Roster turnover is the one certainty in college football, particularly in the transfer portal era, and no program is immune.
Whether natural departures due to eligibility expiration, transfers or anything else, Ryan Day's 2022 roster is missing no less than 27 players from its 2021 squad.
The most notable names include Thayer Munford, Nicholas Petit-Frere, Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, Jeremy Ruckert, Haskell Garrett, Antwuan Jackson and Bryson Shaw.
Many of those on the move offered significant leadership to last season's team with Munford, Olave and Garrett serving as three of Ohio State's six captains.
Despite the gaps in leadership and production created by player vacancies, Ohio State figures to be in great shape in both areas and one reason is the number of players still on the roster dating all the way back to the 2017 and 2018 recruiting cycles.
This fall, Day's roster projects to feature 13 players from those two classes with many expected to play legit roles and a handful of others operating as supporting cast.
The guys Ohio State is counting on most look to be the following.
MATTHEW JONES - RIGHT GUARD - CLASS OF 2018
At 6-foot-4, 310 pounds, interior offensive lineman Matthew Jones has been somewhat of an unsung hero the last few years. His ability to fill in, and hang in, after it appeared heading into last season he'd finally be a starter only for Ohio State to adjust things by basically starting four tackles, forcing him to a sixth-man role, was impressive to watch.
He did log 459 snaps last year and with a starting right guard spot locked up, it's his time to shine. With Ohio State likely breaking in Donovan Jackson as a first-year starter at left guard and Paris Johnson Jr. sliding from right guard to his natural left tackle spot, Jones has an opportunity to seize a leadership role up front alongside center Luke Wypler and right tackle Dawand Jones.
The kid deserves a big time season and there's no reason to think he won't make a run at all-league honors.
TARON VINCENT - DEFENSIVE TACKLE - CLASS OF 2018
With the departures of interior defensive linemen Haskell Garrett and Antwuan Jackson, Ohio State needs a huge season from 3-tech Taron Vincent.
The 6-foot-2, 305-pounder from IMG Academy saw the second-most snaps along the interior a season ago, logging 23 stops and 3.5 tackles for loss.
A multi-year OSU scholar athlete and academic All Big-Ten selection, Vincent has the chops to guide Larry Johnson's position group and give it even more production.
Of course Johnson wants to keep his guys fresh and a guy like Tyleik Williams needs his share of snaps too but there's no question the defense needs Vincent to be a dependable run stopper and chew up blocks to keep a group of linebackers clean that have their improvements to realize from a season ago.
JERRON CAGE - DEFENSIVE TACKLE - CLASS OF 2017
Another seasoned veteran in Larry Johnson's room, Jerron Cage logged 231 snaps at the nose a year ago, despite the first two games, and posted 10 tackles with 4.0 for loss. He's been around for a long time, quietly giving the Buckeyes depth up the gut.
Ty Hamilton (254 snaps) ultimately logged a few more plays than Cage last season and he could more organically cut those snaps again but just like with Vincent/Williams, you know Johnson wants to rotate at least two guys at the nose.
That means the veteran Cage needs to stand tall in the trenches as Ohio State looks to improve stopping the run when it counts.
CAM BROWN - CORNERBACK - CLASS OF 2018
Ohio State received a boost when Brown opted to return for another season after logging 24 stops, seven pass breakups and an interception last year.
Starting opposite an emergent Denzel Burke, Brown gave the Buckeyes solid No. 2 cornerback play, logging 458 snaps, and will be expected to do so again this fall.
Unlike last season, Brown projects to have a more serviceable backup now and Jordan Hancock should see his fair share of snaps based on what he showed in spring camp.
Still, Brown's veteran chops will be of huge importance for an Ohio State secondary looking to retool after ranking No. 96 in pass defense in 2021.
JOSH PROCTOR - SAFETY - CLASS OF 2018
Speaking of retooling the secondary, Ohio State is fortunate to welcome Josh Proctor back after the hard-hitting safety broke his leg in week two against Oregon.
Many were expecting big things from Proctor last season after he logged the second-most snaps among the safeties in 2020.
Limited in spring as he battles back, the expectation remains Proctor will be good to go come fall and the Buckeyes can use both his physical style and playmaking ability. The key for Proctor is to stay disciplined. If he can do that, the back-end of Ohio State's defense should be in much better shape than it was a year ago.
Proctor figures to be a key cog, especially with the departures of Marcus Williamson and Bryson Shaw, though Kourt Williams projects to be a significant factor at the strong safety spot as well.
TANNER MCCALLISTER - NICKEL SAFETY - CLASS OF 2018
A newcomer to the program after playing for new defensive coordinator Jim Knowles at Oklahoma State, McCallister has drawn rave reviews for his veteran savvy, knowledge of the defense and ability to make plays.
The 5-foot-11, 192-pounder out of Rockwall, Texas has 23 starts under the last two seasons under his belt and he's a two-time Academic All-Big 12 guy.
A key piece of Knowles' strategy in implementing his scheme calls for McCallister to be a quarterback of the defense and all signs indicate McCallister is helping shorten his teammates' learning curve.
But he's not just a coach on the field. McCallister boasts 123 tackles and 12 pass breakups in 41 games with the Cowboys.
NOAH RUGGLES - PLACE KICKER - CLASS OF 2017
After arriving in Columbus one year ago to take over placekicking duties for the Buckeyes, Ruggles was a revelation last year.
The former North Carolina Tar Heel converted on 20 of 21 field goal tries for the Buckeyes including 9-of-10 from 30-39 yards and 4-of-4 from 40 yards or more.
Of course it was his shortest kick of the season that most fans remember as his 19-yard chip shot (and stare down) with nine seconds left in regulation sent the Buckeyes to a 48-45 win over Utah in the Rose Bowl.
His only miss of the season came during a 56-7 blowout of Michigan State.
Ruggles wasn't with the Buckeyes during spring semester but Day and company expect him back for the season. Yes, he'll to complete with USC transfer Parker Lewis but it's hard to envision a scenario where Ruggles isn't handling field goal duties this season if he's on the roster.
AND THAT'S NOT ALL
Even after running through those seven different veterans, Ohio State has six more fifth and sixth-year guys expected to play roles of varying degree.
Javontae Jean-Baptiste gave OSU 313 snaps last year as a pass rushing specialist and will again push for playing time. He's joined by Tyler Friday after the 6-foot-3, 264-pound defensive end missed the 2021 season with an ACL tear. JJB's reserve rotational role is more certain for obvious reasons but I'm sure Johnson is glad to have them both back after Noah Potter's transfer and especially Mitchell Melton's injury.
Speaking of injuries, having a healthy Kamryn Babb in the receiver room is a great thing because no kid deserves a shot to play more than him, after all he's been through. Obviously, it's hard to see him playing a huge role on the field but his value in the locker room and off the field has long been documented as supremely important to the program.
One of the more interesting position groups features a couple elder statesmen in Teradja Mitchell and Palaie Gaotoete. Neither projects as a starter coming out of spring camp but Mitchell's obviously played his share of snaps at Ohio State and Gaotoete was a highly sought after transfer a season ago. Mitchell plays with an infectious energy and should provide meaningful depth behind Tommy Eichenberg at the middle linebacker spot while Gaotoete's role seems a little harder to peg in a defensive scheme that likely won't feature as many three-linebacker looks.
Finally, tight end Mitch Rossi is back after the class of 2017 product logged 143 snaps a season ago. It might be tough sledding for Rossi to carve out as meaningful a role this year but even if not, Day has shown a penchant for situational deployment of the versatile 6-foot-1, 245 pounder.