2020 Spring Preview: Ohio State Players Facing Make-or-Break Springs Against Younger Competition

By Kevin Harrish on February 23, 2020 at 8:05 am
Demario McCall

As spring practice begins, it's do-or-die time for a number of players on Ohio State's roster.

With a never-ending flow of blue-chip prospects to Columbus, many veterans risk being passed on the depth chart by talented younger players and must hold them off in order to earn significant playing themselves.

The following players haven't seen much action yet in their Ohio State careers, and how they perform this spring could determine whether they ever do.

WRs Jaylen Harris, Ellijah Gardiner and Jaelen Gill

We're putting all three of these wide receivers in the same category because they're all in essentially the same position this spring.

With just 12 catches for 126 yards between them in five combined seasons, none of them have cracked Ohio State's receiver rotation, playing only on special teams and in spurts at the end of blowout games.

With three veterans gone from last year's rotation and four top-100 freshmen entering the receivers room, it's make-or-break time for Harris, Gardiner and Gill. Either they're going to emerge as viable contributors this season, or they're going to be passed on the depth chart by younger players.

RB Demario McCall

If he's ever going to gain a consistent role in Ohio State's offense, it has to happen now for Demario McCall. As a fifth-year senior, this is his last chance, but it's also his best.

J.K. Dobbins' leap to the NFL opens up plenty of carries to be claimed next season, and McCall is the eldest and most experienced option in the Buckeye backfield. Last season, Master Teague emerged as Dobbins' primary backup as a redshirt freshman, but the running back depth chart is far from decided, and this spring will prove pivotal as McCall fights for first-team snaps.

McCall has also spent time at the H-back/slot position, and with the departure of K.J. Hill and nobody else on the roster with extension experience at the position, there could be snaps available there for him, as well.

McCall has flashed during his first three playing seasons in Columbus, with 89 carries for 553 yards and six touchdowns on the ground and 19 catches for 273 yards and two touchdowns through the air, but he still hasn't earned a regular role in the offense. This is his final chance to be a consistent difference-maker for the Buckeyes, and it starts this spring.

OG Gavin Cupp

The only fifth-year senior on Ohio State's offensive line, Gavin Cupp is also entering his final chance to earn a starting spot for the Buckeyes up front. 

The departure of Jonah Jackson opens up an opportunity for Cupp to compete for a starting spot, but to earn the job, Cupp will have to beat out some young and talented offensive linemen, including highly touted recruits Harry Miller and Matthew Jones.

Cupp has already been passed by two younger players with former five-stars Josh Myers and Wyatt Davis earning starting spots, and it can't happen again if he's going to earn a starting job for the Buckeyes.

CB Marcus Williamson

Marcus Williamson is now the only senior cornerback on Ohio State's roster, but he's yet to crack the first-team rotation. He'll have one more chance this season.

The departures of Damon Arnette, Jeff Okudah and Amir Riep open the door for Williamson, but Cameron Brown and Sevyn Banks were ahead of him in the rotation last year, and five-star prospect Tyreke Johnson figures to push for playing time as well.

Williamson will look to make his final season at Ohio State his best with the return of Kerry Coombs, who coached him for his first season as a Buckeye after recruiting him out of high school.

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