Carnell Tate, JT Tuimoloau And Davison Igbinosun Among Standouts in Ohio State’s Student Appreciation Day Scrimmage

By Griffin Strom on April 2, 2023 at 8:35 am

Ohio State pit iron against iron for the second consecutive Saturday.

The Buckeyes' second spring scrimmage was open to media, recruiting visitors and Ohio State fans as part of the program's Student Appreciation Day event at the Woody Hayes Atheltic Center, and Eleven Warriors was in attendance to watch nearly two hours of scarlet and gray practice.

Between situational red zone and third-down drills, 7-on-7 work and live 11-on-11 reps, a slew of standout performers emerged to have particularly impressive days during Ohio State's eighth spring practice. 

Carnell Tate

Perhaps no single Buckeye flashed more on Saturday than first-year wide receiver Carnell Tate. The heralded recruit shed his black stripe immediately following last weekend’s scrimmage, doing so earlier than any previous freshman since the tradition began in 2012, but Tate was far more impressive on Student Appreciation Day.

Tate took a high volume of first-team reps on Saturday and may have caught the most passes of any Ohio State wide receiver, hauling in balls from both Kyle McCord and Devin Brown across 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 work. Tate made plays over the middle of the field and came down with multiple contested passes down the sideline, routinely proving he can get open against the Buckeyes’ top defensive backs.

After practice, Ryan Day raved about Tate’s playmaking ability on the field and said his workmanlike approach off the field has been equally noteworthy since joining the program in January.

“There's a lot to be impressed with with Carnell. But I think the first thing is just his maturity, right from the jump,” Day said. “We do meetings where we kind of have everybody in the building go through each guy. Just the feedback we're getting from academics, from nutritionists, from strength and conditioning, position coaches, player development, everyone has such great things to say about Carnell off the field. It translates onto the field as well. He's prepared, he takes care of his business and he's very, very mature. That's off the field. 

“On the field, dude's making a lot of plays. Has to pick up a lot of offense for a young player. He's got a pretty mature route tree, does a nice job at the line of scrimmage, catches the ball strong, makes plays. All really encouraging signs. … If he keeps stacking these days, he's gonna get better. He's here to play.”

JT Tuimoloau and the D-Line

For the second straight week, the play of Ohio State’s defensive line was one of the primary takeaways from the Buckeyes’ scrimmage. The OSU offense edged out Jim Knowles and company in the modified scoring system last Saturday, but that wasn’t the case on Student Appreciation Day, and Larry Johnson’s unit was the main reason why.

“Overall, I thought the defense brought it today. They played really well,” Day said. “They pretty much dominated today's winner/loser. … There's a lot of pieces that come with it, we tried a couple situations coming out; third down, put the ball down in the red zone. So that was good to get that, we'll get it on film and keep growing. A lot of young guys are really grinding, stacking days, getting better. But I thought it was a really good job by the defense today, and particularly the defensive line, bunch of sacks.”

JT Tuimoloau appeared to be the most disruptive of all Buckeye linemen, finishing the scrimmage with three sacks against Ohio State’s retooled first-team offensive line. But he wasn’t the only member of the Rushmen who made plays.

Jack Sawyer got into the Buckeye backfield several times after a standout performance in last week’s scrimmage. Kenyatta Jackson, Caden Curry, Tyleik Williams and Mike Hall were all credited with sacks, Ty Hamilton batted down a Brown pass at the line of scrimmage and Jaden McKenzie tipped a McCord pass in the backfield.

The success of Johnson’s front four may not be all that encouraging for Justin Frye’s unit, but it’s certainly a plus for a defense that’s seeking more sack production in 2023.

Davison Igbinosun

The buzz around Ole Miss transfer Davison Igbinosun continues to build this spring. The 6-foot-2 cornerback took mostly second-team reps in Ohio State’s first scrimmage, but looked just as impressive while running with the ones for stretches on Saturday.

During 7-on-7 drills, Igbinosun made the only interception of the day for the Buckeye defense, picking off a Kyle McCord pass at the right hash mark over the middle of the field. Later on, Igbinosun broke up a downfield pass in tight one-on-one coverage on Tate against McCord and the first-team Ohio State offense during 11-on-11.

Igbinosun didn’t steal the show completely, as Denzel Burke, Jordan Hancock and Jyaire Brown all had PBUs of their own during the hour-and-a-half practice, and Brown also took some first-team reps along with Burke and Hancock. But considering the glowing reviews he’s gotten from the Buckeye coaching staff this spring, Saturday’s performance only bolstered Igbinosun's momentum early in his Ohio State tenure.

Marvin Harrison Jr.

