Every year, new Buckeyes emerge and climb the depth charts of the Ohio State offense and defense.
It is a necessary progression which then allows the program to replace departed stars and reestablish any loss of depth.
Spring football is a significant portion of that player development and progression, and it always provides a few glimpses at some of the newest Ohio State stars.
Today, the Buckeyes are finishing up their 12th practice of what has been a productive spring camp.
It has been more productive for some than others, as is always the case. Injuries have allowed some young players to make a move. And some young players who had already established themselves as a leader at a position have gone on to cement their standing.
This past weekend we looked at the biggest movers this spring for the Ohio State defense, which means that today it is time to have the same type of discussion about the Buckeye offense.
Jeremy Ruckert, Soph. TE
The annual talk about this being the year that the tight ends get the ball has really centered around Jeremy Ruckert, and not because he is going to be starting for the Buckeyes this year, but because he and fifth-year senior Rashod Berry could command more playing time as they provide as much value to the offense as a third receiver. Ruckert’s ability to run routes as a slot receiver, tight end, or fullback makes him a very intriguing part of the Ohio State passing game. Having a second tight end on the field also helps out the running game. Ruckert has had a strong spring and is one of the reasons why head coach Ryan Day is feeling better and better about two tight end sets.
Garrett Wilson, Fr. WR
Garrett Wilson hasn’t exactly moved up the depth chart since enrolling early. In fact, with the move of Austin Mack to the ‘Z’ receiver spot, Wilson has actually moved back a step and is now behind Mack and sophomore Chris Olave. Don’t let that distract you from the fact that Wilson has been everything his coaches expected this spring. There are still plenty of nuances to work on, but the natural abilities show up nearly every single practice. Just a true freshman, he still needs to finish strong this week and then continue progression in the offseason.
Jaylen Harris, Jr. WR
Ohio State receivers coach Brian Hartline told me this spring that moving Austin Mack from ‘Z’ to ‘X’ was made easier by the play of junior Jaylen Harris. He and senior Binjimen Victor are manning the ‘X’ for the Buckeyes right now, along with many capable assists this spring from walk-on redshirt sophomore Garyn Prater. Harris has mostly just watched over his past two seasons, but now sitting second on the depth chart — which may actually mean being a co-starter — he is one giant step closer to being a significant contributor to the Ohio State offense.
Josh Myers, rSoph. C
Josh Myers and offensive line coach Greg Studrawa were both confident that Myers could have stepped in over the second half of last year for Michael Jordan if it was needed. In fact, there was even talk of doing it anyway. Even with the confidence the coaches had in Myers last season, he has only increased it this spring. He’s still the No. 1 at center but has done well enough that Studrawa views incoming graduate transfer Jonah Jackson as a guard because he feels just fine with the center position as it stands with Myers, redshirt freshman Matthew Jones, and incoming freshman Harry Miller.
Nicholas Petit-Frere, rFr. RT
Redshirt freshman Nicholas Petit-Frere has been one of the biggest movers of the spring in terms of easing his coaches’ concerns. Petit-Frere only played in a couple of games last season, but they want him competing for a starting spot this year. So far, he has held steady at right tackle. He began the spring with the twos behind Branden Bowen, but as Bowen has floated to left tackle and also guard to replace sick or injured teammates, Petit-Frere has held firm. The reason Petit-Frere isn’t moving around is because he’s more comfortable at right tackle and also because Greg Studrawa wants to give him every opportunity to win the job in August. So far, he looks like he’s on track.
Jaelen Gill, rFr. HB
The loss of Parris Campbell on and off the field is significant for the Buckeyes. Jaelen Gill won’t yet be able to touch Campbell off the field, but there have been moments on the field this spring that certainly reminded people of the departed Campbell. Ohio State has actually lost two H-backs from last season, as Campbell is off to the NFL and fourth-year junior Demario McCall has moved back to running back. Gill’s presence made that move much easier to make, and together with fifth-year seniors KJ Hill and CJ Saunders, the H-back position will again be one of strength for the Buckeyes. Gill has provided the ability to run the sweeps that they lost with Campbell, and has shown all spring that he is also comfortable as a downfield receiver. He has also displayed plenty of ability after the catch, which was a Campbell signature.