In a spring where reps were more important than ever for the Ohio State football team, the Buckeyes had 109 snaps of offense vs. defense in their final practice of the spring.
Those 109 snaps were televised for the world to watch, as the Buckeyes returned to Ohio Stadium to play a spring game in front of fans for the first time since 2019. Seventy-eight of the 111 players on the Buckeyes’ current roster took the field for at least one snap in the Shoe on Saturday as Ohio State wrapped up its 15 spring practices for 2021.
As we’ve done for every Ohio State football game since 2017, we went back through the game film to tally which Buckeyes were on the field for each of those 109 plays to get a definitive look at which players took the most reps in the spring game.
While the distribution of snaps in a spring game is much different than a regular game, as it’s more about getting game-like reps to the players who need them than it is about getting the best players on the field, there are still some takeaways we can make about how playing time was distributed in the spring game to get an idea of how the depth chart might stack up at each position coming out of spring.
In a change from the Scarlet vs. Gray games of past years, Ohio State split the team up into Brutus and Buckeye rosters for the first half of this year’s spring game, then mixed the rosters for an untimed offense vs. defense scrimmage in the second half. The Brutus offense played 34 first-half snaps against the Buckeye defense, the Buckeye offense played 37 first-half against the Brutus defense and the second half consisted of 38 total snaps. Some players switched between teams even in the first half, too, so we’ve designated below how many snaps each player was on the field for Brutus in the first half, for Buckeye in the first half and in the second half.
Our full breakdown of the spring game snap counts, as compiled by Eleven Warriors, is below with our analysis on what we can glean from who played when and how much at each position.
Jack Miller: 40 (12 Brutus, 17 Buckeye, 11 second half)
C.J. Stroud: 36 (19 Brutus, 3 Buckeye, 14 second half)
Kyle McCord: 27 (3 Brutus, 17 Buckeye, 7 second half)
Jagger LaRoe: 4 (4 second half)
J.P. Andrade: 2 (2 second half)
Miller was the first quarterback to take the field in Saturday’s spring game, but that’s probably not worth reading into too much, as he was the only scholarship quarterback on the original roster for Team Buckeye, which started with the ball after the game’s opening coin toss.
The three scholarship quarterbacks alternated series throughout the game, with Stroud entering the game second and McCord entering the game third and all three games switching between the Buckeye and Brutus rosters. Stroud started the second half after Miller closed out the first half; both of them ended up playing five series, while McCord played four, likely because they’ve both been at Ohio State for a year longer than McCord has.
You could choose to read into the fact that Miller played the most snaps among quarterbacks in the spring game, or that Stroud started the second half with the day’s first-team offensive line – but Saturday was really about getting all three quarterbacks enough reps to show what they can do while throwing in front of fans in Ohio Stadium for the first time, and Ryan Day and Corey Dennis ensured that happened.
Walk-on quarterbacks LaRoe and Andrade, who had also never thrown passes in an Ohio State game before Saturday, also got their turn in the spotlight on the game’s final series. LaRoe turned heads with his performance, as he completed three of four passing attempts for 63 yards (including a beautiful 20-yard touchdown pass to Sam Wiglusz on the game’s final play), while Andrade completed his two passing attempts for 12 total yards.
Marcus Crowley: 26 (21 Buckeye, 5 second half)
TreVeyon Henderson: 23 (16 Buckeye, 7 second half)
Evan Pryor: 20 (12 Brutus, 8 second half)
Miyan Williams: 19 (15 Brutus, 4 second half)
Steele Chambers: 14 (7 Brutus, 7 second half)
Robert Cope: 7 (7 second half)
Even though Master Teague didn’t play in the spring game, there were still plenty of running backs to split up the rest of the snaps, as the other five scholarship running backs all saw their share of playing time in both the first and second halves.
Crowley started the game for Buckeye and played the most total snaps of any running back while Williams started the game for Brutus. Williams also started the second half at running back, which comes after he seemingly took the most first-team reps of any running back the rest of the spring, too.
Henderson, who’s also made a push to climb the depth chart in his first spring at Ohio State, was the second running back into the game for Buckeye and had the most total touches (six carries for 26 yards, five catches for 29 yards) of any running back in Saturday’s spring game.
Cope, a walk-on, checked in for the final seven plays of the game.
