In college football, players must emerge every spring in order to replace departed teammates. For Ohio State, this generally works out thanks to tireless recruiting, but it’s not foolproof.
There have certainly been times when the Buckeyes have left the spring with coaches still wondering who who was going to fill out their respective depth charts, but at the very least there have been options.
This spring, there are replacements that must be found on both sides of the ball. Today, we’ll focus on the offense, where Ohio State is replacing a starting quarterback, a 2,700-yard rusher, three starting receivers, and four starters on the offensive line.
So many departures makes this a very big spring for the Buckeyes on offense, and there are more than just the six players listed below who need to break out. And more almost certainly will.
For our purposes, though, we’ll try to keep things relatively brief. We will also steer clear of the true freshmen because there is enough depth here to where it is going to be difficult for any of them to “break out.” (Though if you’re asking for one freshman among the bunch who could be listed here, it would be receiver Garrett Wilson.)
Also, veterans who have been in a rotation (like Binjimen Victor) won’t be listed here because this is more about the unknown quantities.
Demario McCall, rJr H-Back
While Demario McCall isn’t an unknown quantity, the quantity of his snaps is what lands him here. He hasn’t played a lot over his first three seasons, but that is going to change this season. His versatility will allow the Buckeyes to fill some of the void left by both Parris Campbell and Mike Weber, and he should make plays at both spots. He had a great spring game last year, but the way he closed the season was more meaningful.
Matthew Baldwin, rFr Quarterback
Ryan Day and Mike Yurcich are working hard to make sure Matthew Baldwin is ready to start this season, and given that this is the first time he’s ever gotten to compete for the job, expect him to excel. They will ease into the offense, but Baldwin can’t let up even once in trying to prove that he is the offense’s best option.
Justin Fields, So Quarterback
There are 129 other teams in the nation that wanted Justin Fields on their roster this year, but Ryan Day and Ohio State won out. He has both the arm and legs to make plays, but his understanding of the offense this spring will be important as well. His natural skill set should allow him to blossom, even though his running ability won’t really come into play against his teammates.
Jaylen Harris, Jr Wide Receiver
Jaylen Harris is entering his junior season and even though he is playing the same position as veterans Austin Mack and Binjimen Victor, his position coach believes his time is now. At 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, he obviously brings intriguing size to the X position, and after two years of watching others do it, he’s probably itching for some playing time himself.
Master Teague, So Running Back
Over the last seven seasons, Ohio State’s second-leading rusher is averaging around 160 rushing attempts per season. With Mike Weber gone, that second-leading rusher is now gone. Master Teague had a strong spring last year as a true freshman and he has a huge opportunity available to him right now. He has the size and speed to be an every-down back, but will have to share with Demario McCall as they relieve JK Dobbins. Teague is a hard worker and a diligent learner, so this spring should be a good one for him.
Nicholas Petit-Frere, rFr Offensive Tackle
Nicholas Petit-Frere played in three games last season, so he’s had a taste of action. He practiced all last season in the two deep and grew as a true freshman. Now competing for a starting job, Petit-Frere could blossom and begin to realize the immense potential that made him a 5-star prospect and the No. 1 offensive lineman in the 2018 recruiting class.
Jaelen Gill, rFr H-Back
Okay, so Jaelen Gill is actually the seventh Buckeye listed here, and names like Josh Alabi, Jeremy Ruckert, Kamryn Babb, Matthew Jones, and several others could be listed here as well. Gill spent last season learning how to be a full-fledged receiver and now he has the skill set that should be able to find a home in Ohio State’s offense.