2022 Season Preview: A Final Preseason Projection of Ohio State’s Depth Chart

By Dan Hope on August 27, 2022 at 10:10 am
Julian Fleming

One week from today, we’ll get our first confirmed look at Ohio State’s starting lineup for the 2022 season when the Buckeyes take the field for their season opener against Notre Dame.

Until then, based on everything we saw and heard from the Buckeyes this offseason, we can make our best educated guess at what Ohio State’s 2022 depth chart will look like.

While some areas of the depth chart remain cloudy, it became clearer what the depth chart will likely look like at most positions during preseason camp, when media members had the opportunity to talk to coaches and players from every position group and watch multiple practice sessions.

Based on everything we’ve learned over the last eight months, here’s my best and final guess at how Ohio State’s three-deep depth chart will stack up for the upcoming season.


1. C.J. Stroud
2. Kyle McCord
3. Devin Brown

Ohio State’s quarterback depth chart hasn’t changed all offseason. Stroud is locked in as the Buckeyes’ starting quarterback and McCord is expected to be the next man up behind him. 

The Buckeyes will also want to get Brown reps this season ahead of an anticipated starting quarterback battle between McCord and Brown next offseason. But if Ohio State needs a quarterback other than Stroud to take snaps with the game on the line this season, it would be a surprise if McCord isn’t the quarterback they call upon, given the year of experience he has that Brown doesn’t.

Running Backs

1. TreVeyon Henderson
2. Miyan Williams
3. Dallan Hayden

Like at quarterback, a returning starter and only three healthy scholarship players – with one being a true freshman – leaves little suspense surrounding Ohio State’s running back depth chart entering the 2022 season.

Henderson is sure to lead the depth chart, but Williams will also see a consistent share of carries as the No. 2 running back. Evan Pryor’s season-ending injury opened the door for Hayden to earn a spot on the three-deep as a true freshman, and Ryan Day confirmed this week that Hayden seized that opportunity with a strong preseason camp.

Wide Receiver (X)

1. Marvin Harrison Jr.
2. Jayden Ballard
3. Kamryn Babb

Wide Receiver (Z)

1. Julian Fleming
2. Emeka Egbuka
3. Kyion Grayes

Wide Receiver (Slot)

1. Jaxon Smith-Njigba
2. Xavier Johnson
3. Kaleb Brown

While it seems pretty clear-cut who 10 of Ohio State’s 11 offensive stars will be, it’s still in question whether Fleming or Egbuka will join Smith-Njigba and Harrison in the starting lineup at wide receiver. I’m leaning slightly toward Fleming after his Iron Buckeye offseason, but my best guess is that both of them will start their share of games while playing a similar number of snaps in the rotation unless one of them clearly separates himself from the other.

Brian Hartline said this week that Johnson and Ballard are also among six wide receivers who he believes are “really ready to go on the field and play,” so it’s safe to assume they’ll round out the two-deep to start the season. Hartline said Babb would also be in that group if healthy, but he’s expected to miss the start of the season after suffering another knee injury, which keeps him out of the two-deep for at least the time being.

It doesn’t seem as though any of Ohio State’s freshman receivers are likely to be regulars in the rotation immediately, but the most likely candidates among them to push for playing time this season are Brown and Grayes, who have both had their black stripes removed.

Tight End

1. Cade Stover
2. Mitch Rossi
3. Joe Royer or Gee Scott Jr.

Kevin Wilson made it clear during his preseason media availability that Stover and Rossi have established themselves as the top two tight ends on Ohio State’s depth chart. Stover is likely to play the majority of snaps as a true in-line tight end, but Rossi will also see regular playing time as both a tight end and fullback.

Royer and Scott both have the potential to be X-factors as pass-catching tight ends, but Wilson indicated they still must become more reliable as blockers in order to earn consistent playing time. Both of them are listed on this depth chart projection, though, because I expect each of them to see at least some snaps with the first-team offense as third-year Buckeyes.

