Ohio State is loaded with talent once again this season, but much of it is unproven.
The Buckeyes signed their two highest-rated recruiting classes of the modern era in 2017 and 2018, and with those players entering their second and third seasons respectively, it’s their time to make an impact – in many cases, for the first time.
Here are 10 players who will be stepping into larger roles with the team and seem poised for breakout seasons in 2019.
Wyatt Davis – Offensive Line – Redshirt Sophomore
After a redshirt year and a season as the team's first interior lineman off the bench, it's now Wyatt Davis' time to shine as Ohio State's starting right guard.
A five-star prospect out of high school, Davis has shown obvious potential since his arrival on campus in 2017, but he never saw meaningful action until starting guard Demetrius Knox suffered a season-ending leg injury in the final drive of Ohio State's win over Michigan last season.
Davis filled in nicely for Knox in Ohio State's two postseason victories over Northwestern and Washington and looks like a primed for a breakout year in his first season as a starter.
Justin Fields – Quarterback – Sophomore
Perhaps the most obvious addition to this list. If Justin Fields isn't a breakout player in 2019, that's disastrous news for the Buckeyes.
Though still not technically named the starter, Fields is expected to take over for Dwayne Haskins this season, and he brings with him plenty of hype.
The five-star quarterback is the highest-rated player to sign with Ohio State in the recruiting rankings era, bringing enormous potential with both his arm and his ability as a runner. Fields was the second-highest-rated player in the 2018 class, behind only Clemson's Trevor Lawrence by a razor-thin margin.
The Georgia transfer did not play extensively with the Bulldogs, but completed 69.2 percent of his passes for 328 yards and four touchdowns along with 266 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.
Jaelen Gill – H-Back – Redshirt Freshman
The departure of three of Ohio State's top receivers paves the way for new faces, and one of those is Jaelen Gill.
Gill saw just 15 total snaps in 2018 in a redshirt season, but after the departure of Parris Campbell, the former top-30 player could make an impact at the H-back/slot receiver position behind K.J. Hill.
It's hard to project production for a player who has yet to see any action, but Gill has always had obvious talent and athleticism. Now he also has a clear path to the field.
Teradja Mitchell – Linebacker – Sophomore
He still has to earn playing time, but Teradja Mitchell could be on the verge of a breakout season in his second year on campus.
Mitchell saw just two defensive snaps the entire 2018 season, seeing most of his action on special teams, but Ryan Day said Mitchell is pushing incumbent Mike linebacker Tuf Borland for playing time this fall.
Whether or not Mitchell can beat out Borland for the job before the season starts, he will most likely see the field in some rotational capacity, giving him an opportunity to prove himself in a live game scenario. When that happens, it could be hard to keep him off the field.
Josh Myers – Center – Redshirt Sophomore
Josh Myers arrived at Ohio State as the second-highest-rated offensive guard in the 2017 class, behind only Wyatt Davis, who he'll line up next to this season.
Like Davis, Myers' potential and physical gifts have been there since he arrived in Columbus, but he has been buried on the depth chart until this season. Now, Myers steps into Ohio State's starting center spot, which has been previously occupied by two Rimington Award winners and an All-American.
Myers has not yet played a meaningful snap for the Buckeyes, redshirting his freshman season and only playing with backups in 2018, but now he's a starter and the Ohio State will need him to be stout and steady this season.
Chris Olave – Wide Receiver – Sophomore
After emerging late in the 2018 season, Chris Olave is poised for a big year in 2019.
As a true freshman, Olave was crucial against both Michigan and Northwestern, scoring two touchdowns on two catches in The Game and pulling down five catches for 79 yards against the Wildcats in the Big Ten Championship game.
With Johnnie Dixon and Terry McLaurin gone, there will be more available reps for Olave at the Z receiver spot, and he's expected to make the most of them.
Jeremy Ruckert – Tight End – Sophomore
Ohio State does not typically utilize the tight end much in the passing game, but the Buckeyes also haven't often had a pass-catching talent like Jeremy Ruckert, and they seem intent on getting the tight end more involved in the offense this year.
In the spring, Ohio State experimented with two-tight end sets and playing Ruckert at receiver – specifically, the H-back position – and even began telling top tight end prospects to watch how they'll be used in the passing attack this season. If they really are more involved, Ruckert could be on the verge of a big season.
Tyreke Smith – Defensive End – Sophomore
The No. 34 overall player in the 2018 class, Tyreke Smith has potential to be an elite pass-rusher and after a season in the program, figures to be on the verge of a breakout season.
Though he’s unlikely to be a starter at the beginning of the season with Chase Young and Jonathan Cooper holding down the two defensive end spots, Smith figures to be the next player in the rotation and will see plenty of action.
Shaun Wade – Defensive Back – Redshirt Sophomore
One way or another, Shaun Wade will see plenty of action for the Buckeyes this season.
Wade was the second-highest-rated cornerback in the 2017 class, behind only his teammate Jeff Okudah, but redshirted his first season due primarily to an injury.
Wade made an impact in 2018 – his first playing season – as perhaps the team’s most versatile defensive back, playing three different positions throughout the season. He emerged as the team’s top slot cornerback in the nickel package, was a backup for the outside corners, and rotated in at safety, even starting opposite of Jordan Fuller against Nebraska.
Wherever he lines up this season, he’s proven he can be an impact player, leading the team with three interceptions and delivering a couple bone-crunching hits against Michigan last season.
Garrett Wilson – Wide Receiver – Freshman
The only true freshman on this list, Garrett Wilson figures to be an instant impact for the Buckeyes this season.
Wilson is the highest-rated wide receiver to ever sign with the Buckeyes, and he's drawn rave reviews in both spring and fall practice after enrolling early at Ohio State in January. He had four catches for 44 yards and an impressive touchdown reception in the spring game.
With Johnnie Dixon and Terry McLaurin gone, the door is open for Wilson to make an immediate impact in Ohio State's receiving corps this year.