the moon. - Crash Davis

John Brandon's picture

Great point. Spencer primarily played for his blocking for example, but yeah I think the lackluster passing will cause them to make it more of an open competition. Also, Braxton simply won't run as much next year without a proven backup, but perimeter blocking will still be important as guys like Dontre and Samuel take on bigger roles

Norwalk's picture

I expect Brax will not allow himself to be used as a run 1st QB next year. He expected to be a 3 year guy when he came here and I believe he has to be disappointed at his likely draft position if he had chosen to come out early. I'm glad he had the sense to stay another year to work on his passing game but I don't think we'll see him used the same way next year, especuially with all the other high speed, play making,weapons he will have around him.

John Brandon's picture

We see him getting down to avoid hits now but I think he takes it to another level next year to avoid getting hurt. The coaches want him to stay healthy because the backup situation isn't concrete and Braxton wants to stay healthy for the NFL so I don't expect many runs

jaxbuckeye's picture

Not much love for Rod Smith.  I look for him to have a big year.  Being a senior he should look like a men playing amongst boys.
 
BTW, for those of you constantly bringing up the fumbles, you need to go back and look at some of his good runs too.  There were some REALLY amazing runs.  Maurice and Eddie both had fumbling problems to start their careers.

John Brandon's picture

Personally, I think he's the most talented back on the team along with Zeke. He'll get a chance to seize the position but it will probably come down to him and EE, wide open though. I also think we may see more RB by committee next year to take advantage of is many fresh backs 

FLAMikey's picture

JAXBUCKEYE, you beat me to it...

saltybuck61's picture

Great point. Many great backs have fumbling issues to start their career. I am pretty sure that Archie himself even fumbled on his very first carry.

GH_Lindsey's picture

Amen. He's got size and power with good speed and he seems like a violent runner. I mean just look at this run.

TilstheHun3's picture

Wow, I am so pumped for next season... We are stacked.

What is this? A center for ants?!? How can we be expected to teach children to learn how to read if they can't even fit inside the building?
 

FLAMikey's picture

I'm a little surprised that more isn't being expected next year from Rod Smith. If you've seen him up close, he's a big boy and runs with authority. If he's past his fumbling problems he seems to have all the tools to be an elite RB in much the same mold as Hyde.

John Brandon's picture

Definitely, this article was more focused on the youth but he should get first crack at the starting job in my opinion 

dubjayfootball90's picture

Damnit!!! Footbaw!!! NOW!!!

You can feed a bobcat all the chili it wants. That don't mean it's going to crap out diamonds.

buckeyeEddie27's picture

With all the guys coming off redshirt years and the badd ass class Urban is putting together, it's like we have a 40 man class of pure studs coming in.  Me likey.

I know there's a game Saturday, and my ass will be there.

John Brandon's picture

Yeah the talent level of this team moving forward top to bottom is ridiculous 

osubuck57's picture

Linebacker and Secondary battles are the ones I'm most excited for this upcoming spring.

SCOTTC.

tosubuckeye's picture

Great read as always. I feel great about JT, who I believe will be our best passing qb, since Mike Tomczak, and that's saying alot.  Young man is poised and accurate. Hope he can maintain these attributes under a BIG rush.  I'm looking for Jeff Greene, Mike Thomas, and Johnny Dixon to (perhaps) supplant Devin and Evan as starters.  The latter 2 have proven their mettle as blockers, but are "challenged" as "complete" receivers. Greene was a solid starter at GA Tech. Dixon might be the best of them all.  We all know he played in Fla's highest classification as a prep. He understands route running and getting open, something that Devin and Evan still need assistance doing.  Devin will undoubtedly go down as one of our best ever deep threats.  But, we all know that a receiver has to be able to run all the routes to be successful and give the team its best chance to win. Excited about the wide-outs for 2014!!!! GO BUCKS!!!!

tosubuckeye
 

John Brandon's picture

Dixon is absolutely a beast and I really think he has the talent to contribute soon, but with a couple starters coming back and reports that Mike Thomas, Jalin Marshall and Corey Smith are really standing out and have more experience under their belt I really don't see Dixon doing much this year, but not because he isn't capable.

