A little over eight weeks ago, Ohio State was crowned as the first national champion of the College Football Playoff era. On Tuesday morning at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, the Buckeyes officially began the defense of that title with their first spring practice.
The first hour of practice was open to the media and here is some of what I saw:
Braxton Miller Does Some Light Throwing
As the team went through stretching and warm-ups, quarterback Braxton Miller was wearing his black No. 5 jersey and going through stretches with the team.
When it switched into position drills, Miller did not partake in those. Cardale Jones and Stephen Collier took most of those reps, with J.T. Barrett mixed in. Barrett threw a few passes, but was obviously limited in his mobility as he recovers from a broken ankle. He was moving very gingerly with his footwork.
As the open session came to a close, however, Miller resurfaced and was off to the side throwing a few passes. It wasn't anything crazy — 10 to 15 yards, maybe — and most of his throws were lobs. Urban Meyer has said he doesn't anticipate Miller being able to throw fully until May, and it appears he's still on that track as of today.
New Defensive Starters
The Buckeyes have to replace four starters on defense with the departure of Doran Grant, Curtis Grant, MIchael Bennett and Steve Miller.
On Tuesday, the first-team reps to fill Doran Grant's spot went to Gareon Conley. Damon Webb was running with the second team and I did not see Marshon Lattimore out there. Lattimore is still recovering from an injury.
At defensive tackle, senior Tommy Schutt was running with the first team in Bennett's spot and Tyquan Lewis was getting first-team reps at the defensive end position. Jalyn Holmes — who is quite imposing physically — and Sam Hubbard were running with the second unit at defensive end.
Least surprising of all the new starters was Raekwon McMillan was running with the first team at middle linebacker.
One final defensive note: safety Tyvis Powell was practicing with a cast on his right hand.
Michael Thomas was the first wide receiver running through drills, as expected, and Corey Smith was second. The third wide receiver going through drills was Jeff Greene. Jalin Marshall and Johnnie Dixon were doing separate drills, presumably working in the H-back role. Dixon appeared to be full-go and looked very quick and shifty after suffering an injury last year.
With Ezekiel Elliott currently sidelined after wrist surgery, Bri'onte Dunn and Curtis Samuel appeared to be sharing reps as the No. 1 running back. I saw each take snaps alongside Jones as they went through some read-option drills.
Dontre Wilson was on the stationary bike as the team went through stretching and warm-ups, but I did not see him go through any drills.
We'll talk to Meyer after practice concludes and I'll update this piece after we hear from him.