Ohio State football: Can any freshmen win starting jobs for Buckeyes?
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Is there an incoming freshman that will start in the fall?
— Jeff Ward (@Knowmadz) March 19, 2018
Thanks to all the talented players who decided to stick around for another year and defend the Big Ten title, there are only a handful of positions where there are even jobs up for grabs. And the truth is, at this point in Urban Meyer’s tenure with highly ranked recruiting classes stacked on top of each other, Ohio State shouldn’t ever be expecting a freshman to come in and jump immediately into the starting lineup.
Should there be contributors? Absolutely. But in terms of potential starters, there are probably only a couple of realistic options worth considering for the Buckeyes this year.
At the top of the list: Jeremy Ruckert. Considering the caliber of the player he is — he comes in as the top-ranked tight end in the country — and the need to replace Marcus Baugh after his graduation, Ruckert will arrive as the betting favorite among newcomers to potentially crack the starting lineup in his first season with the program. But even for somebody of Ruckert’s ability, there are still caveats to consider since he won’t be on campus until this summer and he’ll have to compete with returning Buckeyes Rashod Berry, Jake Hausmann and Luke Farrell.
Along those lines, Ohio State has needs on the offensive line and at safety. And while Matthew Jones enrolled early and could throw himself in the mix at center, it’s rare and not usually ideal to put a first-year player into the starting lineup up front — even with Michael Jordan proving to be an exception to that rule. And while Josh Proctor was another gem in the loaded 2018 signing class, the defensive back from Oklahoma is probably going to find himself waiting in line behind Isaiah Pryor this season while he continues to develop physically and learn the defense.
So, there are a couple of candidates in the conversation, and there could be some surprises once Meyer gets his hands on all the new Buckeyes. He’s definitely not opposed to playing guys early if they prove they have earned the opportunity, and with a class as talented as this one, there almost certainly will be snaps for a bunch of freshmen. But starts are probably going to be tougher to come by, which is absolutely a positive for Ohio State and a sign of the overall strength of the roster heading into Meyer’s seventh season.
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