The Buckeye 20: Ranking Ohio State’s Top 20 Players Entering the 2023 Season

By Dan Hope on September 1, 2023 at 12:35 pm
Marvin Harrison Jr. checks in at No. 1 in the first Buckeye 20 of 2023

The Buckeye 20 is Eleven Warriors’ new running ranking of the Ohio State football team’s top 20 players.

Over the course of the 2023 season and beyond, Eleven Warriors will rank the 20 most impactful players currently playing for the Buckeyes. With the 2023 opener on Saturday, we’ve compiled our initial rankings of Ohio State’s 20 best players before the new season.

We will update the rankings after every month of the regular season. The first update will come in the final week of September following the Buckeyes’ first four games against Indiana, Youngstown State, Western Kentucky and Notre Dame. The rankings will be updated again after Ohio State’s four October games (Maryland, Purdue, Penn State and Wisconsin) and likewise after Ohio State’s four November games (Rutgers, Michigan State, Minnesota and Michigan). Our final rankings for the 2023 season will be released in the week after the Buckeyes conclude postseason play, while our initial rankings for the 2024 season will be compiled prior to the start of next year’s spring practices.

The most recent set of rankings will always be available on our new Buckeye 20 page, and we’ll publish a new article highlighting who moved up or down or in or out of the rankings with each update.

To compile these rankings, every member of the Eleven Warriors staff submitted a ballot with their own individual rankings of Ohio State’s top 20 players. Those rankings were then tallied up with each first-place vote being worth 20 points down to each 20th-place vote being worth one point to tabulate the staffwide top-20 rankings.

Our initial Buckeye 20 rankings for the 2023 season can be found below with a writeup on why each player landed where he did within the top 20. Below the rankings, we’ve also highlighted the other players who received at least 10 voting points as the top honorable mentions who missed the cut.

1. Marvin Harrison Jr., WR

The best wide receiver in college football, Harrison was our staff’s unanimous choice as Ohio State’s best player. A unanimous All-American in 2022, Harrison is the true prototype for his position, possessing every trait a team wants in a No. 1 receiver and forcing every opposing defense to game plan around him.

2. Emeka Egbuka, WR

Egbuka would be the No. 1 wide receiver on any other team in college football. A 1,151-yard, 10-touchdown receiver in 2022, Egbuka’s combination of open-field agility, speed, size and toughness makes him one of the nation’s most dangerous playmakers whether he’s catching a pass downfield, getting the ball in the backfield on a running play or returning a punt.

3. Tommy Eichenberg, LB

Eichenberg was Ohio State’s defensive MVP in 2022, becoming the first Buckeye in eight years to record 120 tackles in a season. The instinctive second-time captain is one of the nation’s best middle linebackers and will be the leader of Ohio State’s defense once again.

4. JT Tuimoloau, DE

Tuimoloau was Ohio State’s most productive defensive lineman in 2022 and showed the ability to take a game over, specifically in his two-sack, two-interception performance against Penn State. He’s Ohio State’s most talented defensive end since Chase Young and can be an All-American if he plays at that level on a consistent basis.

5. TreVeyon Henderson, RB

As long as he returns to his pre-injury form, Henderson will be one of the most explosive running backs in the country. His elite speed and cutting ability make him a threat to turn any play into a big play, and he’ll be a key piece of an Ohio State offense that’s breaking in a new quarterback.

TreVeyon Henderson
TreVeyon Henderson ranks as Ohio State’s fifth-best player entering the 2023 season.

6. Donovan Jackson, LG

A first-team All-Big Ten guard as a first-year starter in 2022, Jackson is both a mauling run blocker and a stalwart pass blocker. The long, athletic and powerful left guard is the clear star and leader of Ohio State’s offensive line entering 2023.

7. Mike Hall, DT

Hall was as disruptive as any defensive tackle in college football through the first half of last season, recording 7.5 tackles for loss in Ohio State’s first six games. A shoulder injury limited Hall’s impact the rest of the way, but “Baby Aaron Donald” has the burst and power to be dominant all year long as long as he stays healthy.

8. Denzel Burke, CB

An injury-plagued start to the year stained Burke’s sophomore season, but he’s shown he can be both a lockdown cover cornerback and a physical run defender when he’s at his best. He’s impressed coaches and teammates with his form all offseason and looks poised to establish himself as one of the Big Ten’s best defensive backs.