It’s never a surprise when No. 18 makes an eye-popping play in scarlet and gray, but Harrison had a chance to show off a new wrinkle in his skill set on Saturday. Typically an outside playmaker at wide receiver, Harrison received reps out of the slot during the scrimmage as Emeka Egbuka (out for the spring) and Xavier Johnson were both unavailable.

And Harrison looked just as effective in the new position.

Day said at the start of the spring that the Buckeyes are looking for new ways to get the third-year star involved in the offense, and that point was nailed home on Saturday. Day also said learning multiple wide receiver positions will aid Harrison at the next level, where scouts and NFL personnel like to see just how versatile a top prospect is.

While it’s unclear how much time Harrison will actually see inside once Ohio State’s wide receiver corps gets healthy, the success he realized in the slot on Saturday proved it will be an option for the Buckeyes come fall.

“It's a whole different deal with him inside. And they have to, on defense, decide, how they want to double him,” Day said. “It also helps with his route tree. It's something that happens – with Jaxon, a lot of the NFL personnel would ask, 'How's he gonna do on the outside?' When Chris (Olave) was coming out, 'Do you have any plays with him in the slot?' So it's a good thing to help him and his progression and his development. It's something we want to do. But it also is something for the defense to consider. So we'll keep working on that and we just want to keep building on his route tree.”

Kyle McCord and Devin Brown

Much like last week, neither McCord nor Brown necessarily made a resounding statement during Saturday’s scrimmage. There was plenty of good and bad for both Buckeye quarterbacks, but they both seemed to deliver a more consistent level of play than the first scrimmage, when the offense struggled mightily to move the ball early on.

McCord edged out Brown with his late play in scrimmage No. 1, but on Saturday, things were a bit more even. Brown tossed three touchdowns in the Buckeyes’ red-zone pass drill, including back-to-back impressive passes to thread the needle to Kyion Grayes and Jelani Thurman in tight windows. McCord threw two scores during the period, finding Joe Royer and Gee Scott Jr. for touchdowns.

McCord threw the aforementioned interception and also fumbled one snap on a fake handoff out of the shotgun, but also completed several nice passes to the likes of Tate and Harrison. McCord found Noah Rogers for a 20-yard touchdown in the corner of the end zone late in the scrimmage.

Brown found Harrison for a deep connection down the sideline with the first-team offense on one of his better plays of the day, and also showed off his mobility to hit Tate while scrambling to his left to move the sticks late in practice. But Brown also suffered from some shaky snaps from second-team center Victor Cutler and was sacked on a number of occasions.

Day said he’ll have to watch the tape to come to a final conclusion on Saturday’s quarterback play, but thought McCord and Brown might have been holding the ball too long and doesn’t think either has truly separated himself from the other just yet.

“I'd like to see one of the two really step out. I don't think we've seen that yet," Day said. "But it would be nice to see one of them kind of separate from the other. But that takes a few practices in a row.”

Jelani Thurman

Thurman’s 6-foot-6, 253-pound frame alone jumps off the field as a freshman, but after making a couple of plays as a pass catcher in last week’s scrimmage, the first-year tight end was much more active on offense Saturday.

In Ohio State’s red-zone pass drill, Thurman pulled down a pass from Brown in double coverage in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. The four-star recruit continued to catch passes from both Brown and McCord for decent gains during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11, running with the second-team unit on offense.

Thurman showed off his physicality on a third-down reception in the latter half of practice in which he lowered his shoulder to seek contact against Hancock, although he didn’t move the sticks with the catch.

Ohio State already has several veteran tight ends ahead of Thurman on the depth chart with Cade Stover, Scott and Royer. But after practice, Day emphasized the Buckeyes’ desire to utilize 12 personnel in 2023, which could help open the door for Thurman to earn reps as a freshman.

Dallan Hayden and Chip Trayanum

While Day was pleased to see TreVeyon Henderson return to individual drills in practice on Saturday, neither he nor Miyan Williams took the field for scrimmage reps on Student Appreciation Day. That left Chip Trayanum and Dallan Hayden to split reps with the first- and second-team units on offense, and both had their moments.

The biggest play of the day for either running back was a 70-yard Trayanum touchdown run against Ohio State’s second-string defense in live 11-on-11 action, during which the Arizona State transfer showed off the blazing speed that many of his teammates raved about last season.

Hayden also had two first-down runs in a row late in practice as the second-year Buckeye tries to build momentum in Tony Alford’s stacked position room.

“They're out here every day, they're practicing, they're grinding and they're guys that you can count on. You see that today,” Day said. “Chip took a lot of reps right there and finished off the drive. And so he's put in a great offseason and he's healthy again and that's great. But he and Dallan ran really hard today, I thought it was good.”

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