Justin Fields and Shaun Wade Anchor List of Sophomore-Eligible Buckeyes Expected to Contribute This Fall

By Chris Lauderback on March 14, 2019 at 11:05 am
Shaun Wade and Justin Fields are expected to come up big for Ohio State in their sophomore seasons.

Matthew Emmons | Dale Zanine - USA TODAY Sports

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Having already looked at the expected contributors from this year's senior and junior classes, today we turn our attention to the sophomore-eligible Buckeyes looking to carve out meaningful roles for Ryan Day this fall. 

Earning playing time after just one or two years in the program can be tough for sophomores and redshirt sophomores and this year is only tougher because Day's roster is loaded with veterans. 

In fact, there are 49 total junior and senior-eligible players on the roster at the moment while just 19 sophomore-eligible guys are vying for time. 

Despite the stiff competition, a handful of sophomores – most notably quarterback Justin Fields and defensive back Shaun Wade – will play huge roles. 

Digging further, he's a look at how the sophomore class stacks up on each side of the ball.

OFFENSE

Fields entered spring drills as the sure-starter at quarterback no matter what kind of coach-speak might emanate from the WHAC. Fields didn't transfer to Ohio State from Georgia – when he had equally great options – to sit behind Matthew Baldwin. 

That's no knock of Baldwin – I'm super-high on the kid – it's just reality.  

2019 SOPHOMORE CLASS
PLAYER POSITION
JUSTIN FIELDS QB
ELLIJAH GARDINER WR
JAYLEN HARRIS WR
CHRIS OLAVE WR
JEREMY RUCKERT TE
WYATT DAVIS OL
JOSH MYERS OL
TYLER FRIDAY DE
TYREKE SMITH DE
JERRON CAGE DT
TARON VINCENT DT
T. TOGIAI DT
DALLAS GANT LB
TERADJA MITCHELL LB
K'VAUGHAN POPE LB
SHAUN WADE DB
SEVYN BANKS DB
CAMERON BROWN DB
JOSH PROCTOR DB

While Fields is the chief sophomore to watch on offense, six others will push for time although there's some separation among that group. 

Chris Olave figures to start at the X-receiver spot after coming on strong at the end of last season including two touchdowns against Michigan and another in the B1G championship win over Northwestern. He could be a star in the making if his trajectory holds true. 

Up front, Wyatt Davis is a lock to start at right guard after starting the last two games of last season in place of the injured Demetrius Knox. Next to Davis, things could get interesting as redshirt sophomore Josh Myers will make a run at center but could be challenged if Day and Greg Studrawa decide Rutgers graduate transfer Jonah Jackson can be of more help at center than left guard. Myers saw just 72 snaps a season ago and while the talk from the staff is that he was ready late last year, it's far from a given he'll start. 

At tight end, sophomore Jeremy Ruckert was a favorite of Urban Meyer and there's no question he's loaded with talent but there's also no question the tight end position is  stacked. Luke Farrell returns after seeing 640 snaps last year and so does Rashod Berry who racked up 403 plays of his own. Meanwhile, Ruckert played 129 snaps so while Ruckert will get some time, it's hard to argue he'll leapfrog either Farrell or Berry this fall. 

Besides Olave, the wide receiver room also features redshirt sophomores Jaylen Harris and Ellijah Gardiner but playing time could be very hard to come by for the duo. 

DEFENSE

Twelve total sophomores appear on the defensive side of the roster but with such an experienced group of upperclassmen returning, playing time will be tough to come by. 

On the edge, sophomore Tyreke Smith should be a rotational defensive end after playing in every game and seeing 183 snaps last fall. At present, he slots behind upperclassmen starters Chase Young and Jonathon Cooper (Gahanna shout out) and maybe redshirt senior Jashon Cornell on the overall defensive end pecking order. Fellow sophomore Tyler Friday should be in the mix (85 snaps last year) pending what true freshman Zach Harrison looks like in year one. 

Along the interior, sophomore Taron Vincent could be in line to start at the 3-tech over junior Haskell Garrett but even if he doesn't technically start, he figures to log heavy rotational snaps. 

At the nose, Tommy Togiai projects to build on a solid reserve campaign last year as a true freshman though a pair of experienced redshirt seniors in Robert Landers and Davon Hamilton will see the most action. Redshirt sophomore Jerron Cage doesn't look to be in the mix at either spot. 

A trio of sophomore linebackers, Dallas Gant, Teradja Mitchell and K'Vaughan Pope will play major roles on special teams but odds are meaningful snaps on defense will be a tough putt considering the Buckeyes return a host of experienced guys in Malik Harrison, Tuf Borland, Baron Browning, Pete Werner and Justin Hilliard combined with the reality defensive coordinator Greg Mattison may very well use Brendon White as hybrid linebacker/safety quite often, at times leaving just two natural linebackers on the field. 

Gant and Mitchell both bring loads of talent and Mitchell in particular was all over special teams last year playing upback on punt return, blocker on kickoff return and gunner on kickoff coverage. 

In the secondary, redshirt sophomore Shaun Wade could see action at corner, nickel and safety this season after leading the team with three interceptions and ranking third with seven PBUs last year. 

The other sophomore to watch in the back four is Josh Proctor. If White does indeed see the bulk of his time at the hybrid Viper spot, that could open the door for Proctor to log meaningful time alongside veteran Jordan Fuller at safety. 

Rounding out the sophomores, Sevyn Banks should again be a factor on special teams as a reserve defensive back though secondary snaps might be hard to come by while Cameron Brown saw just 24 snaps and is even further down the secondary depth chart at present. 

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