Greene is the wildcard, could be the missing "big receiver" we're missing. One thing's for sure, with all the talent we have, assuming the best guys play, the guys on the field should be pretty darn good

dubjayfootball90's picture

Really makes me happy to hear (read) that. The future is bright, indeed.

You can feed a bobcat all the chili it wants. That don't mean it's going to crap out diamonds.

Buckabroad's picture

This was an especially good article, JOHN. Thank you! I agree with your assessment that Kwon and Mitchell on the field at the same time sounds incredible, just as having Wilson and Samuel return kicks at the same time.
Look forward to seeing our Buckeyes develop further this year. Should be fun.

"The minute we stop expecting greatness, we become Wisconsin."

John Brandon's picture

Yeah it's pretty scary thinking about Dontre and Samuel together. Remember Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey together at Florida?

WhySoSerious's picture

What about Noah Brown?

Rare&Uncommon

Like the ball in the stands, we balls out

John Brandon's picture

Focusing on the early enrollees and guys coming back from redshirts for the sake of previewing spring ball, but here's my take on Brown:

The staff could use him in a variety of ways, he's big so he could be an outside receiver. He played running back in HS too so he could be another h-back guys and they could line him up in the backfield. I think he probably redshirts due to arriving in the summer and the depth ahead of him but he might contribute on special teams if they decide not to redshirt him.

Wesleyburgess1's picture

I don't think anyone has mentioned Terry Mclaurin or Parris Campbell either. Fast as hell, athletic...did I say fast? Cant wait for these next couple years. hopefully we get the position coaches on defense we need and they are real creative. Im rr ally excited to see Jamaal Marcus out there more too. Hes a freaking animal.

sharks's picture

Jesus Jumped Up Christ this is the first time it has actually hit me - there is just a ton of talent at every spot- only LB still looks like we could use some depth.  Grant's going to have to run the show next year.
Its too bad that St V's doesn't let their kids graduate early- I'd feel even better with Booker in the LB mix.

The postgame show is brought to you by... Christ, I can't find it. The hell with it...

John Brandon's picture

Yeah Booker is going to be sweet. Grant and Perry are good but I can't wait until we have 'Kwon, Mitchell, Booker, Trey Johnson (or some combination) on the field together, so much talent.

sfgoody's picture

Agreed, but I would add that I think people are really underselling Berger, probably because he got hurt and we didn't hear much from him. He has SPECIAL instincts imo. Depending on how we redshirt guys this year LB depth could be fixed for years to come

sfgoods

John Brandon's picture

Yeah he was a high school Butkus finalist. Phenomenal player but a bit forgotten by many. But we shouldn't have any LB depth issues for a few years unless disaster strikes

Statutoryglory's picture

I really think a Glenville Star depth chart could be possible with Worley and Lattimore.  Worley is a TFL machine despite his up and down recruiting ratings.  He blows stuff up in the backfield.

John Brandon's picture

Worley is going to be an excellent player imo, Star is the perfect position for him too

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater's picture

Great write up John.   But depresses me that we have 8 months of no OSU football games
One question - who is taking over at center next year??

John Brandon's picture

Almost certainly Jacoby Boren

Jeremy Birmingham's picture

Boren is the leader in the clubhouse, but don't be surprised if Billy Price wins out. Price is learning the position, but Boren's size could be an issue.

Ethos's picture

I'm excited about the offensive athletes, but the offense isn't what worries me. 

"What do you need water for, Sunshine?!" - Coach Coombs, if you don't love this man, you have no soul.

Bingocat's picture

Just in case you didn't know Billy Price plays Center and plays Guard on scout team this year. Looking forward to this young man play in the spring game ! Our Buckeyes will be fine next year,we as fans gotta remember they are replacing alot of good ball players ! Go Buckeyes !

John Brandon's picture

I think he'll be the second stringer at guard and maybe center too. Kind of a jack of all trades that should add flexibility 

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Great article John!  Really appreciate the in-depth analysis at each of the position groups.  It does make me feel a little better about what we have going into next season.  I think we'll be right in the thick of it again!
Go Bucks!!

seafus26's picture

Any thoughts of putting some of this supreme athleticism like Samuel on D? We maybe better served to have best athletes on D and rely more on scheme and rules favoring offensive players. But it wouldn't be like the O would be lacking athletes

Go Bucks and michigan STILL SUCKS!

