We are roughly two weeks away from Ohio State football camp opening, if you can believe it.
The light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter by the day, and you can almost make out the desolate Bloomington farmscape taking shape. Yes, that is a Denny’s with a silo. And no, they don’t have pull tabs, that would be illegal (wink, wink).
In order to get geared up for the season, I thought now would be a good time to go over what you should be looking forward to. I’m not saying these 100 items are all that there is, because it would be weird to end on a round number naturally like that. But still, it’s a pretty good list.
Up first, 100-91.
100. Kevin Wilson at Indiana.
Oh, come on, who isn’t looking forward to Kevin Wilson’s first game as Ohio State’s offensive coordinator being in the home of the school that fired him. Remember when they tried to run Rambo out of town by taking him outside of city limits, only to see him turn around and come back? This will be like that, except there will be less murdering. If only slightly.
99. Seeing if a fourth tackle can emerge.
The Buckeyes had three offensive tackles they liked last year in Jamarco Jones, Isaiah Prince, and Branden Bowen, but they’d love to have a fourth. So can somebody show up? There’s already been good word out there on freshman Thayer Munford. Does Josh Alabi continue his rise from the spring? Can Kevin Feder stay healthy enough to have a shot? Do we maybe see Malcolm Pridgeon move back out to tackle? There are enough options here to think that somebody will come through for the Buckeyes.
98. Finding a new Michigan defender to hate on.
Look, it’s not going to be easy to get over losing Jabrill Peppers, we all know that. But you’re going to have to find a way to replace him. Yeah, he gave you reasons to hate him in a number of ways. You could hate him at running back, or linebacker, or punt returner, or safety, or wildcat quarterback. Your hate versatility was something that was impressive to watch. I know it doesn’t seem possible now, but you’ll find somebody to hate in his place. If you truly have hate in your heart, then you’ll find a way. Maybe start talking now about how Rashan Gary doesn’t have any interceptions and see how that goes for you.
97. Having the first Saturday all to yourself.
Whoops, this should be in the 100 Things That I Am Looking Forward to This Year. Sorry for being selfish, but I don’t get to sit around being lazy on Saturdays, watching 14 hours of college football like some of you. I have to go to work! Except, of course, for the first week this season where I can be a regular schlub on Saturday just like you people. Not that I envy you or anything. Sometimes it’s just good to see how the other half lives so I don’t become jaded and hateful.
96. Scoring 50+ points in four-straight games.
You have to go all the way back to…2014 for the last time this happened. That was with J.T. Barrett at quarterback (and Kent, Cincinnati, Maryland, and Rutgers on the schedule, but I digress). If it happens again this season, it will be just the second time in school history. And also the second time for Barrett. No coincidence though, probably.
95. Tate Martell as the holder on placements.
Okay, so this probably won’t happen, but the kid is a killer red-zone quarterback, so just imagine him as the holder for a team that sometimes does the kooky Oregon stuff on extra points. They could always have a guy out there in Tate Martell who knows how to handle the football. It would at least give the opponents something to prepare for each week. Do you do it at the expense of his redshirt? No, but we’re just talkin’ here, right?
94. Who becomes the “Next Man Up”.
This isn’t really something to look forward to since it involves injury, but it’s always interesting to see players step in for injured starters and emerge. The 2016 season can’t be told without Jerome Baker having a prominent role in the story, and yet he was supposed to be a backup at an entirely different position last year. Who is the Jerome Baker this year? Which player that you’re looking forward to seeing in 2018 will get his shot in 2017? And at what cost?
93. Finding out if Jaylen Harris is ready.
Will Jaylen Harris take the Binjimen Victor route, where he shows up and is raw, but the talent and athleticism becomes too much to ignore? Can he convince his coaches to let him play before the season gets too many games under its belt? Will the Buckeyes even need him with the promise of so many other blossoming pass catchers?
92. J.K. Dobbins in traffic.
How can you not be looking forward to seeing this?
91. The most athletic group of linebackers in OSU history.
Do you realize that Ohio State has more 5-star linebackers on its bench (3) than the rest of the Big Ten teams have on their rosters combined (0)? Recruiting rankings aren’t everything, but it’s a pretty interesting situation that the Buckeyes have created. The reason those blue-chip prospects are on the bench is because you’ve got three guys in Jerome Baker, Dante Booker, and Chris Worley who are all elite athletes for the linebacker position. In fact, they would each scoff at the qualifier of “linebacker position”. This is a group that is interchangeable and can mix-and-match as the need arises. The guys behind them are incredibly impressive as well. Malik Harrison, Keandre Jones, Tuf Borland, Baron Browning, Justin Hilliard, and Pete Werner don’t take a backseat to anybody…except for Baker, Booker, and Worley, of course.