COLUMBUS, Ohio — A new season is underway for Ohio State football.
The Buckeyes returned to the field for their first spring practice Tuesday, their first on-field activity since the Cotton Bowl win against USC in December. Media were allowed to view the first hour of practice.
Here’s what we saw:
- Ohio State opened practice as always with a punt period. Sophomore punter Drue Chrisman was booming his kicks. Punt returners were H-back Demario McCall, wide receiver Johnnie Dixon and wide receiver C.J. Saunders. However, it’s worth noting that 2017 punt returner K.J. Hill was in a sling and not participating.
- With that being said, this could be a great opportunity for McCall to assert himself. Because of the depth at H-back as well as his injury problems, chances for McCall have been limited. With Parris Campbell and Hill each back in 2018, McCall likely will be the No. 3 H-back at best. But he has a chance to show coaches what he can do in the return game, and that might be a way to give him some touches.
- Quarterbacks Dwayne Haskins and Joe Burrow appeared to be splitting reps. There was a noticeable gap between the amount of reps they got compared to Tate Martell. Early enrollee Matthew Baldwin, who sustained a knee injury in December, didn’t take part in drills.
- Fresh off of participating in the NFL combine, former Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year Tyquan Lewis was in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center watching practice. Lewis spent time observing the defensive ends and spoke with Nick Bosa as the Buckeyes went through drills.
- Chase Young will be unblockable in 2018. He looks as strong and athletic as Bosa, and he was a force in drills. I have no idea what offensive lines will do when Bosa and Young are on the field at the same time. Bosa is projected to join his brother, Joey, as a top-10 pick in the NFL draft, and Young appears to be in that mold, too.
- It was striking to see how few defensive ends Ohio State has, with Jonathan Cooper the only other scholarship end at the moment. That lack of depth made it all the more important for Ohio State to close strong at that position on the recruiting trail in January.
- Conversely, defensive tackle appears deeper than ever. It will be a huge battle for playing time at that spot, especially with returning starter Dre’Mont Jones holding one of those two spots.
- Keandre Jones and Malik Harrison lined up as first-team outside linebackers, with Tuf Borland in the middle.
- Cornerback Kendall Sheffield made a great interception, jumping in front of a slant.
- Here’s how the first-team offensive line lined up from left to right: Isaiah Prince, Malcolm Pridgeon, Brady Taylor, Demetrius Knox, Thayer Munford.
- The second-team offensive line from left to right was Josh Alabi, Matthew Burrell, Josh Myers, Wyatt Davis and Kevin Woidke.
- Starting left guard Michael Jordan and starting right guard Branden Bowen were not participating because of injuries.
- New safeties coach Alex Grinch brings intensity. He was engaged and energetic throughout the media viewing period.
- There’s a new Long Live The Brotherhood banner hanging in the indoor practice facility.
- The video board displayed a three-part message for players:
- 1. Are you a 5?
- 2. What’s your W/L?
- 3. Strain to finish