COLUMBUS, Ohio — The offseason has arrived for Ohio State.
And while the Buckeyes have plenty to keep them busy with summer conditioning, for everybody outside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, it’s speculation season to pass the time before training camp.
Fortunately, Urban Meyer and his program provided no shortage of lessons throughout March and April to absorb in the months ahead, capping it with a scrimmage on Saturday at the Horseshoe that gave the seventh-year coach just about everything he could have wanted. So, what all did Ohio State accomplish over those 15 workouts, and what does it mean for the future?
Let’s break down the top takeaways.
Ohio State has great options at quarterback
There was clearly a reason Meyer was hesitant throughout camp to name a leader in the race to take over the starting quarterback job. The Buckeyes could win with either Dwayne Haskins, Joe Burrow or Tate Martell in that critical role, and the spring game was a reminder of what each of those candidates does well. There are tough decisions to be made, both by the coaching staff when it comes to the evaluations and potentially for Burrow if he thinks his best bet for guaranteed playing time is elsewhere as a graduate transfer. But with the big arm of Haskins, the steady hand of Burrow or the dynamic athleticism of Martell, the Buckeyes have the potential to defend the Big Ten title no matter who eventually claims J.T. Barrett’s throne.
The defensive line could be the best in the country
Perhaps it seemed a little crazy earlier in spring when Nick Bosa was touting the possibility that Ohio State could be even better up front this year even after losing Sam Hubbard, Jalyn Holmes and Tyquan Lewis. But the reigning Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year looks like he was on to something, and the Rushmen have the makings of a truly terrifying unit for opponents to block this season. Chase Young is developing into a star, Dre’Mont Jones has been a monster on the practice field, Jonathon Cooper is emerging as a weapon — and then there’s Bosa. Good luck to the quarterbacks on Ohio State’s schedule this fall who will be working under what figures to be ridiculous pressure.
Ohio State’s recruiting success is showing up at key spots
For maybe the first time in Meyer’s tenure with the program, the Buckeyes are positioned to have a full two-deep to work with on the offensive line and enough linebackers to unleash a rotation of tacklers. Both units had to deal with health issues during the spring, most notably with starting middle linebacker Tuf Borland suffering an Achilles injury that will keep him on the shelf until at least September. The offensive line was also working without starting guards Michael Jordan and Branden Bowen, but that might wind up being a blessing in disguise considering the extra reps that were afforded to some other guys pushing for action. Similarly at linebacker, Baron Browning and Justin Hilliard stepped forward as options to slide into the starting lineup, with both former 5-star recruits more than capable of helping Ohio State absorb the loss of Borland.
Demario McCall is healthy and dangerous
Even when the dynamic offensive weapon was injured last year, the buzz about Demario McCall’s future never really died down. But now it’s about to kicked into an even higher gear after he stole the show in the spring game. Heading into spring camp, it looked like the sophomore would carve out a role as a returner on special teams but might struggle to crack the offensive rotation. Then he exploded for 11 catches for 165 yards and a pair of touchdowns that showed why Ohio State has always been so anxious to get him healthy and fully involved in the offensive attack. That time appears to be coming now, and McCall is heading into the offseason with all the momentum he could need.