Ohio State football: Breaking down updates to Buckeyes’ spring roster

Credit: Darron Cummings

Credit: Darron Cummings

Ohio State football coach Ryan Day opened spring practice this week with a list of personnel updates.

Here is a rundown of some things going on with the Buckeyes roster:

1. Cade Stover is going to play defense — probably.

Ohio’s 2018 Mr. Football has changed positions multiple times since arriving in Columbus, but he appeared to have a home at tight end — until he was needed at linebacker in the Rose Bowl and acquitted himself well.

“I think he is trying to figure out how he could fit into the scheme,” Day said. “We’ve gone back and forth on that. He may come over to tight end and do a little bit of work there as we go. He’s trying to figure that out still, which side he wants to play.

“I think he is wired to play defense. If you asked him what he wanted to do, it would be defense, but he also wants to have a major impact on the team. I’ve always felt like you want to allow the opportunity for guys to choose where they want to play because they put their whole heart into it.”

Without Stover, Day acknowledged the Buckeyes are thin at tight end. Jeremy Ruckert is out of eligibility, and senior Mitch Rossi won’t practice this spring because of an injury.

“We are looking to see what Gee Scott can do,” Day said of the converted receiver. “He has put a year in. Some of the young guys will have to step up.”

2. Josh Proctor is back, but he is not full-go.

The senior safety missed most of last season with a broken leg, but he could prove to be crucial as the quarterback of the defense at free safety.

“He’s going to start working his way back into drills as we get back off of spring break,” said Day, whose team is set to work out this week then take a week off before returning for four straight weeks of work leading up to the April 16 spring game. “I don’t know if he will be full-go by the end of spring. He is working through his rehab. We are looking forward to getting him back into drills as we push into the middle of spring.”

3. Harry Miller is still out, and it is not clear why.

The Georgia native was expected to be the starting center last season, but injuries derailed his junior campaign. He was not seen with the line Tuesday when reporters could watch early parts of practice, and Day did not elaborate on why.

“We have I guess 10 guys who are not available this spring for different reasons,” Day said. “We just kind of keep it to the availability list. There are different reasons for everybody. Once we get done with the spring, we will reevaluate everybody in that area.”

The others who are out completely are Rossi, walk-on linebackers Cade Kacherski and Ryan Batsch, defensive linemen Jacolbe Cowan and Tyler Friday, running back Marcus Crowley, defensive backs Jantzen Dunn and Lathan Ransom and offensive lineman Josh Fryar.

4. Day expects Paris Johnson Jr. to be a natural at left tackle.

A five-star recruit from Cincinnati, Johnson played right guard as a sophomore last season but will move to left tackle this year.

“He’s played it his whole life other than last year so it will not be new to him, but this will be his first time starting out there (in college),” Day said. “He’s going to grab on to it and own it.

“His approach every day, his work ethic, all of those things are really off the charts. I know he already has a great relationship with (new offensive line coach Justin Frye). This is just the start to it. We will kind of get an idea of where we are about midway through. He has high aspirations. He is a high achiever. When he sets his mind to something, it usually happens.”

5. Ohio State is likely to return to playing a bunch of receivers regularly.

Coach Brian Hartline shortened his rotation last season with veterans Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson having earned the lion’s share of snaps via years of work, but he has traditionally tried to go six deep at the position.

Look for that to be more the case this season as Olave and Wilson are headed to the NFL.

“What you try to do is you try to find one,” Day said. “Then you try to find two and you try to find three. You try to find four. As many as guys who deserve to get on the field and have reps are going to get reps. We typically like to roll those guys if we can, but they have to get out there and earn that work.”

Jaxon Smith-Njigba was the team leader statistically lasts season working primarily from the slot. He’ll be the No. 1 receiver this season and play multiple spots while senior Kamryn Babb, junior Julian Fleming, sophomores Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka and redshirt freshman Jayden Ballard compete for playing time.

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