The 2018 edition of the Ohio State football team – the 129th team in school history – is set to hit the practice field for the first time on Tuesday, when the Buckeyes will begin this year’s season of spring football.
Headlined by what should be a three-way quarterback battle between Dwayne Haskins, Joe Burrow and Tate Martell, this year’s spring practice season is as anticipated as ever in Columbus, as seventh-year head coach Urban Meyer will look to bring Ohio State back to the College Football Playoff – after narrowly missing out last season – and into national championship contention.
A look across Ohio State’s roster entering the spring suggests that the Buckeyes have the talent to be one of college football’s best teams once again. The Buckeyes have a roster full of highly touted recruits at every position, along with one of the most accomplished coaching staffs in the country. That said, there are also plenty of questions that the Buckeyes need to find answers to, certainly starting with but not ending with the quarterback battle, as they will also have battles at other crucial positions while trying to enhance their offense, solidify their defense and strengthen their special teams.
It all begins Tuesday, and ends with the spring game on April 14.
Here’s what you need to know – and what you should be reading – about what’s to come between now and then.
Ohio State's spring calendar currently includes 13 scheduled practices and the spring game. The Buckeyes plan to hold media availabilities after nine of those practices and will also open practice to the media for one-hour viewing periods at three of them. Eleven Warriors will be on the scene for every media opportunity, so check the table below to know which dates to expect the latest updates on what’s happening at the Woody Hayes Athletic center.
|1||TUESDAY, MARCH 6||PRACTICE OPEN; URBAN MEYER PRESS CONFERENCE|
|2||THURSDAY, MARCH 8||DEFENSIVE LINE AND WIDE RECEIVER INTERVIEWS|
|3||MONDAY, MARCH 19||PRACTICE OPEN; QUARTERBACK AND SAFETY INTERVIEWS|
|4||WEDNESDAY, MARCH 21||OFFENSIVE LINE AND LINEBACKER INTERVIEWS|
|5||FRIDAY, MARCH 23||NONE SCHEDULED|
|6||MONDAY, MARCH 26||PRACTICE OPEN; URBAN MEYER PRESS CONFERENCE|
|7||WEDNESDAY, MARCH 28||SPECIAL TEAMS AND TIGHT END INTERVIEWS|
|8||MONDAY, APRIL 2||URBAN MEYER PRESS CONFERENCE|
|9||WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4||RUNNING BACK AND CORNERBACK INTERVIEWS|
|10||FRIDAY, APRIL 6||NONE SCHEDULED|
|11||MONDAY, APRIL 9||URBAN MEYER PRESS CONFERENCE|
|12||WEDNESDAY, APRIL 11||NONE SCHEDULED|
|13||FRIDAY, APRIL 13||NONE SCHEDULED|
|14||SATURDAY, APRIL 14||SPRING GAME|
NCAA rules allow teams to hold 15 spring practices, including the spring game, so you can safely assume that Ohio State will hold another practice that is not currently on the schedule – it's presumable that unscheduled practice will be the Buckeyes' annual Student Appreciation Day, which is typically held on a Saturday.
The April 14 spring game, meanwhile, is scheduled to begin at 1:45 p.m. that Saturday at Ohio Stadium. Buckeye greats Ryan Shazier and Malcolm Jenkins will be in attendance as honorary coaches. General admission tickets ($5) and a limited number of reserved club seats ($15) for the game are on sale.
If you want to keep track of who’s who this spring and what numbers they’ll be wearing, you can see Ohio State’s updated official roster in the table below.
