Few Surprises on Ohio State’s Post-Spring Depth Chart
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Urban Meyer wasn’t leaving anything up to chance.
That’s why he waited until after his individual meetings with the Ohio State football players before releasing the first 2-deep depth chart of his head-coaching tenure in Columbus.
Meyer finally did unveil the post-spring depth chart on Wednesday, just before the start of his first press conference since the Scarlet and Gray Spring Game back in April. There were very few surprises on the depth chart, but one that did jump of the page was sophomore Doran Grant being listed as a co-starter at cornerback with senior Travis Howard.
Another surprise could be sophomore defensive lineman Michael Bennett, who was listed as the backup to Johnathan Hankins after playing with the first-team defense throughout most of the spring.
Junior Adam Bellamy was listed as the fourth starter on the defensive line, but Meyer was quick to call Bennett his most pleasant surprise of the spring on the defensive side of the ball.
“Michael Bennett was a surprise on defense," Meyer said Wednesday.
"He’s listed as a backup to Johnathan Hankins but that may not necessarily be the case in the fall. It’s hard for me to say that he isn’t one of the four best.”
On offense, Meyer picked center Corey Linsley as his most pleasant surprise. He said Linsley had been a “journeyman” before Meyer and his staff arrived, but completely turned himself around this off-season.
“Corey Linsley was a surprise on offense, but not really a surprise. I just hadn’t seen him play," Meyer said.
"But he is a journeyman-to-starter player. He has the potential to be a very good player. He is a very committed player.”
The two-deep lists true freshman Jacoby Boren as the backup to Linsley at center. Boren had shoulder surgery midway through spring practice to repair a torn labrum, but still found himself ahead of Brian Bobek coming out of spring ball.
The other four starters were as expected on the offensive line, but Meyer said true freshman Taylor Decker is right on the heals of senior Reid Fragel's heals at right tackle.
“He's in a dogfight for that position,” Meyer said of Fragel, who moved from tight end to offensive tackle this off-season.
Meyer said it was the addition of Decker, a 4-star prospect out of Vandalia Butler, which turned a nonfunctional offensive line into a functioning one during the spring. One position that is not functional yet, according to Meyer, is the wide receiver spot.
“The good news is there is some talent there,” Meyer said, “but this is probably most unprepared group I’ve ever had to deal with.”
Despite his breakout performance in the spring game, freshman Michael Thomas was listed as the backup to sophomore Devin Smith on the two-deep. The other starters were listed as Corey “Philly” Brown and Evan Spencer, who injured his shoulder towards the end of camp.
Behind Brown was Chris Fields, and behind Spencer was Verlon Reed, a starting wideout from a year ago who did not take part in team drills this spring because of a knee injury.
On defense, the Buckeyes are listing Nathan Williams as a co-starter with Bellamy at defensive end. Williams has started running in the pool and will begin dry-land running in June.
According to Meyer, defensive coordinator Luke Fickell thinks Williams could be their best defensive lineman in the fall if he’s healthy. Meyer also expects incoming freshman Noah Spence to compete for paying time at the Leo position. Right now, John Simon is listed as the starter, while Steve Miller and J.T. Moore are listed as co-backups.
Sophomore Curtis Grant held on to the top spot at middle linebacker, despite an injury late in camp. He is just ahead of senior Storm Klein, while both Luke Roberts and Connor Crowell are listed as backups to Ryan Shazier at the Will linebacker spot.
In the secondary, Bradley Roby is listed as the starter across from Howard/Grant, while C.J. Barnett and Christian Bryant occupy the top spots at safety. Senior Orhian Johnson and junior Corey Brown are listed as the backups.
Meyer said he expects Jordan Hall and Devin Smith to be his primary return men to start fall camp. Hall was listed as the No. 1 running back, ahead of Carlos Hyde. Rod Smith and Bri’onte Dunn did not appear on the two-deep, and Meyer doesn’t expect many players who weren’t on the list to make an impact in the fall.
“I would have put him on there,” Meyer said.
Two other freshmen who could get a chance to compete in the fall are linebackers David Perkins and Jamal Marcus. Camren Williams could also be in the mix and Meyer called offensive tackle Kyle Dodson an intriguing prospect.
“Especially after the way Decker worked his way into the mix so quickly this spring,” he said.