Marvin Harrison Jr.: 51 (34 Brutus, 17 second half)
Emeka Egbuka: 48 (33 Brutus, 15 second half)
Jameson Williams: 48 (37 Buckeye, 11 second half)
Garrett Wilson: 35 (35 Buckeye)
Chris Olave: 34 (34 Brutus)
Jaxon Smith-Njigba: 28 (28 Buckeye)
Jayden Ballard: 27 (27 second half)
Sam Wiglusz: 17 (17 second half)
Xavier Johnson: 11 (11 second half)
Austin Kutscher: 9 (9 second half)
Marvin Davies: 5 (5 second half)
With Julian Fleming still recovering from shoulder surgery, the top six wide receivers among those available for the spring game were clear, as Wilson (X), Williams (Z) and Smith-Njigba (slot) played the entire first half for Buckeye while Harrison (X), Olave (Z) and Egbuka (slot) started and played all the first-half receiver snaps for Brutus.
Olave, Wilson and Smith-Njigba all checked out of the game at halftime, a likely indicator that they’re the three starting wide receivers for 2021. Williams, Harrison and Egbuka – who look like the second-team receivers right now, though Fleming could change that in preseason camp – started the second half of the game and led all receivers in snaps played.
Ballard – who, like Egbuka and Harrison, was ranked among the top 100 prospects in the recruiting class of 2021 – appears to be on the outside looking in for a spot in the receiver rotation right now, as he did not play any snaps in the first half, though he did play the most snaps among all receivers in the second half. All of his snaps came outside, where walk-ons Johnson and Kutscher also saw second-half playing time, while Wiglusz and Davies saw second-half snaps in the slot.
Cade Stover: 36 (34 Buckeye, 2 second half)
Joe Royer: 29 (19 Brutus, 10 second half)
Mitch Rossi: 21 (13 Brutus, 8 second half)
Patrick Gurd: 19 (11 Buckeye, 8 second half)
Corey Rau: 10 (3 Brutus, 7 second half)
Sam Hart: 8 (3 Buckeye, 5 second half)
Jeremy Ruckert didn’t play in the spring game, so Stover got the start for Buckeye – and played all but three of Buckeye’s first-half snaps – while Rossi got the start for Brutus, though Royer ended up playing the most snaps for Brutus and the second-most snaps among all tight ends behind Stover.
All six available tight ends saw playing time in both halves, with two of them getting on the field together for a total of 14 snaps. Stover looks like the probable frontrunner to be the No. 2 tight end on the depth chart behind Ruckert, though, with Royer and Rossi (who often lines up as a fullback) also in the mix for semi-regular playing time at the position. Gee Scott Jr. could also potentially factor into the tight end competition, but he didn’t play in the spring game.
Josh Fryar: 55 (37 Buckeye, 18 second half)
Paris Johnson Jr.: 55 (37 Buckeye, 18 second half)
Dawand Jones: 55 (37 Buckeye, 18 second half)
Ryan Jacoby: 54 (34 Brutus, 20 second half)
Jack Jamieson: 45 (34 Brutus, 11 second half)
Thayer Munford: 45 (34 Brutus, 11 second half)
Enokk Vimahi: 45 (34 Brutus, 11 second half)
Matthew Jones: 43 (34 Brutus, 9 second half)
Ben Christman: 38 (11 Buckeye, 27 second half)
Luke Wypler: 35 (24 Buckeye, 11 second half)
Jakob James: 31 (13 Buckeye, 18 second half)
Grant Toutant: 26 (26 Buckeye)
Trey Leroux: 9 (9 second half)
Zen Michalski: 9 (9 second half)
Buckeye’s starting offensive line for Saturday’s game consisted of Dawand Jones at left tackle, Fryar at left guard, Wypler at center, Johnson at right guard and Toutant at right tackle, while the starters for Brutus were Munford at left tackle, Jamieson at left guard, Matthew Jones at center, Jacoby at right guard and Vimahi at right tackle. Starting right tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere and Harry Miller, a potential starter at either center or left guard, did not play in the spring game.
Perhaps most notably, the starting offensive line for the second half once the two rosters were combined consisted of Munford, Fryar, Wypler, Johnson and Dawand Jones – an indicator that Fryar and Wypler really are making a push in the competition for starting jobs with Miller and Matthew Jones. Dawand Jones, who was also viewed as a potential contender to start at guard going into the spring, played exclusively at tackle in the spring game and appears primed to be the top backup at that position.
James also saw some snaps in both halves at center while Christman was on the field at right tackle in both halves. Toutant, a projected second- or third-team tackle, was the only offensive lineman who played in the first half that didn’t play in the second half. Michalski entered the game at left tackle and Leroux played left guard for the game’s final series with James, Jacoby and Chrisman.
