A Primer For 2018 Ohio State Spring Football

By Dan Hope on March 6, 2018 at 7:05 am
Dwayne Haskins (7) and Tate Martell (18) during 2017 spring practice.

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.

Ohio State's Spring Schedule
No. Date Media Opportunities

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.

Kevin Wilson
Kevin Wilson is one of three coaches entering their second spring at Ohio State, along with Ryan Day and Bill Davis.

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.

Reading Material

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:

More from our Spring Preview:

Stay tuned with Eleven Warriors for much more coverage throughout spring football as the Buckeyes’ initial preparations for the 2018 season get underway.

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