|No.||Name||Pos.||Ht.||Wt.||Yr.||Hometown (High School)|
|1||Dixon, Johnnie||WR||5-11||198||RS SR||West Palm Beach, Fla. (Dwyer)|
|2||Dobbins, J.K.||RB||5-10||212||SO||La Grange, Texas (La Grange)|
|2||Young, Chase||DE||6-5||265||SO||Upper Marlboro, Md. (DeMatha Catholic)|
|4||Fuller, Jordan||SAF||6-2||204||JR||Norwood, N.J. (Old Tappan)|
|5||Browning, Baron||LB||6-3||238||SO||Fort Worth, Texas (Kennedale)|
|6||Curtis, Kory||QB||6-3||230||SO||Cape Coral, Fla. (Island Coast)|
|7||Haskins, Dwayne||QB||6-3||218||RS SO||Potomac, Md. (Bullis School)|
|8||Sheffield, Kendall||CB||6-0||193||RS JR||Missouri City, Texas|
|9||Cornell, Jashon||DT||6-3||274||RS JR||St. Paul, Minn. (Cretin-Derham Hall)|
|9||Victor, Binjimen||WR||6-4||200||JR||Pompano Beach, Florida (Coconut Creek)|
|10||Burrow, Joe||QB||6-3||215||RS JR||The Plains, Ohio (Athens)|
|10||Riep, Amir||SAF||5-11||195||SO||Cincinnati (Colerain)|
|11||Mack, Austin||WR||6-2||215||JR||Fort Wayne, Ind. (Bishop Luers)|
|11||Okudah, Jeffrey||CB||6-1||199||SO||Grand Prairie, Texas (South Grand Prairie)|
|12||Baldwin, Matthew||QB||6-3||200||FR||Austin, Texas (Lake Travis)|
|12||Banks, Sevyn||CB||6-1||190||FR||Orlando, Fla. (Jones)|
|13||Johnson, Tyreke||CB||6-1||190||FR||Jacksonville, Fla. (Trinity Christian Academy)|
|14||Hill, K.J.||WR||6-0||198||RS JR||Little Rock, Ark. (North Little Rock)|
|14||Pryor, Isaiah||SAF||6-2||197||SO||Lawrenceville, Ga. (IMG Academy)|
|15||Davis, Wayne||DB||6-0||195||RS SO||Norfolk, Va (Lake Taylor H.S.)|
|15||Harris, Jaylen||WR||6-5||215||SO||Cleveland (Cleveland Heights)|
|16||Jones, Keandre||LB||6-2||228||JR||Olney, Md. (Good Counsel)|
|18||Cooper, Jonathon||DL||6-4||257||JR||Gahanna, Ohio (Lincoln)|
|18||Martell, Tate||QB||5-11||207||RS FR||Las Vegas, Nevada (Bishop Gorman)|
|19||Gant, Dallas||LB||6-3||215||FR||Toledo, Ohio (St. John's Jesuit)|
|19||Metzer, Jake||P||6-2||220||JR||Doylestown, Pa. (Central Bucks West)|
|20||Sinclair, Darryl||WR||5-9||195||SO||Solon, Ohio (Solon)|
|20||Werner, Pete||LB||6-3||235||SO||Indianapolis (Catherdral)|
|21||Campbell, Parris||WR||6-1||208||RS SR||Akron (St. Vincent-St. Mary)|
|21||Williamson, Marcus||CB||5-10||185||SO||Westerville, Ohio (IMG Academy)|
|23||White, De'Shawn||WR||5-9||170||SO||Canton, Ohio (McKinley)|
|23||Wint, Jahsen||SAF||5-10||196||RS SO||Brooklyn, N.Y. (Erasmus Hall)|
|24||Wade, Shaun||CB||6-1||192||RS FR||Jacksonville, Florida (Trinity Christian Academy)|
|25||Weber, Mike||RB||5-10||212||RS JR||Detroit, Mich. (Cass Tech)|
|25||White, Brendon||SAF||6-2||210||SO||Powell, Ohio (Olentangy Liberty)|
|26||Blanton, Michael||SAF||6-1||195||SO||Cincinnati, Ohio|
|26||Williams, Antonio||RB||5-11||210||JR||New London, N.C. (North Stanly)|
|28||DeMaccio, Dominic||K||5-8||180||FR||Columbus, Ohio (DeSales)|
|28||Knight, Jeremiah||RB||5-10||195||SO||Jefferson, Ohio (Jefferson Area)|
|30||Dever, Kevin||SAF||6-0||190||SO||Cleveland, Ohio (St. Edward's)|
|30||McCall, Demario||RB||5-9||193||RS SO||North Ridgeville, Ohio (North Ridgeville H.S.)|
|32||Borland, Tuf||LB||6-1||229||RS SO||Bolingbrook, Ill. (Bolingbrook)|
|33||Booker, Dante||LB||6-3||240||RS SR||Akron (St. Vincent-St. Mary)|
|33||Teague, Master||RB||5-11||215||FR||Murfreesboro, Tenn. (Blackman)|
|34||Rossi, Mitch||RB||6-0||235||SO||Franklin, Tenn. (Franklin)|
|35||Backenstoe, Alex||RB||6-1||233||SR||Hilliard, OH (Davidson)|
|37||Malone, Derrick||TE||6-5||245||SR||Dayton, Ohio (Thurgood Marshall H.S.)|
|38||Beck, Alex||LB||6-2||220||SO||Hudson, Ohio (Hudson)|
|38||Berry, Rashod||TE||6-4||255||RS JR||Lorain, Ohio (Lorain)|
|39||Harrison, Malik||LB||6-3||240||JR||Columbus, Ohio (Walnut Ridge)|
|41||Jester, Hayden||LB||6-1||230||JR||Cincinnati, Ohio (LaSalle)|
