Five for Friday: Buckeye Bowl Practice Beneficiaries

Ohio State Football Buckeyes Five for Friday Ohio State Recruiting


The best thing about bowl games isn’t getting to see your team play one more time, it’s getting young players another month of practices to help them grow and get better in anticipation of helping out the following season.

During the season, the practices are about implementing game plans and playing against the scout team offense and defense. There aren’t a lot of opportunities for young players to get good physical reps.

That changes during bowl preparation, however.

Now, playing in January rather than on December 29 would have given Ohio State’s young players more time, but given the number of vets on this OSU team, they won’t need the number of reps that will be available to them. That means there will be a much larger number of reps for young players, which can then propel them into winter workouts and spring football.

So which Buckeyes will benefit most from these bowl practices? I’m glad you asked.

I just prepared a cursory list and now I’ve got to pare down a list of nearly 20 players to just five or so. Rest assured that when you read this and don’t see a name you expected to read, I simply had to remove him because this sometimes-weekly feature is called Five for Friday, and not Fifteen for Friday.

1. Jeff Okudah, Fr CB

Jeff Okudah is already Ohio State’s No. 4 cornerback, but he will need to be in the starting rotation next season. Even though I don’t expect Damon Arnette or Kendall Sheffield to rest too much during bowl practice, Okudah should be able to get some reps that Denzel Ward no longer needs. Okudah has everything the Buckeyes could want at cornerback and will make a significant jump in each camp he takes part in. Keep in mind, this will be his second winter and his second spring. By the time he gets to fall camp, he’ll have much more experience than most true sophomores.

2. Baron Browning, Fr LB

I don’t know where Baron Browning will play next year, but any increase in reps that he can get in bowl practice will be beneficial for 2018. Browning is an athletic prototype who can play any of the three linebackers spots. Bill Davis started him out at middle linebacker, but that’s just because once he learns that spot, the other two are easier to teach. I don’t expect him to be the Mike next year, however, unless he can beat out Tuf Borland. Still, a solid set of bowl practices could go a long way towards convincing the defensive staff that they have to find room for Browning.

3. Chase Young, Fr DE

Chase Young is like charcoal laced with lighter fluid, and reps are the match. Obviously, Larry Johnson doesn’t need to go crazy with reps for Tyquan Lewis, Jalyn Holmes, and Sam Hubbard, which will leave plenty for Young and sophomore Jonathon Cooper. Young and Cooper will be counted on heavily in 2018, and this is the start of those responsibilities for both players.

4. Thayer Munford, Fr OT

When most summer workouts and fall camps can overwhelm a freshman, they only made Thayer Munford better. He hit the ground running for Greg Studrawa and put himself in the two-deep very early. What that tells me is that more reps is only going to be received the same way — he is going to get better quickly. The Buckeyes are going to be looking for a new starting tackle next season, and this is where Munford begins to make his case.

5. Keandre Jones, Soph LB

Keandre Jones has been Jerome Baker’s backup each of the last two seasons, and these next three weeks will allow him to show his coaches that he is ready to take over if Baker leaves early for the NFL. There will be a tremendous competition for Baker’s spot if he does leave early, and will feature nearly as many as the seven players who were vying for the vacant right guard spot this spring and summer. Jones is a tremendous athlete with plenty of prototypical measurables. People should not forget about him.

Bonus: Haskell Garrett, Fr DT

I don’t know how much his reps will increase because he is still playing the same position as Jashon Cornell and Dre’Mont Jones, but expectations are very high for Haskell Garrett and the DT rotation in 2018.

Bonus: Jonathon Cooper, Soph DE

I already mentioned Jonathon Cooper above, but he shouldn’t be overlooked because of Chase Young. Both are expected to fill out the defensive end rotation and play the same number of snaps. As such, Cooper will need this set of practices to put him on the runway towards taking off in 2018.

Bonus: Marcus Williamson, Fr. CB; Amir Riep, Fr. CB

Both Marcus Williamson and Amir Riep played plenty on special teams, with Riep being one of the standouts on kick coverage this year. Both players will get some needed defensive reps these next few weeks. Williamson will be able to add them to his spring football experience. This is Riep’s first winter, so expect it to help out greatly. As far as the other freshman cornerback is concerned, the Buckeyes are hopeful that Shaun Wade can be full go at some point during bowl practice, but their focus with him is getting him healthy and ready for 2018. Wade dealt with an abdominal tear this season, which forced the redshirt. As you might expect, he’s dying to show what he can do.

Bonus: Demario McCall, Soph RB/HB

Demario McCall is redshirting this season and spending a lot of time on the scout team. He was Jonathan Taylor prior to the Wisconsin game and I imagine he will be Ronald Jones II, who has rushed for 100 yards in five-straight games for USC. This has been a tough year for McCall as he transitions to H-back, but this might be a bit of a bright spot for him. (If being on the scout team against the Ohio State defense really sounds all that fun.)

Bonus: Wyatt Davis, Fr. OG; Josh Myers, Fr. OG

I don’t know how many reps either of Wyatt Davis or Josh Myers will get considering the relative youth (Michael Jordan) and inexperience (Demetrius Knox) at the position, but any action that the two freshmen can get will only help them as they move forward on their quest to impact the depth chart and/or starting lineup next season.

Bonus: Jack Wohlabaugh, rFr. C

Let’s face it, Billy Price could probably spend the next three weeks in Tijuana and show up the morning of the Cotton Bowl and be good to go. As such, this will be a prime opportunity to find snaps for next year’s center, whoever that might be. Jack Wohlabaugh was brought in for that to eventually be him, but rising fifth-year senior Brady Taylor has been the backup for years now. This may also be an opportunity for another possibility to get into the mix, like Matt Burrell.


2 Responses

  1. Good time to start Haskins but it won’t happen.

  2. Add in Borland, who has been solid against the run, but has contributed to the problems the linebackers have had defending the pass. If Borland can fix that aspect of his game he’s going to be a mainstay in the middle, making finding the playmakers on the outside that much easier.

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