Cade Stover
Cade Stover is in line to be Ohio State’s new starting tight end this season.

Left Tackle

1. Paris Johnson Jr.
2. Zen Michalski
3. Avery Henry

Left Guard

1. Donovan Jackson
2. Enokk Vimahi
3. Tegra Tshabola


1. Luke Wypler
2. Jakob James
3. Toby Wilson

Right Guard

1. Matt Jones
2. Ben Christman
3. Trey Leroux or Grant Toutant

Right Tackle

1. Dawand Jones
2. Josh Fryar
3. Carson Hinzman or George Fitzpatrick

Ohio State’s starting offensive line has remained the same all offseason. Wypler and Dawand Jones reprise their starting jobs at center and right tackle, Johnson is locked in as the starting left tackle after playing right guard last season and Jackson and Matt Jones have solidified themselves as the starting guards.

Michalski and Fryar are set to be the top backup tackles while Vimahi is in line to be the top backup guard and James is expected to be the second-team center. Chrisman appears to be the frontrunner to round out the two-deep, as he took all the second-team reps at right guard during the only preseason practice that was fully open to the media.

Wilson provides additional depth at center while Henry, Hinzman and Fitzpatrick were seen taking third-team tackle reps in their first preseason camp. Tshabola, Leroux and Toutant can line up either inside or outside but were seen repping at guard during camp.

Defensive End

1. J.T. Tuimoloau
2. Zach Harrison
3. Tyler Friday

Defensive End/Jack

1. Jack Sawyer
2. Javontae Jean-Baptiste
3. Caden Curry

Tuimoloau, Sawyer, Harrison, Jean-Baptiste and Friday are all likely to see at least semi-regular playing time in Ohio State’s defensive end rotation, and I would guess Larry Johnson will give all five of them opportunities to start over the course of the season. In big games when the score is close, though, I’m predicting Tuimoloau and Sawyer will be the defensive ends who play the most snaps, with Harrison also heavily involved.

Sawyer and Jean-Baptiste will likely play at least some of their snaps at the “Jack” linebacker position, where Curry could also potentially factor in. Linebacker Palaie Gaoteote has also been named as a candidate to play that hybrid linebacker/edge defender position.

It remains uncertain how extensively the Jack will factor into Jim Knowles’ defensive scheme, though that could depend in part on how Johnson and the Buckeyes want to divvy up snaps among their defensive ends, as Tuimoloau, Harrison and Friday are likely to play most of their snaps as traditional down linemen.

Defensive Tackle (3-Tech)

1. Taron Vincent
2. Tyleik Williams
3. Jaden McKenzie

Defensive Tackle (Nose)

1. Jerron Cage
2. Ty Hamilton
3. Mike Hall

Like at defensive end, five players are expected to see regular playing time in the defensive tackle rotation. Vincent and Cage are expected to be the primary starters, but Williams and Hamilton should also see substantial snaps while Hall is also making a big push for playing time and could potentially rotate in at both defensive tackle spots.

McKenzie provides additional veteran depth but does not appear to be in line for frequent snaps unless injuries occur on the depth chart in front of him.

Will Linebacker

1. Steele Chambers
2. Chip Trayanum
3. C.J. Hicks

Mike Linebacker

1. Tommy Eichenberg
2. Cody Simon
3. Teradja Mitchell

Sam Linebacker

1. Teradja Mitchell
2. Palaie Gaoteote
3. Reid Carrico

Knowles said earlier this month that Chambers and Eichenberg are “solidifying” themselves as Ohio State’s top two linebackers, suggesting they will play the lion’s share of linebacker snaps when the Buckeyes are in their base 4-2-5 defense.

Trayanum is expected to be a top backup linebacker. Simon and Mitchell have been competing for the No. 2 spot on the Mike linebacker depth chart, though Mitchell also practiced with the first-team defense at Sam linebacker during camp, which could mean Mitchell is likely to play most of his snaps in three-linebacker packages.

