Post-Spring Best Guessing the Ohio State Depth Chart — Defense

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Spring football is now over and done with for the Ohio State Buckeyes, which means it is time to try and piece together what the depth chart looks like.

Yesterday, we looked at the offense, so today we will move on to the defense.

With the bulk of the defensive starters returning from last season, the depth chart shouldn’t look too differently than it did a year ago.

Defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones and cornerback Kendall Sheffield are the only starters who won’t be returning, and Sheffield’s departure will be made easier to handle by Ohio State likely not opting to have a three-man rotation any longer.

Despite the large number of starters returning, some names will be in different spots, and incumbents will have to convince their new position coaches that they should be starting this coming season as well.

Let’s take a look at where things stand following spring ball.

Defensive End
2 Chase Young, Jr (6-5 265)
54 Tyler Friday, Soph (6-3 260)
33 Zach Harrison, Fr (6-6 255)
17 Alex Williams, rFr (6-6 270)

The defensive ends will move from one side of the other, so this is just half of the population at the position. Tyler Friday missed a good portion of spring, which is unfortunate. He showed great promise last season and should build on what he started. Zach Harrison doesn’t need any more hype heaped on him than he already has, but he has impressed this spring. Don’t sleep on Alex Williams.

Three Tech
9 Jashon Cornell, rSr (6-3 280) AND
6 Taron Vincent, Soph (6-2 293)
92 Haskell Garrett, Jr (6-2 295)
98 Jerron Cage, rSoph (6-2 295)

I believe the plan is for Jashon Cornell and Taron Vincent to rotate quite a bit this season. Haskell Garrett will get in there as well, and could earn more playing time with consistent performances.

Nose Tackle
67 Robert Landers, rSr (6-1 285) AND
53 Davon Hamilton, rSr (6-4 310)
72 Tommy Togiai, Soph (6-2 300)
90 Antwuan Jackson, rJr (6-2 299)

You could include Tommy Togiai in the ANDs and I don’t think you’d get any argument from Larry Johnson. Robert Landers and Davon Hamilton have seen everything, so there is a level of comfort with them. Togiai can provide an offense so much discomfort, however, that it will be difficult to keep him out of any rotation.

Defensive End
18 Jonathon Cooper, Sr (6-4 257)
11 Tyreke Smith, Soph (6-4 267)
38 Javontae Jean-Baptiste, rFr (6-5 245)
97 Noah Potter, Fr (6-6 252)

There’s just a lot of good defensive ends on this roster. Arguably no two defensive ends stood out more during the spring game than the last two on this list. Let that sink in for a bit.

39 Malik Harrison, Sr (6-3 245)
19 Dallas Gant, Soph (6-3 232)
47 Justin Hilliard, rSr (6-1 235) Inj.

We don’t know if Justin Hilliard will be back from injury this season. We do know that Malik Harrison will be just fine this year, and Dallas Gant should be able to learn quite a bit from watching him.

32 Tuf Borland, rJr (6-1 232) OR
5 Baron Browning, Jr (6-3 248) OR
7 Teradja Mitchell, Soph (6-2 242)

Tuf Borland missed most of the spring with a knee injury. Even without that injury, however, it sounds like this position was going to be opened back up this year regardless.

20 Pete Werner, Jr (6-3 239)
36 K’Vaughan Pope, Soph (6-1 231)

Even with the move to the Bullet, the Buckeyes are still going to have a Sam, as you saw in the spring game. The two positions are essentially interchangeable and Pete Werner has been with the ones throughout camp.

25 Brendon White, Jr (6-2 215)
23 Jahsen Wint, rJr (5-11 200)

We didn’t see much, if any, of the Bullet in action on Saturday. I doubt it was because of a lack of confidence, but rather the coaches having no desire to tip their hand. Both players are excited about their new roles, which was apparent from watching them this spring.

3 Damon Arnette, rSr (6-0 195)
13 Tyreke Johnson, rFr (6-1 195) OR
26 Cameron Brown, Soph (6-0 188)

Damon Arnette had a feisty spring, which is not all that unusual for him. All reviews were positive, and Arnette could frequently be seen on the practice field teaching his younger teammates. Tyreke Johnson and Cameron Brown both comported themselves well on Saturday.

Free Safety
14 Isaiah Pryor, Jr (6-2 200)
15 Josh Proctor, Soph (6-2 205)
28 Ronnie Hickman, Fr (6-1 200) inj.

I’m still unsure what is going to happen at safety because Jordan Fuller isn’t listed at either spot and we all know he’s going to be starting somewhere. Does he have the range to be the one-high safety? If so, maybe this is where he’ll be. If not, then he’ll be down at strong safety and Shaun Wade will likely just see time at nickel and corner.

