One thing is for sure, Ohio State is going to look very different next season, especially on offense. Stalwarts like Taylor Decker, Ezekiel Elliott, Michael Thomas and Cardale Jones, among others, are all headed to the NFL. The Buckeyes will need to count on multiple underclassmen next season. But which ones?
It's very early for this sort of thing, since players will still declare for the NFL Draft, spring ball, injuries and more could impact who will be on Ohio State's roster before the start of next season. Regardless, here's our first educated guess for how the offensive depth chart might shake out next season.
J.T. Barrett (RS Junior)
Joe Burrow (RS Freshman)
Stephen Collier (RS Junior)
There's not much uncertainty here at the top, as Barrett will be the undisputed starter for next season. His backup will most likely be Burrow, a former four-star who impressed last season and has drawn comparisons to Alex Smith. The third QB spot is much less settled though. Will Torrance Gibson, who played QB in high school, make a return to the QB room after practicing at wideout in 2015? If Ohio State flips blue chip recruit Dwayne Haskins, could he challenge Collier for the QB3 spot? The depth at this position group doesn't look as strong as it did the year before, but Ohio State does have some exciting young talent coming soon, and if the Buckeyes can add a solid QB in this recruiting class, the group will look a little bit better.
Curtis Samuel (Junior)
Mike Weber (RS Freshman)
Antonio Williams (Freshman) OR Bri'onte Dunn (Senior)
Ezekiel Elliott leaves some massive shoes to fill, but that doesn't mean that Ohio State won't have options. The Buckeyes could move Curtis Samuel back from H-Back to perhaps his more natural position and give him the lion's share of the carries. They could also work in Weber, a more traditional running back who redshirted last season. The most likely scenario is that Ohio State uses both. Blue chip freshman Antonio Williams will be an early enrollee and could push for playing time as well, but it is probably likely that he, along with Bri'onte Dunn, would contribute more on special teams next season.
Dontre Wilson (Senior)
Demario McCall (Freshman)
How Ohio State uses the H-Back will be interesting this year. Curtis Samuel would see plenty of snaps in this spot if he isn't taking snaps at running back, and we're assuming that Jalin Marshall heads off to the NFL, taking him out of contention. If he's healthy, Dontre Wilson would likely get the nod here, but don't rule out highly regarded true freshman Demario McCall.
Parris Campbell (Sophomore)
Torrance Gibson (RS Freshman) OR Austin Mack (Freshman)
These are the toughest groups to forecast, since Ohio State will return almost no production at these positions. Parris Campbell got a start last season, so sliding him into a starting slot is a fair educated guess, but he'll have to fight off some serious challenges. Torrance Gibson had a rocky freshman year, but has the size and strength to be an excellent lead wideout, and Austin Mack is one of Ohio State's best regarded WR recruits.
Noah Brown (RS Sophomore)
Terry McClaurin (RS Sophomore)
K.J. Hill (RS Freshman)
Same situation here. Noah Brown is very likely to be one of the starting wideouts (he would have played a lot if he hadn't broken a leg last season), but a slew of other names could separate themselves here. McClaurin is a speedster who has been a solid special teams contributor, and Hill was a blue chip recruit that seems to have a bright future. Others, like Johnnie Dixon, or other Buckeye recruiting targets (Donnie Corley?) could find themselves in the mix.
Marcus Baugh (RS Junior)
Jake Hausmann (Freshman) OR Luke Farrell (Freshman)
Marcus Baugh is probably the overwhelming favorite to grab this starting position, but the Buckeyes signed two high four-star TE prospects in this recruiting class, and if Baugh falters, or gets hurt, Ohio State will have talented, but very inexperienced options behind him. Redshirt freshman A.J Alexander could also potentially get involved in this group, but Baugh and the rookies seem to be the most likely.
Jamarco Jones (RS Sophomore)
Branden Bowen (RS Freshman)
Jones, a highly regarded former four-star recruit, is the heavy favorite to slide in at the left tackle spot. There are a slew of possible options for his backup on the two-deep, many of them young. We'll guess that Branden Bowen, a massive redshirt freshman from Utah, cracks the two deep, but fellow redshirt freshman Grant Schmidt, or others, could seize the spot as well.
Billy Price (Junior)
Demetrius Knox (RS Sophomore)
This is where things get a little more tricky. Price is the more experienced option, but others, like Knox, could potentially provide more upside. Some of Ohio State's new recruits, like Tyler Gerald, could even potentially get involved in this race as well.
Pat Elflein (Senior)
Brady Taylor (RS Sophomore)
If there is any position on the offensive line that you can write in marker, it would Elflein at center. The most experienced and the most steady player in the group, Elflein is a lock to start, sliding over to center.
Matthew Burrell (RS Freshman)
Evan Lisle (RS Junior)
This might be the other most contested position on the line. Lisle was a highly regarded recruit that hasn't cracked the regular rotation very much. Burrell was nearly as well regarded a recruit, and might have the slim upper hand in this race.
Isaiah Prince (Sophomore)
Kevin Feder (RS Freshman)
Prince was one of the very few true freshman to actually play last season, and is probably the strong favorite to slide in at the other tackle spot. One of the big redshirt freshmen, like Kevin Feder, could be a good bet to be his backup though.