Yes, I know about the spring game. I know it's a glorified practice whose primary purpose is to improve fan engagement and help with recruiting. I know that it means very little in the grand scheme of personnel decisions and depth chart impact overall.
But! It is still football. And we will use this football, as glorified as it may be, to gauge certain players in their progress towards the fall and playing time pursuits.
Here are a few players who I would like to see big things out of in the game today.
Amir Riep, Junior, Safety
Riep, from Cincinnati (GMC represent, baby), will be entering his true junior season as a prominent special teams player who has yet to significantly crack the defensive rotation. While Jordan Fuller has one of the safety spots on lock, Brendon White could be transitioning to the "bullet" hybrid safety-linebacker position, meaning there could be some reps in the rotation for a traditional safety.
With Ohio State getting two new defensive backs coaches in Jeff Hafley and Matt Barnes, the door is open for players to get fresh looks with a new staff, and Riep could certainly take advantage of that.
He will certainly get some reps in the defensive backfield tomorrow, and it would be nice to see him show a thing or two. Fuller, Marcus Hooker, Ronnie Hickman, and Marcus Williamson will not play today, so that will open up some opportunities for Riep to be on the field.
Haskell Garrett, Junior, Defensive Tackle
Garrett has been a part of Ohio State's defensive line rotation in his first two years in Columbus, but now, with the departure of Dre'Mont Jones, it is his time to shine.
Haskell Garrett got the first-team reps at the defensive tackle spot vacated by Dre'Mont Jones.— Colin Hass-Hill (@chasshill) March 6, 2019
In December, Jones said Larry Johnson "expects him to be the guy" to replace himself. https://t.co/eflR5qQg8H
While Robert Landers and Davon Hamilton will get a lot of reps at the defensive tackle positions throughout the season (and others such as Antwuan Jackson will certainly mix in), Garrett, a really good athlete, has a chance to be the next great one under Larry Johnson.
While it is unclear how many chances Garrett will get to shine today, simply due to the light-contact rules that will be enforced, it would be good to see him make a play or two. Robert Landers will not play in the game, so that should open up a few more opportunities for Garrett to be on the field.
Jeremy Ruckert, Tight End, Sophomore
The Lindenhurst, New York product came into Ohio State with a lot of hype. He showed some flashes last year, and parlayed that into a shot at wide receiver this spring (in addition to his tight end duties).
Jeremy Ruckert could see some playing time as an H receiver this season as Ohio State looks for more ways to get multiple tight ends on the field simultaneously. https://t.co/G64dvwaKxY— Eleven Warriors (@11W) March 29, 2019
Ruckert is a big guy with a big frame, and if Ohio State ever decides to start throwing to the tight ends, he could be a valuable weapon. While Luke Farrell has been pretty dependable during his time in Columbus, Rashod Berry's play has been inconsistent at times, and Jake Hausmann has been a non-factor, so the door is open for Ruckert if he can seize the opportunity.
It would be good to see him have a couple catches tomorrow. He can be a matchup nightmare if things are played the right way.
Joshua Alabi, Offensive Lineman, Senior
Alabi has earned valuable playing time in Columbus throughout his career, but it always came due to injuries to other players.
He has been pretty dependable in his career at Ohio State, and has been needed this spring due to an injury to Thayer Munford and the fact that Jonah Jackson will not arrive to Columbus until this summer.
Alabi has been playing left tackle due to Munford's injury, but has also shown the ability to play on the right side if needed.
Again, I'm not sure how many opportunities Alabi will have to show his worth, but it would be a big boost to the Buckeyes offensive line to have him be a force this season.