5 Position Battles to Watch at Ohio State Football Spring Practice
Five Position Battles to Watch at Buckeyes Spring Practice
As quickly as it ended, it has returned.
It seems like just yesterday we witnessed the instant classic between Auburn and Florida State in the BCS National Championship Game. Coincidentally, it also feels like just yesterday the Ohio State Buckeyes lost to the Clemson Tigers in a classic Orange Bowl showdown.
Thankfully, the 2014 season is right around the corner. Soon, the Scarlet and Gray will be taking to the practice field to begin spring football. It’s an exciting time of year for fans, coaches, players and media. Everyone gets a good look at the talent they have, and don’t have.
For the upperclassmen, this is a time to continue rehabbing nagging injuries. For example, don’t expect to see Braxton Miller much as he’ll be recovering from shoulder surgery. On the other hand, this is a chance for underclassmen to grow and stake their claim on the team. It also gives the coaches a chance to gauge where they are talent-wise, and it can help them adjust their recruiting plan.
Spring football brings with it intriguing position battles for every college football team. As players graduate and leave early for the NFL, they leave voids that must be filled. Spring football is the first opportunity for someone to steal that vacant position. Ohio State has several openings on the depth chart that need to find a somewhat permanent fix.
On the following slides, you’ll find five position battles to watching in spring practice for the Ohio State Buckeyes. Offense and defense, there are holes to be filled and there are several players that could fill them. The battles will be fierce, fun to watch and plenty of talented players have a chance.
5. Running Back
Carlos Hyde has moved on and he leaves behind him a slue of running backs capable of taking his spot. Whoever is the successor, he’ll be replacing one of the Buckeyes’ best running backs in the past decade. Ezekiel Elliot, Bri’onte Dunn, Rod Smith and Dontre Wilson are names to watch this spring at running back. Expect a running back by committee in the spring, and don’t be too surprised if we see the same this fall.
4. Backup Quarterback
Braxton Miller is going to be the starting quarterback, but we’ve seen on several occasions that the Buckeyes are only as good as their backup. Kenny Guiton has graduated, which means Meyer needs to find a new number two. Since Miller recently underwent minor surgery on his right shoulder, he’ll be limited in camp. You can expect the backup battle to take center stage.
Enter Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett. Both have been tabbed by many to compete for the backup job, both are good enough to win it. Jones and Barrett are athletic dual-threat quarterbacks, so it should it be interesting to see who wins out in the end. Jones enters with the upper hand as he appeared in three games last season.
The defensive secondary, while individually good, was collectively weak for Ohio State. They’ve lost Bradley Roby to the NFL, so they need to find a way to fill that void. On one side they’ll have Doran Grant, on the other, a vacancy. Armani Reeves and Eli Apple are two names you need to watch out for in spring practice to steal that job.
2. Offensive Line
The Buckeyes have quite a tall task ahead of them. They’ve got to replace four of the five offensive linemen that paved the way for the Big Ten’s most explosive offense last season. They return left tackle Taylor Decker, which is good, but nobody else, which is bad.
On the bright side, Ohio State has a plethora of talented players to step up, but they’re young. Expect to see many different line combinations this spring as guys will certainly move from position to position. The battle should be a good one, but having so many options also means that reps will be a premium.
1. Inside Linebacker
Possibly the biggest hole created in this team over the offseason, the Buckeyes need to find a way to replace Ryan Shazier, if that’s even possible. Shazier is off to the NFL and with that, he takes basically any and all leadership on defense. Meyer isn’t opposed to playing freshman, so Raekwon McMillan, who enrolled early to attend spring ball, is a likely option. You should also keep an eye on Sam Hubbard, Kyle Berger and Dante Booker.
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