Spring’s Unanswered Questions for the Ohio State Specialists

Mookie Cooper, Garrett Wilson Ohio State Football Buckeyes Receivers

Every year following Ohio State spring football we recap what happened position by position.

Who stepped up, who stepped back, what got fixed, and what didn’t?

With 12 of the 15 spring practices cancelled due to the pandemic, however, essentially nothing happened, nothing got fixed, nobody stepped up, and no questions got answered.

So since we can’t talk about which questions got answered, we will instead discuss which questions still remain.

Position by position.

We have already discussed the quarterbacks, so up next is the Buckeye specialists.

Who is gonna snap the dang ball?

After four years of perfection from long-snapper Liam McCullough, the Buckeyes will now need to find a new triggerman. The good news is that while everyone is under quarantine, the long-snapping practice doesn’t have to stop. Somebody could take a football into a hallway and snap. Heck, keeping the ball from hitting any walls might actually improve the accuracy.

Or even in the living room. The ball has to “one-inch” the back of the couch while snapping from the dining room. You’ll need a bit of an open setup to accomplish that, however.

Or, I suppose, they could just go outside and snap with a buddy or a wall.

The Buckeyes have three long-snappers on the roster — senior Bradley Robinson, senior Phillip Thomas, and redshirt sophomore Roen McCullough, who is the younger brother of Liam.

McCullough was the No. 4 long-snapper in the 2018 recruiting class. Robinson — who began his career at Michigan State in 2016 — was the No. 20 snapper nationally and No. 1 in Michigan. Thomas has been with the team since 2017.

What’s the punt and kick return situation look like?

Garrett Wilson emerged as the team’s punt returner last season, returning 14 punts for 86 yards. The average wasn’t great, but Wilson did have a return of over 50 yards. He showed total comfort and competence in the role, which is half the battle.

With only three practices, however, the job wasn’t really competed for. Guys like Demario McCall, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Mookie Cooper, and a few others will get looks when camp opens up again.

Last year’s leading kick returner is back, as McCall led the way with 10 returns for 232 yards last year. He should once again be the favorite for the job, but will also get pushed. With the diminishing importance of kick return, however, this job isn’t as impactful as it used to be.

Which freshmen are ready for coverage duty?

Kick coverage is always an interesting menagerie of veteran starters and inexperienced freshmen. Unfortunately, Ryan Day and special teams coordinator Matt Barnes did not get a chance to see any of those inexperienced freshmen give it a go.

This will end up being one of the many things that will need to be figured out in fall camp. It will be an opportunity for a number of freshmen to earn playing time on offense or defense.

Those freshmen will also be joined by the 2019 signing class, many of whom are looking to make their first sizable mark as Buckeyes.

Usually plays need to be made on special teams before those players will be trusted on offense or defense, and the timetable of trustbuilding has been pushed back a few months.

3 Responses

  1. useful details on ‘hallway snap’ practice !

    i used to watch our snappers practice hitting a bullseye on the wall at the Woody after practice…. They snapped 1000 times; i watched about 25…

    Dedication… what you show when Nobody is looking… ;-{)}

    1. in other gnus, Gerd asked TIC about his ‘civil rights’….

      let us each scrub and keep distance, so we do not become…

      civil rites.

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