COLUMBUS, Ohio — On a roster as deep as Ohio State’s, spring practice is more about the young players than the established veterans.
Ohio State knows what it’s going to get from players such as Parris Campbell and Johnnie Dixon, so older players often get limited reps in practice and the spring game. With so much young talent on this team, the competition can be fierce.
What follows is an alphabetical look at the five biggest breakout stars on offense from Ohio State spring practice.
TE Luke Farrell
Luke Farrell was part of a three-player tight end class in 2016 that didn’t do much over its first two seasons except get passed on the depth chart by Rashod Berry, who came to Ohio State as a defensive end. However, Farrell could be the player to change that.
On the Big Ten coaches teleconference the week of the spring game, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said Farrell had advanced ahead of the other tight ends, but his place on the depth chart hadn’t been finalized. Following the spring game, Meyer indicated that Farrell had a firm grip on the top tight end spot.
“As we finish practice, he’ll be the starting tight end at Ohio State,” Meyer said. “He has had a very good spring. As of now, he’s [the starter]. He’s earned that right.”
WR Jaylen Harris
Though he played sparingly in his debut season last year, Harris began to show signs of his tremendous potential at the end of the 2017 season.
“Jaylen Harris, he’s been doing really well,” Sam Hubbard said during Cotton Bowl interviews. “He’s a very talented receiver. I like watching him a lot. He’s been coming on a lot since the middle of the season when he learned how to shake that freshman fatigue.”
While the Ohio State receivers are as talent-rich as ever with all but one player from last season’s team returning, Harris appears ready to force his way onto the field. His touchdown catch from Dwayne Haskins was the best play of the 2018 Ohio State spring game, and it showed how much of a threat he can be to opposing defenses.
H-back Demario McCall
The H-back spot is among Ohio State’s deepest positions, if not the deepest, and Demario McCall’s performance in the spring game gave the latest such indication. With Campbell playing limited snaps and K.J. Hill out of spring practice because of shoulder surgery, McCall took a star turn with 11 catches for 165 yards and 2 touchdowns.
McCall already feels like a star because of his rock-star status among Ohio State fans dating back to his days as a recruit, but he hasn’t had a chance to show it on the field. After a freshman season in which he impressed at the end of some blowouts, McCall was hampered in 2017 by a groin injury that kept him out of all but four games and forced a medical redshirt. Now that he’s healthy and fully an H-back, big things could be on the way if he can carve out some playing time.
“Demario got way better transitioning from running back to receiver,” wide receiver Binjimen Victor said. “He had the whole spring to work at it. I feel like he’s getting there. He’s going to help us contribute in the fall.”
OL Thayer Munford
One year after arriving as one of the lowest-ranked prospects in Ohio State’s Class of 2017, Munford seems assured of a starting role in his second season. As a first-year player in 2017, Munford worked his way into the two-deep and got on the field against Michigan when Isaiah Prince briefly exited with an injury.
With Jamarco Jones off to the NFL, Munford appears destined to pair with Prince at a tackle spot. Munford started the spring game at left tackle with Prince at right tackle, but the duo eventually swapped spots. Meyer said the coaching staff was experimenting.
“We’ve done both, and that decision hasn’t been made yet. Isaiah’s been playing a lot of left, too, and I think we’re just trying to get that rotation of who is going to be the third tackle,” Meyer said. “So we’re just kind of figuring out what’s best.”
RB Master Teague
Will a freshman be able to crack the running back rotation at Ohio State? With Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins battling for carries and reliable backup Antonio Williams also in the fold, there may not be much of an opportunity for others. However, Master Teague showed in the spring game that he’s ready if needed.
The early enrollee rushed for 73 yards on 14 attempts, averaging more than 5 yards per rush. Will that translate to playing time in the fall? At the very least, the Buckeyes know they have a running back room that goes four deep. And since Teague’s blazing speed will earn him a special teams role this season, there will be no need to avoid giving him carries in blowouts to protect a year of eligibility.