Strong Safety
24 Shaun Wade, rSoph (6-1 194)
10 Amir Riep, Jr (5-11 195)
29 Marcus Hooker, rFr (5-11 200) inj.

Moving Shaun Wade at this point might be a mistake because he was one of the best players on the Ohio State defense all spring long. Amir Riep was great in the spring game as well, capping a solid spring. If you’re looking for a spot for Jordan Fuller, the argument could be made that free safety needs him more than strong safety.

1 Jeff Okudah, Jr (6-1 200)
12 Sevyn Banks, Soph (6-1 200)
21 Marcus Williamson, Jr (5-10 186)

Credit the Buckeye cornerbacks for learning Jeff Hafley’s techniques as quickly as they did. Jeff Okudah’s progression may not have been easily recognizable on the field this spring, but Hafley saw growth in technique every day. Marcus Williamson needs to get healthy if he’s ever going to make a push. This should be the last season that Sevyn Banks isn’t in the starting lineup.

5 Responses

  1. Mitchell is not ready to play mike. Hell he didn’t have a tackle last year except maybe special teams. Borland is the natural mike. Zach Birem was not fast either but could read and was intense as hell. Give Borland a break for God’s sake. He played for a dumb ass LB coach last year and played on a never healed Achilles. Funny the year before when he took over the mike he was a hero. But when he plays all year last year injured and in a ridiculous scheme he is a goat. All of you arm chair coaches go to hell.!!! You know nothing about playing Mike.

    1. Ah, the ever predictable “arm chair coaches”……….blah blah blah. I know a little bit about playing the MIKE position. I think most would agree, Tuf was injured last year and piss poor decisions by a pathetic LB coach and DC risked Tuf’s career by putting him on the field AT ALL in 2018. Maybe you should make the tiniest bit of effort to know what people actually think before making assumptions. NOBODY is going to remember his back half of 2017 level of play (he played outstanding but was no hero). People, including scouts are going to remember that he was the defensive signal called for 2018 for a Buckeye defense that was one of the worst defenses in school history. He “could” change some people who matter’s minds, but it seems that he’s struggling to even get or be healthy enough for 2 hand touch. This is Ohio State, you’d be 180 degree’s off mark if you don’t think people who matter aren’t taking note.I know Mike D’Andrea fairly well. The man was a flat out baller and maybe the most Natural Mike linebacker the Buckeyes landed up to that point, since Chris Spielman. THEN he had injuries and he just wasn’t the same hungry punisher he was before. Not every player recovers from injuries in the same way and getting over the mental aspect is sometimes harder to get beyond than the injury itself.

      Nobody dislikes Tuf Borland, and I suspect the majority would like to see him return to how he played in the back half of 2017. The facts are, 2018 was a disaster year for him no matter the reason or excuse. Historical awful defense in scheme AND in player execution where he was the signal caller. Now when we have a chance to see how much of 2018 was scheme………Tuf can’t play and this time it’s his knee. But for you, it’s us “arm chair coaches” who are the problem. Instead of being all twisted up, maybe you could try looking at the facts, and actually listen to what people really think instead of what you “think” they’re thinking.

      Maybe Tuf can be Johnnie Dixon in persevering and overcoming injury. Or maybe he’ll be unable to respond like was Mike D;Andrea’s case. It doesn’t make them any less terrific young men if something keeps getting in their way.

  2. Do we just feel sad and sorry for poor Larry Johnson. I mean, he’s only got 16 bodies capable of being at least All Big 10 in 2019 who he can start! Poor guy must be having sleepless nights.

    Ome guys just aren’t meant to be flipped and flopped to various positions. Baron Browning is one of them. He’s a SAM linebacker. PERIOD.

    Give me Teradja Mitchell to start at Mike and Tuf Borland to be his back-up.

    Will looks right.

    I wouldn’t be all that upset seeing Jahsen Wint as the 1 high safety. Watched his performance with a lot of interest in the Spring game, he can move, he can cover a LOT of ground, and he packs a major league thump when he arrives. The new defensive scheme appears to be exactly what the doctor ordered. SE BALL, GET BALL.

    No mention of Marcus Hooker???

    1. He’s been injured all spring. I meant to include him before I hit publish. I’m assuming he’d be at SS right now. I’ll fix it. Thanks.

  3. Even though Wilson grabbed that TD over him, Im predicting Sevyn Banks will be the next great CB for the Buckeyes. The kid is a competitor and looks the part. Watch out for him to make some noise this year.

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