Top Offensive Position Battles of Camp
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — It has been a spirited fall camp thus far for Ohio State and first-year Head Coach Luke Fickell.
Per Fickell’s orders, the Buckeyes are using football as much-needed therapy for a punishing off-season, and it has led to some pretty entertaining positions battles this fall.
As expected, all eyes are glued to the quarterback position as four players vie to replace Terrelle Pryor, but there’s plenty of action happening on both sides of the ball.
We start with the offensive position battles to watch throughout the rest of camp.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Front Runner: Joe Bauserman
After Tuesday’s practice there is an actual chance that Bauserman will get more than just an obligatory start in the season-opener against Akron. It’s important not to overvalue the importance of one practice, but if Bauserman can show that type of command and confidence the rest of camp, he could actually hold on to the top spot.
Challenger: Braxton Miller
Considering how far Miller has come in less than week, it’s scary to think what he could do before the end of camp. He is playing with a lot of poise and confidence for a young kid and that could carry him to the top. Right now he is slightly behind Bauserman in the quarterback battle, and it’s feasible they could play both of them.
Dark Horse: Kenny Guiton
Despite what Fickell says about the new rotation being a way to test all four quarterbacks, it is clear that Guiton and Taylor Graham haven fallen behind the other two. The fact Guiton is now behind a true freshman who has only been on campus since January doesn’t look good, but it’s too early to rule him out of it completely.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Front Runner: Jaamal Berry
Let’s assume for a moment that Jordan Hall is going to be involved in a little bit of everything the Buckeyes do offensively. That leaves Berry as the top candidate to replace Boom Herron as the true feature back for the at least the first five games of the season. Berry is small and quick like Hall, but he is also explosively powerful and looks like he could handle the load of carrying the ball 20 times a game.
Challenger: Carlos Hyde
There may not be a back on the roster who is asked to carry the ball 20 times per game, but that might change if Hyde continues to run the way he has as of late. A powerful back with a violent running style, Hyde has also added speed to his arsenal and he is making a move for the top spot.
Dark Horse: Rod Smith
Some recruitniks might be surprised to see Smith make the list as a dark horse rather than a front-runner, but the redshirt freshman just hasn’t shown enough consistently to make a push. He is big and strong with good speed and an unusually elusive running style for back who is 6-3 an 230 pounds. The only thing holding him back, other than the guys in front of him, is his understanding of the offense and his knowledge of what it takes to pick up consistent chunks of yardage.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Front Runner: Verlon Reed
What an off-season it has been for the redshirt freshman out of Marion Franklin. After coming into the spring as a complete outsider at the receiver position, Reed is in position to start the season as a starter across from Corey Brown. He is big and physical, but also deceptively fast and he has really embraced the role with DeVier Posey set to miss five games.
Challenger: T.Y. Williams
Contrarily, it hasn’t been a great fall for Williams, but the Cleveland native is still in the hunt simply because of his unusual size. He has good speed and he’s learning to get in and out of his cuts, but the dropped passes are hard to overcome.
Dark Horse: Devin Smith
It is getting to the point where it’s only a matter of ‘where’ Smith is going to play this fall, not ‘if.’ The true freshman out of Massillon has been a student of the game since his arrival back in June and it is paying off. He is already making veteran plays and his hands and toughness will likely keep him in the mix all season.
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