It’s not the most exhilarating game to watch, and it may not tell the average viewer much about the potential of this season’s football team, but the Ohio State spring game has been a coming out party for certain players. Some “spring game most valuable players” did not produce during the season, like Taurian Washington and last year’s MVP, Torrance Gibson, but some have been able to parlay their stand-out spring game performance into on-field success, such as Michael Thomas and Malik Hooker — who recorded a one-handed pick-six and gave us all a preview of his ball-hawking skills before his first career start.
With new offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson looking to fix the disastrous passing game, look for a few wide receivers and the star-studded quarterbacks to make plays throughout the 2017 spring game. But with multiple budding stars looking to fill the three starting secondary spots, expect various members of the secondary to make plays.
Let’s see who Buckeye fans should keep an eye on during the spring game:
When Michael Thomas declared for the NFL draft at the end of the 2015 season, the offensive staff chose to replace their most talented wideout with a committee of athletes, rather than a pure wide receiver. Although this decision was made due to a lack of veteran talent at the position, they recruited very well at the position in 2016, with Austin Mack and Binjimen Victor. Mack and Victor are both pure outside receivers who possess legitimate route running techniques and wide receiver intangibles.
While most believed that Mack would make an impact before the lanky 6’4, 180 lb wideout from Florida, it was actually Victor who saw late-season action and was on field during Ohio State’s playoff game against Clemson. Now weighing in at 195 lbs, Victor has the body type to win jump balls and win one-on-one battles against corners.
During the spring game, look for J.T. Barrett (or whichever quarterback is paired up with Victor) to target Victor in the end zone on a fade route. Victor is the first receiver since Thomas who has the ability to win a contested jump ball and it’s almost a lock that it will happen next weekend.
When we broke down the spring practice positional battles, we mentioned J.K. Dobbins versus Antonio Williams for the RB2 spot behind Mike Weber. Dobbins and Williams possess two different skill-sets with Dobbins being a shifty, elusive back, while Williams is your prototypical bruising back. We mentioned that based off of his high school tape Dobbins should get the nod and thus far, it looks like we were correct.
"Dobbins has passed Antonio (Williams)," Meyer said on March 28th. "Him and Demario (McCall) are battling for that backup spot right now. The best thing that can happen is competition, and we didn’t have much at that position."
With Weber set as the clear starter at tailback, expect Dobbins to get the start on the opposite team and get a good amount of touches. Seeing Dobbins live for the first time against the talented Ohio State front-seven will be something to keep an eye on.
Tate Martell came to Ohio State as one of the most decorated high school quarterbacks of all-time, and so far throughout the spring, he has made his presence felt as a true freshman.
Martell will show off his lethal dual-threat combo on Saturday, by running the read option and showing off his arm strength. Martell brings a sense of confidence and swagger to the quarterback position — which has lacked recently — and he will definitely be looking to put on a show. With Barrett most likely taking limited snaps, the quarterback competition during the spring game will be fierce.
Eric Glover-Williams may not see a ton of playing time during the season at H-back over Parris Campbell (and possibly Demario McCall), but EGW has the skill-set to take home spring game MVP honors on Saturday. He’s made a smooth transition to the offensive side of the ball during spring ball and he is a natural with the football in his hands.
If Glover-Williams gets a good amount of touches (which he should), he definitely has the potential to make a few dazzling plays and take one to the house.
Johnnie Dixon looked like a promising receiver prospect coming out of high school, but an array of injuries have limited the Florida native to only 7 career receptions during his three year career. Although his speed and quickness may not be where it used to be, it doesn’t mean that Dixon can’t be a contributor during his final year at Ohio State.
Source told me that Johnnie Dixon is feeling "the best he's felt in a long time." The guy spent a lot of time with the ones on Saturday.— Ari Wasserman (@AriWasserman) April 8, 2017
Through spring practice, it looks like Dixon is as healthy as he’s ever been as a Buckeye — which would be huge for a position with so many question marks. Sure, Victor and K.J. Hill look to be fixtures on the perimeter, but there are rotational spots to be had, and Dixon may be able to make an impact.
As for Saturday, it will be interesting to see if Dixon can gain separation on the perimeter and see how he looks coming in-and-out of breaks. To be honest, getting any sort of consistency out of Dixon at this point in his career would be a plus for this offense and for this positional group. Keep an eye on him against the talented Buckeye secondary.
Others to watch: Kendall Sheffield, K.J. Hill, Demario McCall, Demetrius Knox, Jordan Fuller, Parris Campbell, Dwayne Haskins