The 2017 season is in the books, and if you take a gander at your calendar — and your sudden fireworks shortage — you will see that it is officially 2018. So with that in mind, I thought it would be a good time to take a first guess at the Ohio State two-deep for next season.
We’ll start first on the offensive side of the ball, with the defense to come later on in the day, in keeping with the whole new year theme.
The fun — and danger — of doing this so early is that I have to take guesses on departures, which is not fair to anybody, most especially me. I could be absolutely wrong on all of them, and will be absolutely wrong on some of them.
17 Dwayne Haskins
18 Tate Martell
Obviously, the guy missing here is Joe Burrow. Since Burrow won’t kill the transfer talk, then who am I to do it for him. He graduates in May and will be free to do whatever he likes at that point. I think he could absolutely be the starting quarterback at Ohio State, but if he isn’t running even with Dwayne Haskins by the end of spring, he has already said he will need to assess the matter. I hate talking about transfers because it’s not fair to the player.
2 J.K. Dobbins
26 Antonio Williams
And the guy here is Mike Weber, who — if I am being forced to pick — I think heads off to the NFL. He only had 10 or more carries five times this season, and it doesn’t appear as though he will be regaining the starting job at Ohio State any time soon. Weber has over 1,700 yards rushing in his Ohio State career, which is a fairly decent resume for an NFL running back.
14 K.J. Hill
30 Demario McCall
Again, let’s talk about who isn’t here — Parris Campbell. Campbell said a few weeks ago that he would think about his future after the bowl game. As a fourth-year junior, the likelihood of him leaving goes up. There is still plenty more that he could do for Ohio State, but Campbell has NFL measurables. Demario McCall has been groomed to step into an H-back role next season, so there has been some preparation for a departure here.
11 Austin Mack
9 Binjimen Victor
This duo doesn’t appear to be changing, and they will add in rising sophomore Jaylen Harris. Both Austin Mack and Binjimen Victor had moments throughout 2017, but they need to turn those moments into consistent performances.
83 Terry McLaurin
1 Johnnie Dixon
Both Terry McLaurin and Johnnie Dixon are going to think things over with the NFL, and I would not be surprised to see Dixon make the jump. More players will be added to this mix, including incoming freshmen Kamryn Babb and Cameron Brown, and should either McLaurin or Dixon leave, a rookie is going to be in a position to contribute.
13 Rashod Berry
89 Luke Farrell
Tight end is a bit of a mystery, so we’re just going with the status quo of the current depth chart. Marcus Baugh is removed, and everybody steps up one spot. Add in rising sophomore Jake Hausmann and incoming freshman Jeremy Ruckert to the mix, and it’s a very talented group of mystery and potential.
59 Isaiah Prince
58 Josh Alabi
This is pretty easy. Isaiah Prince is expected to move over to left tackle for his senior season, and based on his performance in 2017, he is ready.
73 Michael Jordan
66 Malcolm Pridgeon
Michael Jordan returns for possibly his final season, and I only say that because anybody who starts his first three years usually has a decision to make. The depth on the interior will be pretty good, but there is no good way to predict the movement in the two-deep.
79 Brady Taylor
69 Matthew Burrell
Billy Price is convinced that Brady Taylor will step in and take over for him. The standard practice here is to find the best five offensive linemen and fit them in, which has included moving guards Pat Elflein and Billy Price to center. Could the same thing happen with a guy like Matt Burrell or Demetrius Knox?
78 Demetrius Knox
53 Wyatt Davis
Demetrius Knox played well when he stepped in for Branden Bowen, so we know he can play the position. Branden Bowen can as well. Wyatt Davis redshirted this year, but could be the most talented interior lineman on the roster.
76 Branden Bowen
75 Thayer Munford
Again, there is still so much to be worked out. Does Branden Bowen move back to tackle? Is rising sophomore Thayer Munford good enough to earn a starting nod here? Or does he provide the Buckeyes some much-needed depth with a third option at tackle? This is going to be a versatile offensive line in 2018, which is why it is impossible to know what things will look like when the season opens. There are still plenty of moving parts, but as a first guess, this one probably isn’t so bad.