Ohio State Depth Chart: Updated Projection of Buckeyes’ 2024 Three-Deep After Spring Practices, Post-Spring Transfer Movement

By Dan Hope on May 24, 2024 at 8:35 am
TreVeyon Henderson taking a handoff from Will Howard

Now that Ohio State’s roster for the 2024 season appears to be set, we have a better idea of what the Buckeyes’ depth chart could look like this year.

While Ohio State still has four scholarships available for potential additions, there’s been no indication that the Buckeyes are likely to add any more transfers this year. With summer workouts now underway in Columbus, the Buckeyes’ focus has shifted back toward the continued development of the players they already have.

First and foremost, Ohio State needs to figure out who its starters will be at every position this year. While many of the Buckeyes’ starters appear set coming out of spring, several positions remain up for grabs, most notably at quarterback, right guard and Will linebacker.

That said, it’s also more important than it’s ever been before for the Buckeyes to have multiple backups they can count on at each position. As a team with national championship aspirations, Ohio State is preparing for the possibility of playing as many as 17 games this season, putting an increased emphasis on building depth this offseason.

“We're trying to build three-deep at each position,” Ryan Day said this spring. “We used to say a pair and a spare, now we need three at each position. So we need to build depth at all positions.”

With that in mind, our updated post-spring depth chart projection for Ohio State takes a look at who could fill out the top three rows of the depth chart at every position. The projection, which is intended to forecast what the depth chart will look like when the Buckeyes take the field for their Aug. 31 season opener against Akron 99 days from today, was assembled based on what we saw and heard this spring as well as my forecasts for which players could make a push up the depth chart in preseason camp.


1. Will Howard
2. Devin Brown
3. Julian Sayin

Howard has been the frontrunner to start for Ohio State this year since he transferred to the Buckeyes from Kansas State in January, but the starting quarterback job remains open for competition entering preseason camp. Brown performed well enough this spring to keep himself in contention for the job while Howard didn’t perform well enough this spring to lock down the top spot on the depth chart.

Even so, I’m keeping Howard at the top of my depth chart projection entering summer workouts as I believe Ohio State is still preparing for the likelihood of Howard starting this season.

Sayin might be the most gifted passer on the roster and made some noise this spring as an early enrollee, but Ohio State’s top two quarterbacks to start the season are likely to be Howard and Brown in one order or the other. Sayin’s strong start to his first offseason as a Buckeye puts him in good position to be OSU’s No. 3 quarterback, though redshirt freshman Lincoln Kienholz is also in the mix for that spot.

Running Back

1. TreVeyon Henderson
2. Quinshon Judkins
3. James Peoples

Henderson gets the nod for the top spot on the depth chart as the returning starter, but Henderson and Judkins will very likely function as co-starters. As two of the best running backs in the country, both of them will play massive roles in Ohio State’s offense this season while splitting the workload with one another.

Dallan Hayden’s transfer to Colorado opens the door for Peoples to be the next man up behind them. Fellow freshman Sam Williams-Dixon and walk-on TC Caffey will also provide depth at running back, but Peoples is likely the best option among them to handle a significant share of carries should that be necessary.

Wide Receiver (Slot)

1. Emeka Egbuka
2. Brandon Inniss
3. Bryson Rodgers

Wide Receiver (X)

1. Jeremiah Smith
2. Jayden Ballard
3. Kojo Antwi

Wide Receiver (Z)

1. Carnell Tate
2. Mylan Graham
3. David Adolph

Smith’s outstanding first spring as a Buckeye positions him to be an immediate starter at wide receiver alongside Egbuka and Tate. That will likely keep Egbuka in the slot primarily this season, though he’s expected to move around more as Inniss is also expected to see substantial playing time at slot receiver even if he doesn’t start.

Those four receivers are likely to play most of the snaps this season. Ballard projects to be the next man up behind them. Graham isn’t likely to play a major role as a freshman since he didn’t enroll early, but his five-star talent still makes him a strong candidate to earn a spot on the two-deep. Rodgers could also be the fifth or sixth man up at receiver, though he’s expected to play primarily in the slot like Egbuka and Inniss.

Antwi is the only other wide receiver currently on scholarship, opening up a spot for Adolph or another walk-on to earn a spot on the three-deep. Damarion Witten could also be a candidate for that spot if the incoming freshman ends up starting his career at receiver rather than tight end.

Tight End

1. Gee Scott Jr.
2. Jelani Thurman
3. Will Kacmarek

All indications this spring were that Scott is in line to be Ohio State’s starting tight end this season after serving as Cade Stover’s top backup last season.