|42||Robinson, Bradley||LS||220||JR||Troy, Mich. (Athens)|
|44||McMahon, Amari||RB||6-0||205||JR||Dublin, Ohio (Scioto)|
|46||Arnette, Damon||CB||6-0||195||RS JR||Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (St. Thomas Aquinas)|
|47||Hilliard, Justin||LB||6-1||230||RS JR||Cincinnati, Ohio (St. Xavier)|
|48||Duarte, Tate||TE||245||SR||Poland, Ohio (Poland)|
|49||McCullough, Liam||LS||6-2||228||RS JR||Columbus, Ohio (Worthington Kilbourne)|
|50||Brock, Nathan||OL||6-4||288||JR||Powell, Ohio (Olentangy Liberty)|
|51||Jackson, Antwuan||DT||310||RS SO||Ellenwood, Ga. (Cedar Grove)|
|52||Davis, Wyatt||OL||6-4||315||RS FR||Bellflower, Calif. (St. John Bosco)|
|53||Hamilton, Davon||DT||6-4||310||RS JR||Pickerington, Ohio (Central)|
|54||Jones, Matthew||OL||305||FR||Brooklyn, N.Y. (Erasmus Hall)|
|55||Barrow, Malik||DT||6-2||280||RS SO||Tampa, Fla. (Catholic & IMG Academy)|
|56||Cox, Aaron||DL||6-3||255||FR||Mantua, Ohio (Crestwood)|
|58||Alabi, Joshua||OL||6-5||305||RS JR||Detroit, Mich. (Cass Tech)|
|59||Prince, Isaiah||OL||6-7||310||SR||Greenbelt, Md. (Eleanor Roosevelt)|
|60||Pfenning, Blake||OL||6-5||295||SR||Wapakoneta, Ohio (Wapakoneta)|
|61||Cupp, Gavin||OL||6-4||308||RS SO||Leipsic, Ohio (Leipsic H.S.)|
|62||Pahl, Brandon||OL||6-2||299||SR||Cutler, Ohio (Warren)|
|63||Woidke, Kevin||OL||6-6||300||SR||Cleveland, Ohio (St. Ignatius)|
|65||Thomas, Phillip||LS||6-0||230||JR||Louisville, Ohio (Louisville)|
|66||Pridgeon, Malcolm||OL||6-7||310||RS SR||Central Islip, N.Y (Central Islip H.S.)|
|67||Landers, Robert||DL||6-1||283||RS JR||Dayton, Ohio (Huber Heights Wayne)|
|68||Hamdan, Zaid||DT||5-11||275||FR||Mason, Ohio (Mason)|
|69||Burrell, Matthew||OL||6-3||306||RS JR||Woodbridge, Va. (Hylton)|
|70||Donald, Noah||DL||6-1||275||JR||Uniontown, Ohio (Walsh Jesuit)|
|71||Myers, Josh||OL||6-5||308||RS FR||Miamisburg, Ohio (Miamisburgh)|
|72||Togiai, Tommy||DT||6-2||300||FR||Pocatello, Idaho (Highland)|
|73||Jordan, Michael||OL||6-7||310||JR||Canton, Mich. (Plymouth)|
|74||Wray, Max||OL||6-7||305||FR||Franklin, Tenn. (Franklin)|
|75||Munford, Thayer||OL||6-6||319||SO||Cincinnati, Ohio (Massillon Washington)|
|76||Bowen, Branden||OL||6-7||312||RS JR||Draper, Utah (Corner Canyon)|
|78||Knox, Demetrius||OL||6-4||312||RS SR||Fort Worth, Texas (All Saints Episcopal)|
|79||Taylor, Brady||OL||6-5||302||RS SR||Columbus, Ohio (Bishop Ready)|
|80||Saunders, C.J.||WR||5-11||185||SR||Dublin, Ohio (Coffman H.S)|
|81||Hausmann, Jake||TE||6-4||245||RS SO||Cincinnati, Ohio (Archbishop Moeller)|
|82||Prater, Garyn||WR||6-4||205||SO||Cincinnati, Ohio (Wyoming)|
|83||McLaurin, Terry||WR||6-1||204||RS SR||Indianapolis (Cathedral)|
|84||Davin, Brock||TE||6-3||235||JR||Cincinnati, Ohio (St. Xavier)|
|86||Jones, Dre'Mont||DL||6-3||290||RS JR||Cleveland, Ohio (St. Ignatius)|
|87||Gardiner, Ellijah||WR||6-3||200||RS FR||Kemp, Texas (Kemp)|
|89||Farrell, Luke||TE||6-6||250||RS SO||Perry, Ohio (Perry H.S.)|
|90||Kristan, Bryan||K||6-3||195||SR||Canfield, Ohio (Canfield)|
|91||Chrisman, Drue||P||6-3||215||RS SO||Cincinnati, Ohio (Cincinnati LaSalle H.S.)|
|92||Garrett, Haskell||DL||6-2||293||SO||Las Vegas, Nev. (Bishop Gorman)|
|95||Haubeil, Blake||K||6-4||225||SO||Buffalo, N.Y. (Canisius)|
|96||Nuernberger, Sean||K||6-1||228||RS SR||Buckner, Ky. (Oldham Co.)|
|97||Bosa, Nick||DL||6-4||263||JR||Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (St. Thomas Aquinas)|
|98||Cage, Jerron||DL||6-3||295||RS FR||Cincinnati, OH (Winton Woods)|
In addition to several new walk-ons, Ohio State’s spring roster includes nine scholarship freshmen who are on campus as early enrollees: Matthew Baldwin, Sevyn Banks, Tyreke Johnson, Dallas Gant, Master Teague, Antwuan Jackson, Matthew Jones, Tommy Togiai and Max Wray.
