Spring football ramps up after spring break and it’s an important one for everyone. After all, the Buckeyes are going to try to defend a College Football Playoff championship.
But for some players, this spring could make or break their collegiate careers. A solid spring of hard work and development and some guys will become starters or major contributors, while others could fade into career backups if they don’t make the leap soon.
Here are five players who will need to make an impact this spring.
Entering his senior year, this is Farris’s last chance to make an impact on the program. And it won’t be easy. He might be the favorite to take over Darryl Baldwin’s right tackle spot, but that position comes with a lot of competition. Youngsters Jamarco Jones, Marcelys Jones and others will be gunning for that job this spring. Ed Warinner will put his best five on the field. If Farris is going to be among that best five, he’s going to have to lay claim to the position and dare others to knock him out of the starting lineup.
Jeff Heuerman’s graduation leaves Nick Vannett as the lone reliable player returning at tight end. Baugh has had trouble adjusting to college life and the responsibilities of playing for a program like Ohio State. Still, he managed to see the field and even score a touchdown last season. It’s time for Baugh to put his considerable talent to work on the field and take the next step in his development, or he risks falling behind younger and possibly hungrier players.
It seems strange to say about a guy who got on the field often as a freshman and started as a sophomore, but this is a big off-season for Wilson. Even before his injury last season, he was starting to lose his position to Jalin Marshall. It will require a bit of a leap in his development just to stay even with the hard-charging Marshall, who really started to come into his own last season.
Dontre has shown flashes of becoming a home run hitter for the Buckeye offense, but his game still needs some polish. How many times has he been one defender from taking a kickoff or a short pass to the house? How many times have we seen him cut left when there were acres of space available for the taking to his right (and vice versa)? If the game slows down for him and he takes that next step, he could become one of the all-time greats. Or he could sit and watch Marshall get more reps. He could go either way.
Bri’onte Dunn and Warren Ball
Both running backs are going to be redshirt juniors in 2015 and they’ll start the season already behind Ezekiel Elliott and Curtis Samuel on the depth chart. But carries will still be available for at least one of these two Ohio products if they can pick up their game.
Elliott will likely get his yards and touchdowns early and hit the bench early in several games this fall and Samuel will be the man to get more reps off the bench. But Samuel doesn’t have the bruising size and power that both Dunn and Ball possess. There will be goal line and short yardage carries available and should one of the first two backs go down with injury one of these two either need to step up or forever remain the bench depth players they’ve been so far.
That’s my five to watch this spring and you can probably add Tommy Schutt to this group for the same reasons listed under Chase Farris. Who do you have for make-or-break time this spring?