Jacolbe Cowan: 54 (25 Buckeye, 5 Brutus, 24 second half)
Darrion Henry-Young: 46 (20 Brutus, 7 Buckeye, 19 second half)
Cormontae Hamilton: 45 (22 Buckeye, 5 Brutus, 18 second half)
Jack Sawyer: 41 (18 Brutus, 5 Buckeye, 18 second half)
Aaron Cox: 35 (21 Buckeye, 14 second half)
Zach Harrison: 14 (14 Brutus)
Javontae Jean-Baptiste: 14 (14 Brutus)
Of Ohio State’s four experienced veteran defensive ends, only Harrison and Jean-Baptiste played in the spring game. Both of them started the game for Brutus and played 14 first-half snaps before watching from the sidelines for the rest of the day. Tyreke Smith and Tyler Friday didn’t play on Saturday.
That opened the door for Cowan, Henry-Young, Hamilton and Sawyer to all see extensive playing time in the scrimmage. Cowan and Hamilton started the game for Buckeye, while Henry-Young and Sawyer played their first snaps for Brutus, but all four of them played snaps for both sides in the first half, with Cox – a walk-on – also in the rotation for Buckeye and in the second half. Sawyer and Cowan were the starting defensive ends for the second half.
Sawyer was the clear-cut star of the defensive ends in the spring game, as he delivered a dominant four-sack performance, but Cowan, Henry-Young and Hamilton all put their versatility on display by playing snaps at both defensive end and defensive tackle over the course of the game.
Noah Potter: 58 (25 Brutus, 5 Buckeye, 28 second half)
Ty Hamilton: 49 (15 Brutus, 11 Buckeye, 23 second half)
Jerron Cage: 29 (18 Buckeye, 6 Brutus, 5 second half)
Antwuan Jackson: 21 (21 Brutus)
Taron Vincent: 16 (13 Buckeye, 3 second half)
Jaden McKenzie: 14 (5 Brutus, 9 Buckeye)
With Haskell Garrett sidelined by a foot injury, Taron Vincent (3-tech) and Jerron Cage (nose) were the starting defensive tackles for Buckeye while Jackson (nose) and Potter (3-tech) – who moved to defensive tackle this spring after starting his Ohio State career at defensive end – started the game for Brutus.
Jackson, a potential starter at nose tackle, played only in the first half while Vincent and Cage, who are also expected to be in the two-deep, started the second half but played only on the first series. The majority of second-half defensive tackle snaps were played by Potter and Ty Hamilton – who look like the frontrunners to be the third-team defensive tackle – with Cowan, Henry-Young and Cormontae Hamilton also mixing in.
Cody Simon: 44 (34 Brutus, 10 second half)
Reid Carrico: 43 (14 Brutus, 4 Buckeye, 25 second half)
Tommy Eichenberg: 43 (30 Buckeye, 13 second half)
K’Vaughan Pope: 39 (34 Buckeye, 5 second half)
Teradja Mitchell: 26 (26 Brutus)
Roen McCullough: 23 (23 second half)
Mitchell started at Will linebacker and Simon started at Mike linebacker for Brutus while Pope started at Will linebacker and Eichenberg started at Mike for Buckeye. Mitchell, the projected starter at Will, played only in the first half, with Simon also playing Will and starting at that position alongside Eichenberg in the second half.
The majority of second-half snaps featured Carrico at middle linebacker and McCullough – who’s typically the backup long snapper, but made a temporary move to linebacker for the spring game – at Will. Ohio State had only five actual linebackers available for the spring game with Dallas Gant, Mitchell Melton and walk-ons Ryan Batsch and Cade Kacherski all sidelined by injuries.
Ronnie Hickman: 55 (37 Brutus, 18 second half)
Craig Young: 52 (34 Buckeye, 18 second half)
The mythical bullet position became real in the spring game as Hickman played every first-half snap for Brutus, Young played every first-half snap for Buckeye and one of them on the field for all but two plays in the second half.
The bullet took the place of the Sam linebacker in the spring game – which might have been in part because Ohio State was so shorthanded at linebacker – and Young and Hickman often lined up as linebackers on Saturday. But they also sometimes lined up as safeties, and it does appear likely that the bullet will become a staple position in Ohio State’s defense this year.
Since they both played almost the same number of snaps, there’s no clear frontrunner to start at the position between Hickman and Young, and it’s certainly possible they could both see regular playing time in a rotation this fall, as Young had been a linebacker for the past two years while Hickman had been a safety.