The rest of the depth chart behind Scott is more uncertain. Kacmarek is the most proven blocker of the group, but Thurman has huge upside that should lead to a significant role if he shows he’s ready to handle the blocking responsibilities of the position. Walk-on Patrick Gurd is a legitimate candidate for a spot on the three-deep, too, after he showed his mettle as a blocker in occasional action with the starters in 2023.

Left Tackle

1. Josh Simmons
2. Zen Michalski
3. Deontae Armstrong

Left Guard

1. Donovan Jackson
2. Austin Siereveld
3. Devontae Armstrong


1. Seth McLaughlin
2. Carson Hinzman
3. Joshua Padilla

Right Guard

1. Tegra Tshabola
2. Luke Montgomery
3. Toby Wilson

Right Tackle

1. Josh Fryar
2. George Fitzpatrick
3. Ian Moore

Right guard is the biggest position of uncertainty on Ohio State’s depth chart entering the summer. No one locked down the starting job there this spring, but Hinzman, Tshabola and Montgomery all saw first-team work at the position during the year’s first 15 practices and will continue to compete for the job in preseason camp. As Montgomery saw a decrease in first-team work over the course of the spring, the battle could come down to Tshabola vs. Hinzman; Tshabola gets the slight nod here based on his performance late in the spring after spending most of the spring at right tackle.

Hinzman could also push McLaughlin for the starting center job after holding that job for Ohio State during last year’s regular season, but the Alabama transfer remains the frontrunner to snap the ball this year. Jackson, Simmons and Fryar are all expected to retain their starting jobs from last season as OSU did not bring in a transfer tackle to push Fryar at RT.

Whoever doesn’t win the right guard competition could be the offensive line’s top two backups as Hinzman can play both center and guard while Tshabola and Montgomery can play both guard and tackle. Siereveld, Fitzpatrick and Michalski are the leading candidates to round out the offensive line two-deep, with Padilla also being a candidate for the backup center spot if Hinzman ends up starting at RG.

The Armstrongs and Moore are likely to start their careers as third-team offensive linemen while Wilson could have a leg up for the final spot on the three-deep since incoming freshman Gabe VanSickle didn’t enroll early.

Tegra Tshabola
Tegra Tshabola looks to earn the starting right guard job in preseason camp as his competition with Carson Hinzman and Luke Montgomery continues.

Defensive End

1. Jack Sawyer
2. Caden Curry
3. Mitchell Melton

Defensive End

1. JT Tuimoloau
2. Kenyatta Jackson Jr.
3. Eddrick Houston

The defensive end depth chart is one of the most clear-cut on the entire roster. Sawyer and Tuimoloau return as perhaps the best starting tandem of defensive ends in the country while Curry and Jackson give the Buckeyes a strong pair of second-stringers who would likely be starting for most other college football teams this year.

That said, Melton also made a strong case for playing time in the defensive end rotation with his performance this spring while Houston’s five-star recruiting pedigree makes him a freshman to watch, giving Ohio State an excellent three-deep at this position.

Defensive Tackle (3-Tech)

1. Tyleik Williams
2. Hero Kanu
3. Jason Moore

Defensive Tackle (Nose)

1. Ty Hamilton
2. Kayden McDonald
3. Tywone Malone

Williams and Hamilton are both sure-fire starters. Kanu should be in line to see more action in the rotation this year after flashing in limited action last year. McDonald is the truest nose tackle on the roster and also made a strong case for increased playing time in 2024 with his performance in spot duty a year ago.

Moore also made a real push for a spot on the two-deep with his performance this spring, but he slots in as the fifth defensive tackle in the rotation for now. Malone will look to earn a bigger role this season after playing only sparingly in his first year at Ohio State, but he appears unlikely to be higher than the third row of the depth chart as of now.

Will Linebacker

1. C.J. Hicks
2. Sonny Styles
3. Garrett Stover

Mike Linebacker

1. Cody Simon
2. Arvell Reese
3. Gabe Powers

The Will linebacker competition between Hicks and Styles remains too close to call coming out of spring, but Hicks might have the slight edge after getting the starting nod in the spring game. Both are likely to have a role in this year’s defense either way, but Hicks’ multiple years of experience learning the linebacker position in Jim Knowles’ scheme could give him an advantage in the base defense. Styles’ experience playing safety gives him the potential to be a valuable and versatile package player at his new position.

Simon is set to lead the linebacker unit from the Mike position as its most experienced player. Powers and Reese are both candidates to round out the two-deep behind Simon, but the way coaches have talked up Reese all offseason leads me to believe they will have a hard time keeping him out of the two-deep.