Ohio State's coaching roster will also include some new faces this spring. Former cornebacks coach Kerry Coombs is gone, but Taver Johnson is back at Ohio State in his place, while Alex Grinch is also new on staff as co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach. The Buckeyes also have two new graduate assistants: Keenan Bailey, who was a student intern with the program for the last two years, and Kenny Anunike, a former Duke defensive end who is beginning his coaching career after stints with the NFL's Denver Broncos and New York Jets.
What To Watch For
With only 15 total opportunities to take the field and play football between now and fall camp, you can expect every spring practice to be competitive. For players who are looking to climb the depth chart and earn playing time, every single practice and the spring game could be crucial to their chances of seeing the field, as the coaching staff will certainly begin setting its depth chart and deciding who its key players will be in 2018 in the months that pass before the Buckeyes return to the field in late summer.
There will many words written on this website and every other website that covers Ohio State sports over the next six weeks about the quarterback competition, so we won’t dive any deeper into that in this primer. That said, there will also be many other position battles worth watching this spring.
Ohio State will have two crucial competitions on the offensive line over the next six weeks, as the Buckeyes need to replace Jamarco Jones at left tackle and Billy Price at center. On the defensive side of the ball, a deep group of defensive tackles will battle for playing time while starting spots could be up for grabs at linebacker and safety. There will also be plenty of Buckeyes vying to earn playing time on special teams.
Beyond the players battling for position, and already established starters working on continued development, the spring will also be a crucial time for Ohio State’s coaches to experiment with their schemes and work on improving their units before the games begin this fall.
Offensively, Ryan Day and Kevin Wilson will likely have greater influence – and begin to throw more new wrinkles into the offensive gameplan – as they go into their second season as offensive coordinators. Wide receivers coach Zach Smith will be tasked with getting more out of a group that returns all six of its regular rotation players from last season, while running backs coach Tony Alford and offensive line coach Greg Studrawa will look to build off their units’ strong 2017 campaigns.
Defensively, associate head coach and defensive coordinator Greg Schiano gives the Buckeyes continuity in who will be calling the shots on that side of the ball, and renowned defensive line coach Larry Johnson will continue to lead the unit’s efforts up front. The defensive backs will have all-new coaching, however, as Grinch takes over the safeties and Johnson takes over the cornerbacks. Grinch will likely impart some influence on the defense as a whole, as well, as co-defensive coordinator, while Johnson will work closely with Meyer as special teams coordinator. Linebackers coach Bill Davis, meanwhile, could face the most pressure of any coach going into this spring to elevate the play of his unit after a disappointing 2017.
The next six weeks aren’t going to tell us whether Ohio State is good enough to compete for a national title. They could give us an idea, though, of how things could look different in each phase of the game this season. And while there’s only so much the Buckeyes will want the public to see, there’s little question that taking full advantage of their 15 practices, and fostering development out of each unit over the course of that time, is necessary for Ohio State to ultimately be a contender when the real games begin.
If you’re looking for comprehensive analysis on what to expect from each Ohio State unit this spring, our spring position previews are the place to start, and you can find links to each below:
- Running Backs
- Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
- Offensive Line
- Defensive Line
- Defensive Backs
- Special Teams
More from our Spring Preview:
- 10 Ohio State Players Facing Make-or-Break Opportunities to Earn Playing Time
- Ohio State's Breakout Candidates For 2018
- Early Enrollees Who Could Make An Impact In 2018
Stay tuned with Eleven Warriors for much more coverage throughout spring football as the Buckeyes’ initial preparations for the 2018 season get underway.