Ohio State's Five Most Indispensable Players for the 2018 Football Season

By Chris Lauderback on June 7, 2018 at 11:05 am
Dwayne Haskins and Jordan Fuller must stay healthy and productive for Ohio State in 2018.

Thanks to the recruiting machine assembled by Urban Meyer that only seems to get stronger over time, Ohio State's roster is loaded with blue chip talent. 

Five-stars are backing up four stars in some spots and nearly every position is stacked with backups that could easily make a run at starting gigs for more than half of Big Ten teams. 

Even with all that talent, a host of factors beyond sheer talent play into which players are seemingly more crucial to the cause in 2018 than others. A lack of proven depth and criticality of talent at a given position are just a few additional considerations in determining the truly most indispensable players on this year's squad. 

With that, here are the five players Meyer can least afford to lose if the Buckeyes have designs on making a run at another Big Ten title and a berth in the College Football Playoff. 


While his 2017 numbers including 20 stops and 5.0 TFL don't jump off the page, it should be noted Jones typically came off the field in obvious passing situations in favor of Larry Johnson's rushmen package. 

That won't be the case this fall and with Meyer, who admittedly has a penchant for hyperbole, labeling Jones as "elite" during spring drills, it's fair to expect the redshirt junior to turn in a season that would justify a potential first round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft. 

Dre'mont's talent certainly is a factor in being chosen for this list but the lack of truly proven depth at the 3-tech spot is another. True freshman Tommy Togiai looks like the current backup and probably a half-dozen other guys have a shot at rotational spots along the interior but Jones is a battle tested force who could really bust out and prove too important to lose. 


Crazy how things change. Early in his career Prince was the subject of much ridicule for his inability to hang with the best pass rushers on the schedule but showed tremendous improvement last season. 

Now, Prince is the the lone offensive tackle with any notable experience and unless you have a heavy dose of blind faith in talented but unproven names like newly minted starting left tackle Thayer Munford and Josh Alabi, losing Prince for any extended period of time could be devastating for an offense breaking in a new starting quarterback. 

I toyed with listing starting left guard Michael Jordan on this list but I suppose I do have more faith in Malcolm Pridgeon's ability to step up should Jordan go down. Or Demetrius Knox could even potentially slide over to left guard with Brandon Bowen stepping in at right guard. Coming off a broken leg, Bowen, despite committing to Ohio State as a tackle, might be better off at a guard spot anyway for the time being. 

However things would shake out if Jordan went down, I still see Prince as the most indispensable offensive lineman based on lack of proven depth and the degree of difficulty of the position itself. 

Nick the quick.


Bosa is a game-changer so regardless of depth – more on that in a second – he makes this list. 

Last year he recorded 34 stops, 16.0 TFL, 8.5 sacks and nine quarterback hurries despite playing with a bevy of defensive ends also deserving of snaps. Even with Larry Johnson's stated plan of rotating guys to keep everyone fresh, Bosa should still expect to log more snaps than he did a season ago which is trouble for offensive tackles around the country. 

The Buckeyes do have Chase Young and Jonathon Cooper (shout out, GLHS) ready to take advantage of an elevation in responsibility, along with Jashon Cornell after his position switch and while everyone expects Young and Cooper in particular to do great things, Bosa is a likely top-10 draft pick with a proven ability to change a game. 

Losing him, no matter the depth, would be tough to overcome when you consider how important a dominant defensive line is to being an elite college football team. 


As a first-year starter last season, all Fuller did finish was second on the team in tackles, three shy of becoming only the fifth Buckeye safety in the last 25 years to lead the team in stops. And he missed one full game and parts of two others battling a lower leg injury. 

I know, nobody wants a safety leading the team in tackles but the fact is Fuller was always around the football and did his job virtually all season long (Iowa, not so much) whether the guys in front of him consistently did theirs or not. 

With Damon Webb no longer in the fold, Fuller is now the elder statesman anchoring the last line of a defense and with no clear starter at the field safety spot, he's arguably the second-most indispensable player on the team. 

Isaiah Pryor emerged as the starter opposite Fuller in spring drills but it's hard not to see a situation where guys rotate early in the season in hopes Pryor, Jahsen Wint, or even true freshman Josh Proctor make a bid. For my money, Proctor is the one to watch despite arriving on campus just a few days ago. 


Whether you were driving the Joe Burrow bandwagon before his departure for LSU or preferred the strong-armed Haskins, the reality now is that big No. 7 is the most indispensable player on the roster. 

Haskins did his job in relief of J.T. Barrett against Michigan complete 6-of-7 throws for 94 yards including a huge third down toss to Austin Mack on The Game's decisive scoring drive and completed 70% of his passes for the season with four touchdowns against one pick. 

His cannon should change the playcalling dramatically this fall and depending on your armchair-OC credentials, you're probably more than fine with the notion. Even if you aren't, Burrow's exit means Meyer and company only have Tate Martell to fall back on so running Haskins 15 times a game isn't happening. 

For his part, Martell insists he'll be a factor at least via packaged plays so we'll have to wait and see if/how that unfolds and while the kid is fearless and talented, count me as leery about whether or not Ohio State's offense can generate enough points with him at the helm against tougher foes on the schedule looking to stack the box. 

Sure, Haskins has plenty of proving to do himself but I'll take his physical tools and the small sample size in naming him the most indispensable player on the squad for 2018. 

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