Gaoteote and Carrico are candidates to play at both Will and Sam, but Hicks – the highest-rated recruit in Ohio State’s freshman class – seemed to build momentum this preseason toward at least earning a spot on the three-deep, with the potential to climb up the depth chart later in the season as he starts to gain experience.

Steele Chambers
Steele Chambers secured his spot as one of Ohio State’s starting linebackers by impressing Jim Knowles this offseason.


1. Denzel Burke
2. JK Johnson
3. Jyaire Brown


1. Cameron Brown
2. Jordan Hancock
3. Ryan Turner

Burke and Brown are returning starters and will be the starters as long as they’re fully healthy after dealing with minor ailments this preseason. Hancock has also been dealing with an injury in preseason camp that forced him to practice time, but he entered camp with momentum to be the No. 3 cornerback and likely will be when he’s fully healthy.

If any of the top cornerbacks miss time – which Ryan Day said this week he does not expect to happen – Johnson is in line to be the next man in the rotation, followed by Brown, after both of them impressed coaches in increased reps this month. Turner rounds out Ohio State’s scholarship cornerback roster, though Cameron Martinez and Jantzen Dunn could also potentially see action at cornerback if needed after both of them cross-trained at cornerback and safety in preseason camp.

Adjuster (Free Safety)

1. Ronnie Hickman
2. Lathan Ransom
3. Kye Stokes

Bandit (Strong Safety)

1. Josh Proctor
2. Kourt Williams
3. Sonny Styles

Nickel Safety

1. Tanner McCalister
2. Cameron Martinez
3. Jantzen Dunn

Hickman, Proctor and McCalister seem to be well-established as Ohio State’s starting trio of safeties entering the season, while Ransom, Williams and Martinez have also solidified their spots on the two-deep with strong camps. Although Jim Knowles has said he does not want to rotate heavily on the back end of the defense, Williams, Ransom and Martinez have all made a push for playing time and could see roles in defensive subpackages. Specifically, Williams offers the potential to play in a hybrid safety/linebacker capacity.

Stokes made a push for an immediate spot on the two-deep with a strong spring, but he appears likely to begin his career on the third line of the depth chart now that Ransom is fully recovered from his broken leg. Styles is another freshman to watch, as the five-star prospect has drawn plenty of praise this preseason, though he likely won’t be rushed into a major role after reclassifying from the class of 2023.


1. Noah Ruggles
2. Parker Lewis or Jake Seibert

Ruggles is back as Ohio State’s top kicker after making all but one of his field goal attempts last season. Lewis could potentially take over kickoff duties or even kick some long field goals if he is cleared to play by the NCAA, though his eligibility entering the season remains in question. Seibert also remains an option to kick if needed, though he spent most of the preseason practicing at cornerback.


1. Jesse Mirco
2. Michael O’Shaughnessy

Nothing has changed here from last season, as Mirco is back for his second season as Ohio State’s starting punter while O’Shaughnessy is the only other punter on the roster.

Long Snapper

1. Bradley Robinson
2. Mason Arnold

Seventh-year collegian Robinson is back for his third season as Ohio State’s starting long snapper. Arnold was Robinson’s top backup last season, while fellow redshirt freshman Max Lomonico gives the Buckeyes a third option.

Kickoff Returner

1. Emeka Egbuka
2. Xavier Johnson

Egbuka remains Ohio State’s lead kickoff returner after he averaged 29 yards per return in that role as a freshman. Johnson will likely be on the return team one way or another, as he’s already been a staple of the unit for several years, and has the ability to return kickoffs as needed.

Punt Returner

1. Cameron Martinez
2. Jaxon Smith-Njigba

Smith-Njigba has continued to see regular work at punt returner throughout the offseason, so it’s very possible he could retain the lead punt returner role. Martinez has split punt return reps with Smith-Njigba and others in practices, though, and making him the punt returner could be a way to give him a consistent role – one in which he was dangerous in high school – while keeping Smith-Njigba fresh for the many snaps he’ll play on offense.

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