There are certainly a few question marks surrounding Ohio State's 2018 roster. The bulk of the offseason discussion has swirled around the quarterback battle, offensive line and the linebacker corps. Each unit has plenty of talent, but there's a lot of inexperience that Urban Meyer and the coaching staff have to overcome.
The linebacker situation was recently dealt with a big blow when it was announced that projected starter Tuf Borland would miss some time with an Achilles injury. Meyer wasn't able to provide a timetable for Borland's return, but he did say that the middle linebacker is expected to return this season.
Obviously it's going to depend on the nature and severity of the injury, but it's probably safe to assume that Borland will miss a significant amount of time. So what was already a bit of a dicey situation is likely now one of the biggest concerns on the entire team.
Though the position is stacked with potential, it's not going to be easy replacing Jerome Baker, Chris Worley and now Tuf Borland for an unknown amount of time.
The options that are currently on campus come with a variety of experience and skill sets. The most talked-about names include juniors Justin Hilliard and Malik Harrison along with sophomores Baron Browning and Pete Werner.
One name that hasn't been talked about too much – at least not yet – won't even arrive on campus until the summer. However, it may be wise that we don't forget about one of Ohio State's most highly touted 2018 signees who just so happens to be a thumper in the middle.
Virginia Beach standout Teradja Mitchell signed with the Buckeyes in December and was considered the No. 2 inside linebacker prospect for the 2018 class. If you're a fan of hard hitters with the prototypical size to play on the inside, then Mitchell's film likely tickles your fancy.
The Buckeyes have signed a number of talented players at the position, but the staff has typically focused on the more athletic prospects and allowed them to develop into the best-suited roles.
Guys like Mitchell – and Raekwon McMillan before him – probably aren't going to move around a lot. They don't have the speed of a Jerome Baker or the pass-rushing skills of a Ryan Shazier. They're big, sturdy players with strong lower bodies and are capable of bringing the wood.
Mitchell was a five-star prospect for much of the recruiting cycle but saw his stock drop a bit when he gained some weight and put up a less than ideal 40 time at one of The Opening regional events last spring. He earned an invite to The Opening finals and went on to shed a few pounds before being named captain at the Under Armour All-American Game.
So would it be a surprise if Mitchell became an instant contributor on defense? Not necessarily a starter, but perhaps a role similar to that of McMillan in 2014?
McMillan spelled senior Curtis Grant, and there were a number of people clamoring for the freshman to see the field more throughout the season. He ended up recording 54 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and one interception despite limited playing time. McMillan then settled into his starting role the following season and was a mainstay on the defense before being drafted in 2017.
Mitchell may have some similarities to the former five-star – especially in terms of size and build – but there are a few things working against him. He didn't enroll early, so that's six months he's missing out on, but physically he appears more than ready for the next level. There's also more talent on the roster now than there was in 2014, so the competition is pretty stiff even if it is unproven.
Urban Meyer has already talked up fellow 2018 signee Dallas Gant and said that he will play as a freshman, but Mitchell was an even more heralded prospect by every recruiting outlet. Unlike the Virginia native, Gant has been on campus since the beginning of the semester.
A lot of the chatter has focused on the early enrollees, but Mitchell's arrival this summer is going to be something to keep an eye on as he looks for his place on a linebacker depth chart that remains very much up for grabs.