Last season, 14 different Buckeyes on the offensive side of the ball scored touchdowns. That’s the most since that same number did it in 2013.
Of those 14, 11 are back, and there are another dozen players looking for their first steps into the end zone this year as well.
There are, of course, 100 yards separating end zones, and plenty goes on between them. In fact, that’s where the vast majority of plays are made.
Last year, 12 Buckeyes had plays of at least 30 yards from scrimmage. Two of them — quarterback J.T. Barrett and tight end Marcus Baugh — are gone. The rest return, and that doesn’t even include leading pass catcher K.J. Hill, whose longest catch of the season was just 29 yards.
To put it another way, there are a ton of playmakers on this roster, and the number is only growing.
As we do every year around this time, we rank the playmakers and try to get as close to the coaching staff’s own list, which they use to dictate who should get the ball and who can wait a year.
The rankings begin now, but they will start with the baker’s dozen sitting on the outside of the Top 10.
23. Jake Hausmann, TE rSoph
When he signed, Jake Hausmann was one of the top tight end prospects in the 2016 class. He was close to playing, but it never happened. He only played in a few games last season. Hausmann had a solid summer, but expecting big plays from possibly the fourth tight end on the depth chart is a stretch.
22. L’Christian “Blue” Smith, WR Fr
Blue Smith had a fantastic summer on the 7-on-7 circuit a year ago, so it will be interesting to see how he does in 11-on-11 as a true freshman. At 6-foot-4 and 207 pounds, Smith is a big target who could emerge in the red zone.
21. Chris Olave, WR Fr
If you watch Chris Olave’s high school highlights, they will remind you of Devin Smith’s. That’s a lot to put on a true freshman, and it’s not going to happen this year, but it is something to keep in mind.
20. Ellijah Gardiner, WR rFr
Ellijah Gardiner redshirted last season as he developed into a collegiate wideout. We will get to see what he learned last year and how he has put that into action this year. He is a big target at 6-foot-3 and 196 pounds, but came to OSU with plenty of speed to burn. He could move up this list with his measurables.
19. Jaelen Gill, HB Fr
Parris Campbell said recently that Jaelen Gill has a ways to go because of how young he is, but there is no doubting his physical attributes. He just happens to be playing the deepest position on the team, which is going to make it difficult to get him too many touches this season. Gill needs to continue getting stronger, but his time will come, and the big plays will come with him. It just may not be this year.
18. Jeremy Ruckert, TE Fr
Asking for big plays out of your tight end isn’t something that most teams can do. The Buckeyes feel like they will be able to do that with Jeremy Ruckert.
17. Rashod Berry, TE rJr
We saw what happened last year when Rashod Berry had the football in his hands. Unfortunately, we also saw a fumble on the goal line. Berry spent the offseason improving on his consistency, and now with Jeremy Ruckert in town, playing time isn’t going to be guaranteed.
16. Jaylen Harris, WR Soph
Jaylen Harris has as much potential as anybody in Ohio State’s receivers’ room, but consistency in effort and precision is still a work in progress. Just a sophomore, he’s no different than anybody else his age in that regard, however. He has the size (6-5 215) to be a mismatch against anybody. Can he become more than just a chain mover this year, though? (As if that would be so bad?)
15. Brian Snead, RB Fr
Brian Snead may be the Buckeyes’ biggest beneficiary of the new redshirt rule. There are some who believe that once Snead is given a chance to show what he can do, he will continue to get more and more opportunities throughout the season. He is an explosive and relentless runner.
14. Master Teague, RB Fr
Enrolled early and going through spring football, Master Teague has a leg up on Brian Snead in the depth chart. Nothing we saw in the spring has indicated he will give up that gap very easily. Teague is a combine marvel and has the speed to break huge runs on any given carry. Don’t be surprised when he has a few 30-yard runs this season in just a handful of carries.
13. C.J. Saunders, HB rJr
Last season, C.J. Saunders was a former cornerback walk-on who managed to impress well enough to catch 17 passes for 221 yards and a touchdown. He was one of just three receivers on the team last year with a 100-yard receiving game. Parris Campbell says Saunders would start anywhere else. Snaps are tough to find here, but Saunders — who is now on scholarship — has been able to do it here and there.
12. Tate Martell, QB rFr
It has already been said that if Tate Martell is one of the team’s best playmakers, then he has to play, regardless of his status as the backup quarterback. Martell is the most explosive Buckeye quarterback on the run since Braxton Miller, so that’s saying something.
11. Luke Farrell, TE rSo
As Ohio State’s top tight end, Luke Farrell is going to be involved in the passing game this year, which makes him one of the top playmakers in this OSU offense. In the Buckeyes two best passing offenses under Urban Meyer, the starting tight end has caught at least five touchdown passes. There is a scenario where Farrell could be looking at over a half-dozen touchdowns and upwards of 30 receptions of all manners this season.