As has already been stated previously and will many more times before the NFL Draft, Ohio State is set to have more players turn pro early than any other program in college football. That is the case for the second straight season.
Six players from Urban Meyer's 2016 team — Malik Hooker, Gareon Conley, Marshon Lattimore, Raekwon McMillan, Curtis Samuel and Noah Brown left eligibility on the table and declared for the draft before Monday's deadline. Combined with the nine guys that left early after the 2015 season and it is clear Ohio State is exporting talent to the next level at an alarming rate.
There is more attrition to the roster too in the form of graduation and transfers. Reserve offensive linemen Evan Lisle and Kyle Trout both moved on and Torrance Gibson is hoping for a fresh start at Cincinnati under new head coach Luke Fickell. Ohio State endured staff attrition too, with Ed Warinner heading to Minnesota and Tim Beck to Texas. Ryan Day is the new quarterbacks coach while Kevin Wilson is in place as Meyer's offensive coordinator and tight ends coach.
Some key pieces to the Ohio State operation elected to stay in school as well from the last time we took a stab at projecting the depth chart. Defensive end Tyquan Lewis is back, as is quarterback J.T. Barrett, tight end Marcus Baugh and left tackle Jamarco Jones.
LOSSES FROM STARTING LINEUP:
- SENIORS, OFFENSE: C Pat Elflein, WR Corey Smith, H-back Dontre Wilson
- EARLY ENTRANTS, OFFENSE: H-back Curtis Samuel, WR Noah Brown
- RETURNEES: Billy Price, who said he will move to center to fill the void left by Elflein, LT Jamarco Jones, TE Marcus Baugh, QB J.T. Barrett
- SENIORS, DEFENSE: None
- EARLY ENTRANTS, DEFENSE: S Malik Hooker, MLB Raekwon McMillan, CB Gareon Conley, CB Marshon Lattimore
- RETURNEES: DE Sam Hubbard, DE Tyquan Lewis, DE Jalyn Holmes, LB Chris Worley
Lewis's return surprised some, considering he already graduated and started for the last two seasons. His decision wasn't nearly as shocking as Brown's choice to leave Ohio State after his redshirt sophomore season, though he might have his horrific leg injury in mind in addition to the fact the Buckeyes have new offensive minds at the controls.
Ohio State's defense is set to rep a bunch of the same faces it did in 2016, though arguably the most important one is gone with McMillan turning pro. That wasn't a shock, however.
Nine players enrolled at Ohio State for spring semester and a good bit of them are sure to be counted on in the defensive backfield with three of four starters gone. Here is an updated projection of the two-deep.
|LT||74||JAMARCO JONES||6-5||310||SR||DE||6||SAM HUBBARD||6-5||266||JR|
|77||KEVIN FEDER||6-9||305||SO||OR||11||JALYN HOLMES||6-5||274||SR|
|LG||73||MICHAEL JORDAN||6-7||310||SO||DT||86||DRE'MONT JONES||6-3||280||SO|
|78||DEMETRIUS KNOX||6-4||308||JR||OR||93||TRACY SPRINKLE||6-3||293||JR|
|C||54||BILLY PRICE||6-3||315||SR||DT||77||MICHAEL HILL||6-3||305||SR|
|79||BRADY TAYLOR||6-5||300||JR||67||ROBERT LANDERS||6-1||285||SO|
|RG||66||MALCOLM PRIDGEON||6-7||315||JR||DE||59||TYQUAN LEWIS||6-4||266||SR|
|69||MATT BURRELL||6-4||305||SO||97||NICK BOSA||6-4||265||SO|
|RT||57||ISAIAH PRINCE||6-7||310||JR||SLB||35||CHRIS WORLEY||6-2||228||SR|
|76||BRANDEN BOWEN||6-7||315||SO||39||MALIK HARRISON||6-3||228||SO|
|TE||85||MARCUS BAUGH||6-5||258||SR||MLB||33||DANTE BOOKER||6-2||236||JR|
|88||A.J. ALEXANDER||6-2||254||SO||38||JUSTIN HILLIARD||6-1||230||FR|
|WR||21||PARRIS CAMPBELL||6-1||208||JR||WLB||17||JEROME BAKER||6-1||225||JR|
|11||AUSTIN MACK||6-2||215||SO||14||KEANDRE JONES||6-2||218||FR|
|QB||16||J.T. BARRETT||6-2||225||SR||CB||12||DENZEL WARD||5-10||185||JR|
|10||JOE BURROW||6-3||218||SO||28||JOSHUA NORWOOD||5-10||185||SO|
|OR||7||DWAYNE HASKINS||6-3||220||FR||OR||15||WAYNE DAVIS||5-10||185||FR|
|26||ANTONIO WILLIAMS||5-11||210||FR||SAF||34||ERICK SMITH||6-0||203||SR|
|H-B||30||DEMARIO McCALL||5-9||182||SO||SAF||7||DAMON WEBB||5-10||195||SR|
|OR||14||K.J. HILL||6-0||200||SO||4||JORDAN FULLER||6-2||205||FR|
|WR||83||TERRY McLAURIN||6-0||204||JR||CB||3||DAMON ARNETTE||6-0||195||SO|
|9||BINJIMEN VICTOR||6-4||185||SO||29||RODJAY BURNS||6-0||180||SO|
|K||92||SEAN NUERNBERGER||6-1||227||SR||H||91||DRUE CHRISMAN||6-3||200||FR|
|P||91||DRUE CHRISMAN||6-3||200||FR||PR||30||DEMARIO McCALL||5-9||182||SO|
|LS||49||LIAM McCULLOUGH||6-2||228||SO||KR||2||PARRIS CAMPBELL||6-1||208||JR|
Wide receiver and the open spot on the offensive line are the most difficult to project. Who will step in for Noah Brown? Will it be Binjimen Victor, Austin Mack, or a combination of the two? How much does James Clark still figure into the staff's mind at receiver? Zach Smith show last season he likes to rotate players if he has them but will anyone step forward and demand to be on the field more than the others? And what about K.J. Hill — will he need to play on the outside or will he make his mark at H-back?
Up front, one of the guard spots is wide open after Price moved to center. Jones, Prince and Jordan are all back too though among them it looks like Prince is the only one that could be pushed for a job. That is due to the return of Malcolm Pridgeon, who would have figured into the plans in 2016 had he not suffered a knee injury in training camp.
Things changed slightly on defense, partly because Eric Glover-Williams is moving to wide receiver. Jahsen Wint, Jordan Fuller, Erick Smith and the incoming freshmen will all vie for playing time at safety alongside Damon Webb but Smith gets the edge due to his seniority.
With three starting spots up for grabs on the back end, spring practice is going to be crucial for Kerry Coombs and Greg Schiano for their evaluations heading into training camp. But there aren't any members of the 2017 recruiting class included on the depth chart because we haven't seen them work out at Ohio State nor heard what the coaching staff thinks of them. The nine that enrolled early they are presented an opportunity to see their names blip into the conversation with workouts and the start of spring practice.