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What to know about Ohio State football on the field this preseason

The Ohio State Buckeyes returned to the practice field Friday to start the preseason without head coach Urban Meyer. 

His being placed on leave dominated headlines for two days prior, and that story continues to develop as the university investigates what Meyer knew about allegations of domestic abuse by one of his assistant coaches. 

>>TIMELINE of events leading to Meyer being placed on leave

The football season will go on as scheduled (with Ryan Day serving as interim head coach), though, and the Buckeyes have plenty to do while they prepare for their season-opening visit from Oregon State on Sept. 1. 

Here are five things to know about OSU football this preseason: 

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1. Ohio State has roughly 12 starters back from the 2017 Big Ten champions. 

That counts at least a couple of players who were starters part-time or for just part of the season. 

On offense, every significant receiver returns as two 1,000-yard rushers in Mike Weber and J.K. Dobbins. 

Defensively, Ohio State lost 11 of 33 letter-winners but returns All-American end Nick Bosa among several players who rotated up front last season, including Wayne High School product Robert Landers. 

>>RELATED: Ohio State shuts down media access to team

The linebacking corps will have a new look with Chris Worley and Jerome Baker gone and Tuf Borland coming back from an Achilles injury.

The secondary returns Jordan Fuller at safety and Damon Arnette at cornerback.  

2. The roster includes six area players. 

The Cox Media Group Ohio coverage area is represented by Landers, Derrick Malone (tight end, Thurgood Marshall), Zaid Hamdan (defensive tackle, Mason), Josh Myers (offensive lineman, Miamisburg), L’Christian “Blue” Smith (receiver, Wayne) and Demetrius Knox (offensive lineman, Springfield native, graduated from high school in Texas). 

Landers has been a member of deep defensive line rotations the last two seasons and figures to be heavily involved again this fall. 

>>WATCH: Area players preview the Big Ten

Knox finished last season as a starter while Myers is in the mix to be the team’s No. 1 center after taking a redshirt in 2017. 

Malone and Hamdan are walk-ons while Smith is a highly regarded freshman. 

Ohio State has had at least one former Wayne Warrior on the roster every season since 2000. 

Ohio State defensive tackle Robert Landers, a Wayne High School graduate, is back for a third season on the field this year. But he will have some new responsibilities off the field, as coach Larry Johnson can attest.

3. There’s going to be a new quarterback and perhaps a different emphasis on offense. 

Dwayne Haskins Jr. will begin the season as the No. 1 quarterback, but Meyer did not rule out Tate Martell pushing him in the preseason (before Meyer was placed on leave). 

A sophomore from Maryland, Haskins brings a different skillset than predecessor J.T. Barrett. He has a big arm but less mobility, so don’t look for him to log anywhere near the 165 carries Barrett had as a senior. 

Removing the crutch of the quarterback run could actually open up the OSU offense, though. 

>>RELATED: The top 10 Ohio State quarterbacks ever

4. Expectations? Yeah, they’re high. 

Ohio State is No. 3 in the preseason coaches poll. 

Advanced stats at SBNation predict the Buckeyes will be the best team in the land while Phil Steele put Ohio State third in his preseason top 40. 

The Buckeyes are the favorite to win the Big Ten East and the conference championship game. 

»PRESEASON PRIMER: 5 things to know about Big Ten for 2018

5. The schedule could be challenging. 

Four Ohio State opponents are in the top 16 of the preseason coaches poll: No. 9 Penn State, No. 12 Michigan State, No. 14 Michigan and No. 16 TCU. 

The Buckeyes and Horned Frogs are set to tangle in week three in Arlington, Texas. 

»PRESEASON PRIMER: 5 things to know about Big Ten for 2018

Two weeks later, OSU heads to Happy Valley to take on the Nittany Lions with a trip to Michigan State set for Nov. 10. 

Michigan will come to Columbus on Nov. 24. 

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