9. Miyan Williams, RB

The thunder to Henderson’s lightning, Williams led Ohio State with 825 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns last season and should play in heavy rotation again this year. A big, powerful runner at 5-foot-9 and 226 pounds, Williams also has plenty of wiggle, making him a tough tackle for any defender.

10. Steele Chambers, LB

A staple of Ohio State’s defense since the second half of 2021, Chambers is both an explosive downhill attacker and an adept coverage linebacker. He’s recorded 124 tackles over the course of his first two seasons playing linebacker at Ohio State and pairs with Eichenberg to give Jim Knowles a trusty pair of veterans in the middle of his defense.

11. Matt Jones, RG

A sixth-year senior, Jones has played more snaps in an Ohio State uniform (1,508) than any other player on the roster and earned second-team All-Big Ten honors last year in his first full season as a starter. Reliable as both a pass and run blocker, Jones brings some much-needed stability to Ohio State’s offensive line with his return for another year.

12. Jack Sawyer, DE

Sawyer’s move back to playing full-time defensive end is expected to unlock his potential, and he certainly has a lot of it as the No. 5 overall prospect in the 2021 recruiting class. He tied for the team lead with 4.5 sacks in 2022 despite coming off the bench and playing out of position as a Jack linebacker, and he has the quickness, strength and hand skill to be a breakout star as a first-year starter.

13. Lathan Ransom, S

Ransom found a home last season at the bandit/strong safety position and became a Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist as one of college football’s best defensive backs. Both an aggressive hitter and a fluid athlete, Ransom looks poised to bounce back from his struggles at the end of last season and lead Ohio State’s 2023 secondary as its only returning starter at safety.

14. Sonny Styles, S

The highest-ranked player in the initial Buckeye 20 who hasn’t yet started a game for Ohio State, Styles enters the 2023 season with as much hype as any Buckeye defender after earning the starting nickel safety job. Coupling the athleticism of a cornerback with the size of a linebacker, Styles has the versatility to line up all over the field and be a difference-maker on any down.

15. Kyle McCord, QB

McCord will look to continue Ohio State’s elite run of quarterback play after fending off Devin Brown to be the Buckeyes’ Week 1 starter. He’s unproven, but he’s also a five-star recruit who has the arm talent to be OSU’s next first-round NFL draft prospect behind center if he proves he can consistently throw the ball with accuracy and make the right reads.

Kyle McCord
Kyle McCord debuts at No. 15 in The Buckeye 20 after earning the starting quarterback job for the season opener.

16. Cade Stover, TE

Stover had the most productive receiving season for an Ohio State tight end in nine years by catching 36 passes for 406 yards and five touchdowns in 2022. His pass-catching and blocking were both somewhat inconsistent last season, but he’s shown he can be a significant asset in both areas when he’s at his best.

17. Josh Simmons, LT

The San Diego State transfer has drawn rave reviews for his athleticism and impressed coaches even more than they expected since arriving at Ohio State. He’s never played left tackle collegiately and struggled with penalties at SDSU, making him an unproven commodity at a position where reliability is key, but his upside as both a pass protector and run blocker is high.

18. Julian Fleming, WR

Fleming began showing why he was once the No. 3 overall prospect in his recruiting class as he caught 34 passes for 533 yards and six touchdowns as a first-year starter in 2022. He’s one of the most physically gifted players on the team but has to prove he can stay healthy for a full season and make plays on a consistent basis after battling injuries throughout his first three years in Columbus.

19. Josh Fryar, RT

The sixth man on Ohio State’s offensive line in 2022, Fryar held off a challenge from Luke Montgomery to win the starting right tackle job and is hungry to prove he can be a dependable every-down starter for the Buckeyes. He performed well in spot duty as a run blocker last season but is largely untested as a pass protector on the edge versus top competition.

20. Davison Igbinosun, CB

A 10-game starter at Ole Miss in 2022, Igbinosun is expected to make an immediate impact in the cornerback rotation after transferring to Ohio State. A physical cornerback who oozes confidence on and off the field, Igbinosun brings great length to the position at 6-foot-2 and should help the Buckeyes in both coverage and run support.

Honorable Mentions

21. Ja’Had Carter, S
22. C.J. Hicks, LB
23. Ty Hamilton, DT
24. Jordan Hancock, CB
25. Carnell Tate, WR
26. Josh Proctor, S
27. Kenyatta Jackson Jr., DE
27. Xavier Johnson, WR/RB
29. Devin Brown, QB
29. Carson Hinzman, C

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