The 2016 Ohio State season is over, and even though the team still made the playoff, knocked off multiple top-ten programs, and beat Michigan in a way that’s guaranteed their fans will be mad all summer, the season ended on a sour note, and has raised some questions for Buckeye fans. The offense has now sputtered for two consecutive seasons, and now there’s an assistant coaching shakeup.
We know that Ryan Day, and almost certainly Kevin Wilson, will be working as offensive coaches, although we don’t know exactly how everybody will fit together yet. But what about the players?
It’s early. We don’t know exactly who is headed to the NFL yet, and who is staying, or how the 2017 recruiting class might factor in. But everybody is thinking about it anyway, so here’s our first guess on how Ohio State’s 2017 depth chart might look on offense for next season.
J.T. Barrett (RS Senior)
Dwayne Haskins (RS Freshman)
There are probably some Buckeye fans who wouldn’t mind if Barrett lost his job, or at least had a real QB competition, given the talent in this QB room. But given how highly Kevin Wilson thinks of Barrett, his experience, leadership, comfort level with the zone-read, and the youth of the other potential challengers, somebody other than Barrett holding down this starting job would be a major surprise. We like Haskins to beat out Joe Burrow for the backup spot, but that should be a real battle. They’re both good!
Mike Weber (RS Sophomore)
Antonio Williams (RS Freshman)
No surprise here, after a 1,000+ yard plus campaign as a freshman, this is 100% Weber’s job. The only question will be whether he increases his carries, or splits them with Williams, H-backs, or other running backs, like incoming freshman J.K. Dobbins.
Demario McCall (Sophomore)
J.K. Dobbins (Freshman) OR Tyjon Lindsey (Freshman)
We’re operating on the assumption that Curtis Samuel decides to go to the NFL (something that isn’t a slam dunk by any means). Obviously, if he sticks around, he’s manning this spot and remaining the focal point of the offense. McCall, a highly rated recruit who exploded multiple times during garbage time in 2016, looks primed to get lots of touches in this spot next season.
Marcus Baugh (RS Senior)
A.J. Alexander (RS Sophomore)
No big surprises here, as Baugh has locked down this spot for a while, and flashed at times in 2016. Jake Hausmann has the most upside of the backups in this group, but A.J. Alexander may be the superior blocker, and has the edge in experience. We think he holds on to the backup spot, and grabs a few more snaps this season.
Noah Brown (RS Junior)
K.J. Hill (RS Sophomore)
Now, the position group of great suspense. Brown started last season, was praised all throughout camp, had a monster game against Oklahoma, and then otherwise disappointed during the year. Hill came on stronger as the season went along, pushing for more playing time. Who “starts” might be moot, since both players will assuredly play, and we’ll give Brown the slight edge, given his blocking ability and experience.
Ben Victor (Sophomore)
Parris Campbell (RS Junior) OR Terry McLaurin (RS Junior)
Another possible arbitrary distinction, as both are likely to play, although Victor’s size and polish forced Ohio State’s coaches to put him on the field near the end of the season. Campbell has struggled over the last two seasons, but the potential is there, and we figure he’ll still get plenty of snaps. Other plays, like Austin Mack and Trevon Grimes, will push for playing time at this spot as well.
Jamarco Jones (Senior)
Branden Bowen (RS Sophomore)
It would be a big upset for Jones to lose this spot. Bowen has appeared on the two deep already, and could play either tackle position if Jones went down.
Michael Jordan (Sophomore)
Wyatt Davis (Freshman)
Jordan showed he was a true freshman starting at Ohio State at times last season, but all things considered, acquitted himself very well, and shows he has a bright future on the line for the Buckeyes. His backup isn’t immediately clear right now, but Ohio State is bringing in a five star, Wyatt Davis, who is ranked as the top guard in the country. He’s probably good enough to not redshirt.
Billy Price (Senior)
Brady Taylor (RS Junior)
Go ahead and write this one in pen, as Price has already announced he’s returning, and planning on sliding over to center.
Malcolm Pridgeon (RS Junior)
Demetrius Knox (RS Junior)
This is the position we feel the least confident about. If Prince is unable to hold on to his job at tackle, then Pridgeon could move over there, leaving this position open. Evan Lisle, who was the listed backup during the season, could be a factor. Our best guess is that Pridgeon, who likely would have started in 2016 had he not suffered a season-ending injury, grabs this spot.
Isaiah Prince (Junior)
Josh Myers (Freshman)
Sure, Prince struggled this season, at times badly. But given the comments from the coaching staff, it doesn’t appear that Meyer and company have lost faith in him. Prince has great measurables and a great work ethic, and our guess is that he’s given every opportunity to hang on to this job. There are plenty of possibilities if he can’t though, from Pridgeon, to five-star recruit Myers, to a slew a RS freshmen and sophomores.
There’s a lot of familiar faces on this list, as freshmen and sophomores become sophomores and juniors. But there’s also the possibility for serious reshuffling at wideout and along the offensive line. The good news for Ohio State fans is there’s plenty of talented options to choose from at both positions.