10 Practice Predictions

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Last updated: 03/04/2014 5:43 AM
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Ten Spring Practice Predictions for Ohio State
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS, Ohio — As you are now fully aware, Spring Football gets started today, which makes this the perfect time to throw out some Ohio State spring practice predictions.

As is my custom, incorrect predictions will never be mentioned again because it's rude to point out mistakes made by players that ended up making my predictions incorrect. I'm bigger than that, and you should be too.

I'm not going to guarantee that all of these predictions will come true, but you'd have to think with 10 guesses, I'd get lucky at least a couple of times.

Which of these sounds most likely to you? You got any others?

1. You will hear Darron Lee's name mentioned quite a bit.

Lee came to Ohio State last year as a big safety, but now he's a normal-sized linebacker (6-2 230) that runs like a safety. I expect him to use that speed to run around and make some plays this spring. There are spots to be won at linebacker, and the Buckeyes need a tackling machine at weakside linebacker.

2. The defensive tackles will look very, very good.
When the Ohio State coaches deemed it acceptable to move last year's starting nose tackle to the offensive line, that should tell you how they feel about the defensive guys coming back. Michael Bennett will be one of the best DTs in the Big Ten, and Michael Hill will show more than just the flashes we saw a year ago.

3. The competition at MLB will make everybody better.

I don't know if Curtis Grant will be able to hold off Raekwon McMillan at middle linebacker, but I do know that each player will leave the spring better than they were when it started. Also, a new defensive philosophy that will ask for less thinking and more action could be just what Curtis Grant is looking for.

4. The H-back will continue to be a popular topic.
Even if there isn't any talk centered around Dontre Wilson (there will be), expect both Jalin Marshall and Curtis Samuel to get people talking as well. All three are the type of playmaker that Urban Meyer has been targeting since the day he was hired, so don't expect them to gather dust.

5. Joey Bosa and Noah Spence will dominate.

This is the "coach pitch" portion of my predicting, because there's no way I'm missing this one. Noah Spence was terrific a year ago, and that was against Jack Mewhort. I'm not sure who will ultimately start at right tackle for the Buckeyes, but I know that he is going to have both of his hands full with Spence and Joey Bosa.

6. J.T. Barrett will leave the spring as the #2 quarterback.
Tom Herman spoke last month about the improvements that quarterback Cardale Jones has made, and intimated that Jones will start the spring as Braxton Miller's backup. Keep in mind, however, that J.T. Barrett was hand-picked out of high school by Herman and Urban Meyer, and there was a reason for that.

7. The right tackle competition won't be settled this spring.
Darryl Baldwin is expected to be the guy running with the ones at the start of practice, and he may be the guy running there at the end, but I just don't think the position will be secure enough to declare the race over in April. A young player will step up, perhaps redshirt freshman Evan Lisle, and the competition will go on well into the summer.

8. This group of receivers will eliminate quite a few doubts.
Urban Meyer has asked for increased production from his receivers each year he has been at Ohio State. This year will be no different. Even though Evan Spencer won't be participating this spring, the passing game shouldn't stumble any. There are so many receivers on the roster right now that a few of them have to end up being pretty good. Also, Devin Smith improved quite a bit from 2012 to 2013, and he should do the same in 2014 as well.

9. Doran Grant will pick up right where Bradley Roby left off...but in a good way.
In his fourth year wearing the Scarlet and Gray, Bradley Roby was expected to have his very best season as a Buckeye. That didn't happen. Doran Grant, meanwhile, is kicking off his fourth season as a Buckeye, and he absolutely will have his best season ever, and it will start this spring. Expect him to be the type of lockdown corner that defenses covet.

10. Ezekiel Elliott will live up to the hype.
In limited snaps last season we all saw what Ezekiel Elliott was capable of. Running the ball is not going to be easy for the Buckeyes this spring, which is why the positive moments are going to be magnified. Elliott's speed, vision, agility and power are tailored for this offense, and the tailoring continues this week.

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