Football

Best Guessing the Ohio State Pre-Spring Depth Chart: Defense

Ohio State football Zach Harrison

Ohio State is now two weeks out from opening spring ball and the Buckeyes will be looking to find a new starting running back, a group of at least six receivers they can trust, two new starters on the offensive line, a replacement for Chase Young, at least two starting defensive tackles, a new Will linebacker, and three new starters in the secondary.

This being Ohio State, there are options.

With so many lopsided games last season, plenty of non-starters saw considerable time. And that’s not even including the positions where rotations occurred.

Even though the Buckeyes are replacing a number of departed starters, they’ll be doing it with players who aren’t new to playing time.

We’re going to give our best guess as to what the first Ohio State depth chart will look like this spring — which will not include any of the freshmen who have yet to enroll.

We began earlier in the week with the offensive side of the ball.

We’ll now conclude with defense.

Defensive End
JONATHON COOPER, rSR
Tyler Friday, JR OR
Javontae Jean-Baptiste, rSO
Cade Stover, rFR
Jacolbe Cowan, FR

Defensive End
Tyreke Smith, JR OR
Zach Harrison, SO
Noah Potter, rFR
Darrion Henry-Young, FR

There is still plenty to shake out here. There are five defensive ends returning who played regularly, and all four of Friday, JJB, Smith, and Harrison played over 200 snaps, but under 300. They will again rotate this spring in preparation for rotating with Jonathon Cooper during the season. This is a position of depth which could see a player or two move, especially when you look at the lack of depth inside.

Defensive Tackle
Haskell Garrett, SR
Taron Vincent, rSO
Jaden McKenzie, rFR

The assumption is that Taron Vincent is healthy. He was battling with Jashon Cornell last spring for the top spot at three tech before missing the entire season. We’re also assuming this is where Jaden McKenzie will start. It also wouldn’t be a bad place for Darrion Henry-Young.

Nose Tackle
Tommy Togiai, JR
Antwuan Jackson, rSR
Jerron Cage, rJR

If you’re looking for a guy whose name will be mentioned by a large number of people repeatedly, put some money on Tommy Togiai. This is Antwuan Jackson’s last go-round, so the Buckeyes need a strong spring. Same with Cage. Even though he has two years of eligibility, he is needed now.

Will Linebacker
K’Vaughan Pope, JR OR
Teradja Mitchell, JR OR
Dallas Gant, JR

Go ahead and pick your class of 2018 linebacker for this spot. And maybe add Justin Hilliard. There is going to be so much movement at linebacker this spring you’re gonna need a scorecard.

Mike Linebacker
TUF BORLAND, rSR OR
Baron Browning, SR
Tommy Eichenberg, rFR

The question here is will the defensive coaches want to go with a two-headed attack at middle linebacker again, or do they move Baron Browning to Will and get them both on the field.

Sam Linebacker
PETE WERNER, SR
Justin Hilliard, rSR
Craig Young, rSO

If Pete Werner is moved from Sam, then everything we’ve ever been told about life is a lie. The coaches love him and his ability to do whatever they ask. Justin Hilliard has his sixth year of eligibility, but it may not take place at Ohio State. He intimated late last year that he would likely need assurances that he’ll be playing more than he did last season, and possibly much more.

Cornerback
SHAUN WADE, rJR
Tyreke Johnson, rSO
Lejond Cavazos, FR

Cornerback
Cameron Brown, JR OR
Sevyn Banks, JR
Ryan Watts, FR

The secondary is going to be something to watch. Shaun Wade will be fine. Sevyn Banks and Cameron Brown will compete to play opposite Wade. Or does one of them immediately move to the slot? Or do they just alternate Banks and Brown in the slot and outside all camp long? This is a very important spring for Tyreke Johnson who has to find a role in a defense that needs help.

Free Safety
Josh Proctor JR
Marcus Hooker, rSO
Ronnie Hickman, rFR OR
Bryson Shaw, rFR

Marcus Hooker got some good snaps in last year, so he should provide some competition to Josh Proctor. Expect Proctor to open with the ones. Could Tyreke Johnson end up here or at the slot safety/corner spot?

Slot Safety
Cameron Brown, JR OR
Sevyn Banks, JR OR
Marcus Williamson, SR

This could be the most intriguing spot to watch on the Ohio State defense because it is completely up for grabs. It’s essentially an unknown at this point because Shaun Wade will be outside. Will it continue to be a true corner, or can one of the free safeties get in here?

Bullet
PETE WERNER, SR
Craig Young, rFR
Kourt Williams, FR

The Bullet and the Sam are the same positions, it’s just that they are asked to do some different things. Pete Werner was able to do everything asked of both positions. Craig Young is at linebacker now but spent his 2019 on the scout team at safety. At 6-foot-4 and 200+ pounds with 10.7 speed, he could be an intriguing option here down the road. Ryan Day has already called freshman Kourt Williams a future captain.

[ALL CAPS indicates a returning starter.]

8 Responses

  1. One more year of the slow MLB. Ughhhh. A three starter that won’t get drafted by the XFL

    1. It’s pretty damn remarkable isnt it 🤷‍♂️

  2. WILL – Baron Browning
    MIKE – Tuf Borland OR Teradja Mitchell
    SAM – Pete Werner
    1st off the bench – K’Vaughn Pope OR Dallas Gant

  3. How the hell could Harrison not be a starter going into spring? So two guys who have been injury prone and have relatively underachieved are ahead of him simply based on seniority? This mentality is what separates OSU from Bama/Clemson. Hopefully the coaches dont employ this logic.

    The portal will fill up with 2 to 3 of our LBs.

    1. It won’t be a shock if he is, hence the OR. They’re both going to rotate and play roughly the same number of snaps.

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