After looking at depth chart movement on offense during the spring at Ohio State, we turn our gaze toward the defense.
The Silver Bullets entered spring with more questions yet also might have come up with more answers than the offense.
Here is a breakdown:
Starters: J.T. Tuimolau, Jack Sawyer
Also in the mix: Kenyatta Jackson, Caden Curry, Omari Abor
The two at the top are not a surprise, but Sawyer seemed to show this spring he could join Tuimoloau as a five-star living up to his billing this fall.
Jackson was the big revelation this spring as the second-year man from Florida showed off a bigger, more powerful frame while Curry looks to build on a solid freshman season and give coach Larry Johnson a strong rotation on each side of the line.
Starters: Mike Hall Jr., Tyleik Williams and Ty Hamilton
Also in the mix: Hero Kanu, Jaden McKenzie
Ohio State is not moving to a 50 front, but Hall shared time with Hamilton at nose tackle and Williams at 3-technique so both spots could have co-starters situations.
Hamilton is a stout presence in the middle, Williams looks like he can become a disruptive force at the other tackle spot, and Hall could be a mix of the two.
Redshirt freshman Kanu had several notable plays in the spring game and could provide depth at nose tackle while McKenzie showed signs of coming on as a fifth-year player.
Starters: Tommy Eichenberg, Steele Chambers
Also in the mix: Cody Simon, C.J. Hicks, Gabe Powers, Reid Carrico
This position got deeper with both starters out by the end of spring. That allowed Simon to get back into a groove after an injury-plagued 2022 and provided more snaps for sophomores Hicks and Powers to work up and gain valuable experience.
The present and future both look bright here.
In the mix: Mitchell Melton, Hicks
The hybrid position in Jim Knowles’ defense took a backseat in the spring, but he said he is eyeing Mitchell for it when the third-year end/linebacker is cleared to return fully from knee surgery.
Hicks is also a candidate to fill the role in no small part because playing time at linebacker could be hard to come by assuming the older players are healthy.
Starters: Denzel Burke, TBD
Competitors: Jordan Hancock, Jyaire Brown, Davison Igbinosun,
Also in the mix: Ryan Turner, Jermaine Mathews
Burke and Hancock both had nice springs after injuries hurt them last fall. Brown got praise for his work at cornerback and nickel while Igbinosun turned heads with his big frame and long arms. The Mississippi transfer also was credited by coaches for helping increase the competitiveness in practice.
Starters: Josh Proctor (“Adjustor”/free safety), Lathan Ransom (“Bandit”, boundary safety), TBD (nickel)
In the mix: Sonny Styles, Kye Stokes, Cam Martinez, Ja’Had Carter, Malik Hartford, Kourt Williams (injured)
Ransom is a returning starter while Proctor is looking to lock down a spot in his sixth season on campus.
Styles, a sophomore and son of former Buckeye Lorenzo Styles, could play either deep spot and his been itching to show what he can do while Stokes and Hartford have flashed potential as well.
Martinez is the heir apparent at nickel, but Carter was expected to push him after transferring from Syracuse. Carter missed the second half of spring with a leg injury, though, so it remains to be seen what he can do.
Hartford, a true freshman from Lakota West, might have a hard time finding the field this fall but has made a good first impression with the coaches.
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