Joey Bosa, Jalin Marshall, Dontre Wilson and Corey Smith were all supposed to make key plays against Virginia Tech on opening night, but they will be forced to watch from the sidelines. Earlier this afternoon, the four contributors were suspended by the team, due to a violation of the athletic department policy.
What will be widely be looked at as a huge negative to begin the 2015 season will ultimately give talented backups the chance to make their mark on opening night. We look at who will replace arguably the best defensive lineman in the country, two starters, and a key contributor on offense:
It will not be easy to replace the 2014 consensus All-American's disruption and production, as Bosa totaled 55 total tackles, 21 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks. But defensive line coach Larry Johnson will throw a couple of guys into a rotation against Virginia Tech.
Redshirt sophomore Tyquan Lewis, who had a monster spring, is slated to start across from Bosa, replacing the departed Steve Miller. Sophomore Jalyn Holmes, redshirt freshman Darius Slade and redshirt freshman Sam Hubbard will most likely be in a rotation, along with Lewis, at both defensive end positions.
Bosa's replacements will be young, yet very talented. All of them were highly ranked recruits coming out of high school and have done nothing but gain the respect and praise of Johnson, who has sent a number of defensive linemen to the NFL.
"Tyquan is having a great spring, really great spring," Johnson said to reporters back in April. "Jalyn is starting to be the player we think he can be. Sam's kinda out of nowhere, but really got a chance to be really dynamic also."
Look for Lewis and Holmes to start across from each other, on the first defensive snap of the season for the Buckeyes, while the most dominant defensive lineman in the country looks on from the sidelines.
Replacing Marshall, Wilson and Smith
When looking at the H-back and wide receiver depth chart, you will see an embarrassment of riches in the two and three-deep chart.
Replacing Smith will be the easiest of the three to replace. Although Smith was penciled in as the third or second wide receiver, there are multiple young and talented players behind him who would have pushed him for playing time. Enter Johnny Dixon and Noah Brown.
Dixon is the best and most polished wide receiver prospect that Meyer has recruited and Brown saw some action late in the 2014 season. Brown may get the starting nod, due to his experience in big games and his physicality on the outside, but Dixon will be looked at to replace Smith's potential receptions. Redshirt freshman Terry McLaurin will be another name that may see playing time at receiver on opening night.
Looking back at the positional changes that occurred during the spring, they may have had an underlying meaning. Marshall was rumored to be making the switch to wide receiver, but him and Wilson were most likely going to split time in the slot and at H-back.
Rumors started to swirl about these suspensions back in April, at the same time that Curtis Samuel started to get reps at the H-back position. Samuel will be the likely opening night starter at the pivot position, with Braxton Miller getting thrown into the fire right away at his new position. Another underclassmen that may see the field at H-back will be redshirt freshman Parris Campbell, who had heads turning in spring practice.
When Miller told Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel that he was switching positions last week, he mentioned that he was practicing returning punts. It should be safe to pencil in Miller as the starting punt returner in week one, which should be dazzling. After Wilson went down with a broken foot in the Michigan State game, Samuel took over the kick return duties. He may not be the game breaker that people are looking for in that spot, but he is reliable and makes good decisions in the return game.