As I always say, one of the best things about college football is that new stars emerge every year.
Just think — a year ago at this time, you had never even heard of Dwayne Haskins.
Okay, maybe that’s a bad example, but Haskins is an example of an Ohio State Buckeye earning a First-Team All-Big Ten nod in his first season as a starter.
In fact, a new OSU starter has been named all conference every year since 2012, which also happened to encapsulate Urban Meyer’s entire run.
Here’s the list.
2012: Ryan Shazier
2013: Noah Spence
2014: JT Barrett, Pat Elflein
2015: Raekwon McMillan
2016: Curtis Samuel, Malik Hooker, Marshon Lattimore
2017: Nick Bosa
2018: Dwayne Haskins
Yes, considering Nick Bosa here may be cheating because he was definitely playing starter’s minutes as a freshman in 2016, but since I am not including Denzel Ward in 2017 because he was part of the 2016 rotation, let’s call it even.
The point is that Urban Meyer almost always had players waiting in the wings to step up and be one of the two or three best players in the conference at his respective position.
The question now becomes whether or not Ryan Day can continue this trend.
Looking at the players preparing to step into new roles, there isn’t exactly a shortage of possibilities.
With Day’s offense, we should first consider the quarterback, whoever that may be.
It is probable that either Justin Fields or Matthew Baldwin will be putting up 4,000 yards of total offense, which is a number that maybe only Nebraska’s Adrian Martinez may approach.
There is also Chris Olave, if we can still consider him a new starter. Stepping in at the Z position this season, he could be readying for many frequent trips into the end zone. He certainly flashed enough as a freshman to make you think there is plenty more to come. Olave may be splitting too many reps to put up the numbers, however.
Also, KJ Hill doesn’t count even though he only has a few starts in his career. The 6-man rotation at receiver makes all six receivers starters in the coaches’ eyes.
The Buckeyes are also replacing four starters on the offensive line, so there will be possibilities like Josh Myers at center, Wyatt Davis at guard, Branden Bowen wherever, and either Joshua Alabi or Nicholas Petit-Frere as well.
Defensively, things will get interesting. If a new starting linebacker emerges, then keep an eye on him to earn some notice.
If the Buckeyes move to a 4-2-5 and Brendon White moves down to a hybrid linebacker, would I be able to count that since he is starting a new position?
I think the entirety of Buckeye Nation expects Shaun Wade to play well enough to earn some accolades this season as well. We don’t need to put Jeff Okudah here because he was already part of the 3-man rotation last season.
Then you’ve also got whoever replaces Dre’Mont Jones. Both Haskell Garrett and Taron Vincent are talented, and they are going to get many more snaps than they ever did before.
There are a good number of names to consider as possibilities, but for me, the most likely player here is either Justin Fields or Matthew Baldwin, and like Ryan Day, I’m not ready to name a starting quarterback yet.
(But also keep an eye on that offensive line.)