COLUMBUS — Any potential for a dramatic finish to the quarterback battle was squashed by an injury to Devin Brown, but there are plenty of positions to watch with interest in Ohio State’s spring game Saturday.
Here is a rundown:
The top four returnees (Marvin Harrison Jr., Emeka Egbuka, Julian Fleming and Xavier Johnson) figure to play little, if at all, as they recover from or look to avoid injuries, but receivers coach/offensive coordinator Brian Hartline still has a bunch of freshmen and sophomores to deploy.
While he hopes to see some step up and earn a spot in the rotation this fall, this will be the first chance for fans to see a handful of highly regarded recruits in Ohio State uniforms.
Carnell Tate, a true freshman from Chicago, might be the most intriguing as he bids to jump over some talented second-year players who have yet to find a niche.
The group will be working against a secondary that Day has praised as showing much-needed improvement this spring.
Ohio State is about five deep at defense end.
In a sign of the times, head coach Ryan Day described that as “somewhat thin,” but it also means there is no shortage of challenges for the players competing to be the new starting offensive tackles.
Battles between Josh Fryar, Tegra Tshabola, Zen Michalski and others against the likes of J.T. Tuimoloau, Jack Sawyer, Caden Curry could give a window into just how much work remains to be done on the offensive side to be ready for the real games this fall.
Center also remains unsettled with redshirt freshman Carson Hinzman battling Louisiana-Monroe transfer Victor Cutler.
Cade Stover is back for his senior season, but Day said he likes what he has seen from upper classmen Joe Royer and Gee Scott Jr. this spring as well.
How well the latter two play this spring and in the preseason could have a big impact on how the offense looks this fall.
If the coaching staff feels the second and/or third tight end are better than the second-team receivers, the Buckeyes could take the field with multiple tight ends half the time or even more.
“We want to put the best players on the field and try to adapt from there, but (two tight end looks) do give us some things that (three receiver looks) don’t,” Day said.
True freshman Jelani Thurman is also an interesting addition to the room.
“To think about a guy that we’ve had, at that age come in with this much talent, I don’t know if we’ve had one since I’ve been here.”
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