703Buckeye's picture

I think Mr. Lattimore has your back on D.

"Attack the Strong, Trample the Weak, Hurdle the Dead!"
-Former OSU S&C Coach Lichter

BuckeyesMJ's picture

If Braxton doesn't plan on running much next year then he for sure needs to work on his reads and making quicker decisions. That is one area where I thought KG was superior. You gotta be able to read that defense and know where you wanna go with the football....quickly! Maybe work on that "touch" a lil as well. Everything doesn't have to be a rocket all the time. Tons of young talent in the cupboards! Can't wait for the spring game. Many spots open!

Go Bucks!

KevinJ's picture

Late to the party and wanted to ask what's going on with Darron Lee? Didn't see him mentioned unless I missed it. Lots of info thank you for the write up.

Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

I'm thinking our defense next year could be loaded with juniors and sophomores.  
DB:  Burrows, Bell, Grant, Powell
3 LB Set:  Mitchell, Johnson, McMillan  (I don't think C. Grant holds off Kwon, and I think they find a way to play both Johnson/Mitchell in a 3 LB set.  Also, Josh Perry is SOOO SLOW!)
DL:  Bosa, Schutt, Bennett, Marcus (Spence when his suspension is over even tho I think Marcus is quicker and more athletic than he is)
 
I'd be fine with struggling early to get our younger, more athletic defensive players some playing time.  

ScarletNGrey01's picture

Wow, talk about some in-depth knowledge of the personnel, very informative.  As far as the starting RB goes, from what I've seen of EZE it's no contest, but again, I don't have a handle on all the guys and what's going on like the 11W staff.  Looks like the bucks should be very competitive.  I think we now have two T'sUN we have to circle on our calendar, as always we MUST beat you-know-who but also some big time payback against MSU is required, who should be very formidable next season.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

Tjames43's picture

Great write up John, but I think another canidate early for the Star position could be Erick Smith, and Im sure some of the Freshmen CBs will get a crack at the starting spot (Webb, lattimore) but I think that Gareon Conley gets the spot opposite of Grant.

buckeyeboy31's picture

John, I noticed no mention of Darron Lee in your article....did he redshirt this past year?  Does he project at LB or DB?

ToTheHouse's picture

The ''two'' KEY pieces in all this is ''who'' Erb hires for Whit, & Vrabes !_! Bama n *ichigan did their homework...so did PSU. Its just this simple: T.E.A.M. = together each accomplish's MORE!

osubuckeye4life's picture

I just ran through a brick wall. SO PUMPED FOR NEXT SEASON!!!!!

Buckeye_Chief's picture

I know its been said but I'm really excited to see how Greene does but the main man I want to see at full game speed is Mitchell...The mans highlights are insane. 

216ToThe614's picture

I agree with most of the things you mentioned John, but why no mention of Devon Bogard or Najee Murray? Both are players I would like to think would push for time at least at STAR, if not making a big impact on special teams.
Also, I don't know about the rest of you but I am blown away by Demetrious Knox at this stage and I believe he is college ready, and honestly is my pick to win the right guard spot opposite of Elflein. 
I know you were focusing on redshirted players and early enrollees on top of what we have returning, but what is your take on Meechy as a starter next year 11w staff? And the other two DB's I mentioned?

Pick up your feet, turn your corners square! And DRIVE DRIVE DRIVE!!!
WB

vtbuckeye's picture

Bogard was switched to LB and had a knee injury this season. 
 
Najee left the program .  He is at Kent State.  I don't think that he will be pushing for playing time at tOSU anytime soon.

John Brandon's picture

Murray is at Kent State and Bogard is injured. Don't think Meech will get playing time coming in with the rest of the freshmen, might make the two-deep

216ToThe614's picture

Ok thanks John! I didn't know Murray had transferred, guess I just missed that one

Pick up your feet, turn your corners square! And DRIVE DRIVE DRIVE!!!
WB