Stover is the frontrunner to round out the three-deep as the only other scholarship linebacker who went through spring practices, which Payton Pierce and Kourt Williams missed due to injuries.

C.J. Hicks
C.J. Hicks made a strong push for a starting job this spring after playing only occasionally in his first two seasons as a Buckeye.

Outside Cornerback

1. Denzel Burke
2. Jermaine Mathews Jr.
3. Aaron Scott Jr.

Outside Cornerback

1. Davison Igbinosun
2. Calvin Simpson-Hunt
3. Bryce West

Slot Cornerback

1. Jordan Hancock
2. Lorenzo Styles Jr.
3. Miles Lockhart

Burke, Igbinosun and Hancock are all locked in as starters after excelling as Ohio State’s top three cornerbacks last season. Mathews could be the next man up behind them both outside and in the slot after practicing at both positions this spring, though Styles is also a strong candidate to be second in line at nickel.

Simpson-Hunt looks ready to lock down a spot on the two-deep as a redshirt freshman, which means Scott, West and Lockhart are all likely to begin their careers as third-stringers.

Free Safety

1. Caleb Downs
2. Malik Hartford
3. Jaylen McClain

Strong Safety

1. Lathan Ransom
2. Keenan Nelson Jr.
3. Jayden Bonsu

With Downs and Ransom locked in as the starting safeties, Nelson – the only post-spring scholarship transfer addition for the Buckeyes – is likely to slot in as a second-stringer alongside Hartford to start his Ohio State career. 

Bonsu and McClain project to round out the three-deep after both saw extensive work this spring while Hartford and Ransom were sidelined by injuries.


1. Jayden Fielding
2. Casey Magyar
3. Austin Snyder

Fielding is expected to retain his job as Ohio State’s kicker after making 80% of his field goals in his first season as the starter. Magyar looks to be his backup, as he also saw action in the spring game, while Snyder is the only other kicker on the roster.


1. Anthony Venneri
2. Nick McLarty
3. Joe McGuire

The punting competition will ramp up in preseason camp after Venneri and McLarty arrive on campus this summer. 

While McGuire looked like the potential successor to Jesse Mirco when Mirco entered the transfer portal in December, Venneri and McLarty are likely the top contenders for the job now given that Venneri has two years of FBS punting experience at Buffalo while McLarty is joining Ohio State as a scholarship player. Venneri projects as the favorite for the job after breaking Buffalo’s school record for single-season punting average two years in a row.

Long Snapper

1. John Ferlmann
2. Morrow Evans
3. Max Lomonico

Ferlmann returns as Ohio State’s starting long snapper after providing steady play in that role in 2023. Evans, the No. 1 long snapper in the 2024 recruiting class per 247Sports, will start as Ferlmann’s backup while developing to be the Buckeyes’ snapper of the future.

Kick Returner

1. Lorenzo Styles Jr.
2. Mylan Graham
3. Sam Williams-Dixon

There weren’t any clear indications this spring of who Ohio State was eyeing to be its new kickoff returner this season, so I’m just guessing on this one. Styles saw occasional work as a returner during his two years as a Notre Dame wide receiver, and this could be a way to get him more involved on special teams since he’ll likely have to wait another year to play a major role on defense.

Graham and Williams-Dixon were both effective returners at the high school level who have the speed and agility to remain dynamic in that role at the collegiate level, so both of them are intriguing options if Ohio State is comfortable turning to a freshman to return kicks. Other kick returner candidates include Carnell Tate – though OSU might prefer not to use a starting receiver in that capacity – and recently added walk-on transfer Shawn Lodge, who had 36 returns for 524 yards in two seasons at Presbyterian.

Punt Returner

1. Brandon Inniss
2. Emeka Egbuka
3. Jayden Ballard

Egbuka led the punt returner line this spring after handling those duties for most of the last two seasons, but Ohio State has reason to consider handing that job off to someone new as Egbuka becomes the leader of OSU’s receiver room following an injury-plagued 2023 season. Inniss seems like the most logical candidate to do so, as OSU’s punt returners in recent years have often been slot receivers and he has both the hands and athleticism needed to be a weapon in that capacity.

Ballard is another candidate to return punts after taking over that role for most of the second half of last season, though he never looked fully comfortable in that role. Caleb Downs could also be a weapon on punt returns after returning one for an 85-yard touchdown last season at Alabama, but he was not among the players who regularly fielded punts during practices this spring, suggesting that he will be focusing on defense for the Buckeyes.

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