A year after Ohio State had one of it’s most veteran-laden rosters since Urban Meyer’s arrival in Columbus, the Buckeyes will now see some young faces at key positions.
We take a look at five players with sophomore or freshman eligibility who will likely be making their highly-anticipated first-team debuts this season.
5. Jeremy Ruckert – TE
Though he isn’t even on campus yet, Jeremy Ruckert could be playing meaningful snaps as a true freshman next season.
Though Luke Farrell emerged as Ohio State’s top tight end option this spring, there still is room in the offense for Ruckert. While Farrell has emerged as a strong blocker, Ruckert is an exceptional athlete and receiving threat and could see action in the passing game.
“It will be interesting, because he’s very talented but very much so in a skill setting, as a big receiver and great in the passing game," Kevin Wilson said of Ruckert. "I think he’ll be in the mix to play early as a receiver.”
The nation’s No. 2 tight end coming out of high school, Ruckert figures to make an immediate impact, even in his first season in Columbus.
4. Thayer Munford – OL
Though he was the second lowest-rated player and the last piece of in the vaunted 2017 class, Thayer Munford will be one of the first to start.
Munford earned Ohio State’s starting left tackle spot this spring despite strong competition from talented and more veteran players like Joshua Alain and Malcolm Pridgeon.
He’s young and has limited experience, but he’s proven he has the talent and will play a vital role this season protecting a first-year starter at quarterback who’s less mobile than previous Buckeye signal callers.
3. Jeffrey Okudah – CB
Though he did play some meaningful snaps last season, particularly in the Cotton Bowl with Denzel Ward’s absence, Jeffrey Okudah is in line for a much larger role in 2018.
With Damon Arnette and Kendall Sheffield as the only two veteran corners on the roster, Okudah is presumably next up to fill in that cornerback rotation.
The nation’s top cornerback coming out of high school, Okudah was one of Urban Meyer’s most hyped recruits since his arrival in Columbus, and now he’ll get a chance to show what he can do.
2. Chase Young – DE
Any other year, Chase Young might have seen significant action as a true freshman, but last year the five-star defensive end found himself buried behind three eventual 2018 NFL Draft picks and possibly the future No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft.
This season, Young will start opposite of Nick Bosa and next to Dre’Mont Jones and Robert Landers on what will likely be one of the most talented defensive lines in the country.
At 6-5, 240 lbs., Young is one of the most physically impressive players on the roster and he already gave Buckeye fans a taste of what’s to come during Ohio State’s spring game. Though he was only officially credited with one sack against the non-contact quarterbacks, Young said if it was a live game, he feels he could have had six or seven.
1. Dwayne Haskins – QB
The most highly-anticipated 2018 debut of any young player belongs to quarterback Dwayne Haskins.
Haskins played in mop-up duty multiple times last season and famously led the Buckeyes to a comeback road victory over rival Michigan, but now this is his team.
Haskins will be Ohio State’s starting quarterback in 2018, with the offense and playcalling catered to his strengths. He’ll get a chance to fully display the strong arm and confidence that we’ve only seen in glimpses up to this point.
For years, we’ve heard of Haskins’ sky-high potential. Now, he has a chance to show it on the field.
This isn’t a complete list. More young players will push for playing time when fall camp begins and even during the season.
The safety position is wide open with Isaiah Pryor, Jahsen Wint, Amir Riep, Brenden White and even Josh Proctor and Marcus Hooker in the mix. Barron Browning and Pete Werner are both second-year players battling for playing time at linebacker. Josh Myers continues to battle for the starting center spot, though Brady Taylor has the edge.
The 2018 Ohio State Buckeyes will have a youthful feel, but they’re also some of the highest-rated players in the country.