Linebackers, Wide Receivers, and Offensive Line Are the Deepest Position Groups for the Buckeyes

By Jake Anderson on March 31, 2020 at 1:35 pm
Javontae Jean-Baptiste, Dallas Gant, K'Vaughan Pope

Throughout the course of the college football season, anything can happen to a team's roster. Players can get hurt, some redshirt to save eligibility, others decide to transfer, etc. Ohio State was remarkably healthy last year and kept its top recruits in Columbus but that trend should not be expected to continue forever.

Already, the Buckeyes are down a key running back after an injury and a number of other players were dealing with ailments before the start of practices. Because of this, depth is always one of the most important aspects of roster-building. While a lot of attention has gone to the thinner position groups, such as the secondary, Ohio State is remarkably deep in other areas around the field. 


With the lone major departure of Ohio State's linebackers corps being Malik Harrison, the Buckeyes will be two-deep with upperclassmen at all three positions. Tuf Borland and Pete Werner will be returning as third-year starters while Baron Browning and Justin Hilliard will likely be competing for the third and final starting spot. The official positions of each player are still fluid, however, as Browning and Werner have both spent time learning Sam and Will and while Hilliard has spent most of his time learning Sam, he recognizes that "a lot of us are interchangeable". 

Linebacker Depth

  • Tuf Borland ★★★★
  • Pete Werner ★★★★
  • Baron Browning ★★★★
  • Justin Hilliard ★★★★★
  • Dallas Gant ★★★★
  • Teradja Mitchell ★★★★★
  • K’Vaughan Pope ★★★★

Behind the projected preseason starters sit three juniors that look like they will have to wait one more year before earning a full-time spot on the field. Dallas Gant, Teradja Mitchell, and K’Vaughan Pope have all played in at least 20 games. Mitchell came to Columbus as a five-star recruit while Gant and Pope came as four-stars, pushing the talent level for the linebacker's room through the roof. 

In most years and on most teams, the three juniors of them would be preparing to start this fall. Instead, the Buckeyes' veteran-laden linebackers will lead the second level. Ohio State's linebacker room is seven-deep, helping the local team prepare for any situation with no drop-off in performance. 

Wide Receivers

Unlike the last two years, Ohio State's wide receiving corps will not rely on veteran pass-catchers. Junior Chris Olave will likely be the oldest starting receiver on the team with sophomore Garrett Wilson as the only other guaranteed starter this coming fall. While those two will lead the charge, the Buckeyes' complements to them should not be considered inferior players. 

Wide Receiver Depth

  • Chris Olave ★★★ 
  • Garrett Wilson ★★★★★ 
  • Jameson Williams ★★★★ 
  • Julian Fleming ★★★★★
  • Jaxon Smith-Njigba ★★★★★
  • Gee Scott Jr. ★★★★
  • Mookie Cooper ★★★★
  • Kamryn Babb ★★★★
  • Demario McCall ★★★★
  • Jaelen Gill ★★★★★

Behind Olave and Wilson sit a number of talented underclassmen itching to compete for playing time. Sophomore Jameson Williams and Ohio State's four talented freshmen Julian Fleming, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Gee Scott Jr., and Mookie Cooper are the top-names to watch this fall. The four freshmen will likely all see playing time this fall, giving Ohio State up to six underclassmen contributors in Brian Hartline's group. 

Redshirt sophomore Kamryn Babb, a former top-75 recruit who has struggled with injuries his entire career, could also be in the mix. Additionally, while this has been said for the past two years, this could be the season that Demario McCall and Jaelen Gill crack the depth-chart. 

As Ohio State's linebackers lean on its seniors, the Buckeyes will likely have to rely on at least three inexperienced, underclassmen pass-catchers this fall. The talent of Hartline's group is undeniable, however, and Ohio State will have an electric offense with any one of these wideouts on the field. 

Offensive Line

With three starters returning this season, Ohio State's offensive line should be one of the best units in the nation once again. The return of Josh Myers, Thayer Munford, and Wyatt Davis should give the Bucks some consistency upfront while the left guard and right tackle positions are up for grabs. Redshirt sophomore Nicholas Petit-Frere, a former five-star recruit and one of the top players in his class, is the favorite to win the right-tackle spot while sophomore Harry Miller, the nation's No. 2 center in the class of 2018 and Ohio State's backup center last year, and fifth-year Gavin Cupp, who took first-year snaps last year before Jonah Jackson's arrival, will be competing for the starting left guard slot this fall. 

Offensive Line Depth

  • Josh Myers ★★★★
  • Thayer Munford ★★★★
  • Wyatt Davis ★★★★★
  • Nicholas Petit-Frere ★★★★★
  • Harry Miller ★★★★★
  • Gavin Cupp ★★★
  • Dawand Jones ★★★
  • Paris Johnson Jr. ★★★★★
  • Matthew Jones ★★★★
  • Luke Wypler ★★★★

Backing up the starters is a number of highly-touted recruits and early contributors. At the tackle spots, sophomore Dawand Jones and freshman Paris Johnson Jr. provide the Buckeyes with some of the most impressive underclassmen in recent memory. Jones was talented enough to earn playing time as a freshman and should be a backup this fall while Johnson was the ninth highest-rated player in the 2020 class and was impressing before the suspension of athletic activities. Inside, Cupp, Matthew Jones, the second-team left guard for most of last season, and Luke Wypler, the No. 2 center in the 2020 class, will be competing for playing time.

Further down, the Buckeyes have a number of long-term projects, helping them build for the future while already possessing one of the best lines in the nation. Ohio State's depth will help the line be ready for worst-case scenarios today while preparing for the future. 

A year after needing to bring in Rutgers transfer Jonah Jackson to sure up their offensive line, the Buckeyes are in a great position heading into the fall season. Ohio State's competition for the two final starting slots will bolster its starters while preparing its second-team for the season ahead.  

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