"When the game starts and the bullets start flying, and we start going against the ones in practice, he's very calm, cool and collected. He's very tough, he's physical, he knows what's going on. You can tell he's been in there a little bit. He's a little further ahead poise-wise and maturity-wise than those other guys."
Junior offensive tackle Jamarco Jones is likely to be Ohio State's starting left tackle and while he might not have the experience expected from a leader on the offensive line, in spring practice he's certainly caught the attention of those around him with his consistent play. On a line that is replacing three of its five starters, Jones will be looked up to by his teammates. He's played here and there but for the most part has seen older or simply better players in front of him on the depth chart for the last two seasons. But Jones learned everything he could from Taylor Decker, the previous starting left tackle, and will look to be a rock from the start for the Buckeyes.
On the other side is sophomore tackle Isaiah Prince, who had very little playing time as a true freshman. Prince will be stepping up at right tackle as Ohio State prepares for its season. With the inexperience on the tackles, it will be up to the coaching staff and the players to be fully prepared for what's ahead. A shaky offensive line hurt Ohio State plenty of times last season and didn't really start hitting it off until too late in the season. This time around, Urban Meyer is making it a priority to have these guys ready to play at a high level.
"Mike Thomas just doesn't come here [to hang out]; he comes here to help coach. I see Eli Apple out there talking to Damon Arnette; that's a big part of what separates us from a lot of places. Those kids all come back and have the ownership. Taylor Decker is here for a lot of reasons, one to lift and train, but also to help Isaiah Prince and Jamarco Jones."
Though already declared for the NFL draft, former Ohio State players such as Michael Thomas and Eli Apple have been invaluable for Urban Meyer as he tries to coach the next round of players looking to replace the stars lost to the draft and graduation. Throughout spring practices, Apple and Thomas have both been helping out with providing tips and coaching up the younger Buckeyes. They aren't the only two players to hang around Columbus and the facility, though, as plenty of players from last year's roster have come back to help in any way they can. While the former Buckeyes wait for their names to be called in the draft, Meyer has appreciated their presence and willingness to help the team they moved on from.
Coach Meyer would surely like to have any of those players left to help fill in spots on the depth chart that's slowly forming, but having to replace 11 names is no easy task. Spring and summer/early fall practices will obviously help make those final decisions, but the lack of experience is something that has to be weighing on the head coach's mind at the several position groups. It's still very neat to see former players that care about helping the program and wanting to still see it succeed and if they can help out with getting the new players comfortable, that's just an added bonus.
"Ohio State WR Noah Brown: The Buckeyes were raving about Brown's potential all spring and summer last year. But less than a week before the season opener, Brown broke his left leg during practice. He's practicing this spring, albeit not at full speed, and could be a contributor this season as Ohio State looks for some playmakers at wideout."
ESPN's Brian Bennett broke down some of the top Big Ten comeback players for the 2016 season. Ohio State's representative was wide receiver Noah Brown, who returns to the Buckeyes after breaking his leg early in the Buckeyes' season last year. There was a fairly high amount of excitement coming from Ohio State's camp from both the players and coaching staff about Brown's potential as a key threat in the Buckeyes' receiving core. Brown's injury only added to the quickly depleted roster at wide receiver for Ohio State, with injuries to several of its players before and even during the season taking place. With a healthier squad so far, and Brown almost nearing the end of his recovery, things are looking up for Ohio State's receiving core with J.T. Barrett still at quarterback ready to distribute.
With Brown inching closer to being full-go, it's possible he could have a breakout season. With a roster of younger receivers and several spots for the taking, the battles at wide receiver will certainly be some of the more interesting ones to keep an eye on throughout the camps. Corey Smith, K.J. Hill, Johnnie Dixon, and the others are all capable of securing spots on the field and could end up being household names come end of the season. Brown's return is significant though, and if healthy, could be one of the starters come fall.