Everything that led to Ohio State making an incredible run to the postseason and winning a national championship started after the Virginia Tech game. After the Buckeyes suffered a 35-21 loss on their home field, questions arose about true freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett and the hopes of making a title run seemed slim, if near impossible. Of course, we all know how it turned out. Barrett and the rest of Urban Meyer's team quickly formed into a powerhouse that rolled through the remaining regular season, blew out Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship game (despite the loss of Barrett), en route to two extremely well-played games against Alabama and Oregon.
While the release of the depth chart above doesn't reveal who will get the starting nod at quarterback, Urban Meyer really can't make a wrong decision. Between the regular season starter last year in J.T. Barrett and the championship-driving starter in Cardale Jones, Meyer's job is simply to figure out which quarterback gives the team the best chance to win while providing the required leadership. The country will have to wait a few more days before they find out which quarterback steps on the field Monday night.
At running back, Ezekiel Elliott is the clear-cut starter as he enters his first season as a Heisman contender after the impressive finish in the postseason, where he rushed for over 200 yards against Wisconsin, Alabama, and Oregon. Slotted behind Elliott is sophomore Bri'onte Dunn is listed as the backup running back over Warren Ball, after a really strong fall camp.
Michael Thomas was a lock for one of the starting wide receiver spots, but after Evan Spencer graduating, the spot opposite of Thomas was up for grabs. The depth chart has senior Corey Smith as the starter who backed up Spencer last season and played meaningful minutes in 2014, showing flashes of his playmaking ability. But Smith is one of four players suspended for the opener against Virginia Tech, so the chart lists James Clark OR Johnnie Dixon OR Terry McLaurin will take his spot for the time being. Expect all three to see the field. Backing up Thomas is Parris Campbell OR Jeff Greene.
Making his first start at a position other than quarterback, Braxton Miller returns to the field for Ohio State as the starting H-back OR Curtis Samuel, with Jalin Marshall and Dontre Wilson serving their one-game suspension. K.J. Hill is listed as the third option.
The tight end spot is firmly locked down by Nick Vannett, with Marcus Baugh listed as the backup. No surprise there, but I would expect to see a fair amount of playing time from Baugh as well. Vannett gets his chance to be the unquestioned starter after Jeff Heuerman used up his eligibility and is expected to produce a solid work load this season.
The offensive line returns four of their five starters up front, with Taylor Decker, Billy Price, Jacoby Boren, and Pat Elflein returning (from left to right). Stepping up at right tackle is senior Chase Farris.
On the defensive side of the ball, Sam Hubbard OR Jalyn Holmes are listed as one of the defensive end starters, with Joey Bosa missing the first game due to a suspension. Tyquan Lewis slides in at the other end against the Hokies. In the middle, Adolphus Washington anchors the defensive line alongside Tommy Schutt, who backed up Michael Bennett last season. The backups at tackle include Donovan Munger OR Tracy Sprinkle and Joel Hale OR Michael Hill.
The linebacking core is one of the most talented on the team, as all three players have experienced a national championship season and only look to improve from last season. Joshua Perry enters his final season as a Buckeye at weak-outside linebacker, opposite of strong-outside linebacker Darron Lee. Lee played lights out last season as a freshman (and a converted quarterback/safety). Raekwon McMillan is slotted in at middle linebacker with high expectations after a quality amount of playing time last season.
At cornerback, Gareon Conley and Eli Apple man the outside edges with Damon Webb and Marshon Lattimore OR Denzel Ward listed as the backups. For safeties, the starters remain the same as last season, with Vonn Bell and Tyvis Powell. Erick Smith is listed as the backup to Bell, while Cam Burrows is under Powell.
For special teams, there's a battle for the placekicking spot between Jack Willoughby OR Sean Nuernberger, the starter from last season. The kickoffs will be handled by Willoughby, and Cameron Johnston returns as the punter. An interesting selection at punt return, as Braxton Miller is given the go-ahead to return punts, with Curtis Samuel backing him up. Handling kickoff returns, however, is Curtis Samuel and Warren Ball. The long-snapping duties stay with Bryce Haynes, and holding for kicks is Cameron Johnston.