Demario McCall: 57 (34 Buckeye, 2 Brutus, 21 second half)
Ryan Watts: 50 (35 Brutus, 15 second half)
Tyreke Johnson: 37 (37 Brutus)
Denzel Burke: 36 (34 Buckeye, 2 second half)
Cameron Kittle: 24 (24 second half)
Andrew Moore: 14 (14 second half)
Watts and Johnson were the starting cornerbacks for Brutus while McCall and Burke were the starting cornerbacks for Buckeye. They were the only four scholarship players to see action at outside cornerback on Saturday, as potential starters Sevyn Banks and Cameron Brown were sidelined by injuries while Lejond Cavazos also did not play.
McCall, in his first action at cornerback after spending his first five years at Ohio State on offense, played the most snaps of any outside cornerback on Saturday while Watts – who had the game’s only interception – also saw extensive playing time in both halves. Johnson, the most experienced cornerback who played on Saturday, played every first-half defensive snap for Brutus but did not play at all in the second half.
Kittle and Moore, both walk-ons, saw all of their playing time after halftime.
Cameron Martinez: 57 (37 Brutus, 20 second half)
Lathan Ransom: 52 (34 Buckeye, 18 second half)
Martinez and Ransom split all of the snaps at the slot cornerback/cover safety position in Saturday’s spring game, in which Marcus Williamson did not play. Martinez played every first-half snap for Brutus and Ransom played every first-half snap for Buckeye, while they rotated throughout the second half, which Ransom started.
While there aren’t any real conclusions to draw from their spring game snap counts about how they stack up on the depth chart in comparison to Williamson, it appears Ohio State has three legitimate options for regular playing time at the position after Ransom and Martinez both impressed while going through their first spring practices as Buckeyes.
Bryson Shaw: 52 (37 Brutus, 15 second half)
Jantzen Dunn: 36 (16 Buckeye, 20 second half)
Josh Proctor: 23 (18 Buckeye, 5 second half)
Proctor, the projected starter at deep safety, started the game for Team Buckeye and played the first five snaps of the second half before checking out for the day.
Shaw, who currently projects to be the top backup at free safety (though that could depend on if and when Marcus Hooker returns to the team), played every first-half snap for Brutus and the most snaps among all safeties on Saturday. Dunn rotated in with Proctor in the first half and also played 20 second-half snaps, including two plays on which Shaw and Dunn were both on the field together in place of a bullet.
Field Goals/Extra Points
Jake Seibert (kicker)
Jesse Mirco (holder)
Bradley Robinson (long snapper)
Mitch Rossi (wing)
Matthew Jones (rocker)
Ryan Jacoby (tackle)
Dawand Jones (guard)
Jerron Cage (guard)
Josh Fryar (tackle)
Enokk Vimahi (rocker)
Cade Stover (wing)
Ohio State deployed the same lineup for all of its field goal and extra point attempts on Saturday – and given that those were live, that could be an indicator of what the lineup will look like this fall, too. Seibert, who’s in line to replace Blake Haubeil as Ohio State’s top kicker this season, missed both of his field goal attempts from 40 and 45 yards out.
Other new additions to the field goal team from last season included Mirco at holder, Rossi and Stover on the ends of the line and Jacoby and Fryar as tackles.
Dominic DiMaccio (1 kickoff)
Jake Seibert (1 kickoff)
Jameson Williams (2 returns)
Ohio State didn’t do live kickoffs in the spring game, but it is notable that Williams – who was a kickoff returner in high school, but has yet to return a kick in his Ohio State career – caught the kickoffs to start the first and second half on Saturday. While McCall has been the lead kickoff returner for the last two seasons, Williams could be another option to give the Buckeyes a potential spark in that phase of the game.
DiMaccio is likely in line to handle kickoff duties again this season, as he handled them last year when Haubeil was battling a groin injury.
Jesse Mirco (punter)
Bradley Robinson (long snapper)
Mitch Rossi (upback)
Tommy Eichenberg (upback)
Cade Stover (wing)
Lathan Ransom (tackle)
Craig Young (guard)
Steele Chambers (guard)
Xavier Johnson (tackle)
Chris Olave or Jameson Williams (gunner)
Josh Proctor (gunner)
Jaxon Smith-Njigba (2 returns)
Chris Olave (2 returns)
Garrett Wilson (1 return)
There were no live returns on punts in the spring game, either, but Ohio State did put a full punting unit on the field, which could be an indicator of who will play on that unit this season.
Mirco, who arrived at Ohio State from Australia in January, averaged 33.8 yards per punt on five punts. Other new additions to the punt team included Proctor as a gunner, Rossi and Eichenberg as Mirco’s protectors in the backfield and Stover, Ransom and Young up front.