“[Winners] Ohio State: Any year where the Buckeyes’ number of draft departures is relatively small puts them in the “winner” category.”
- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN
Urban Meyer and Ohio State fans are no strangers to the Buckeyes losing large amounts of talent each season as players declare early for the NFL draft. But one of the great things about this program is the ability to reload with recruiting classes that are almost always at or near the top of the rankings. This year, however, it seems like the Buckeyes are in good position to not need as many new faces as normal. Ohio State is considered one of the “winners” after the deadline passed on Monday for players to declare for the NFL draft. And after the dust settled, the Buckeyes are primed with a lot of players returning.
The biggest wins were at the skill positions. Mike Weber at running back returns, while Parris Campbell, Johnnie Dixon, and Terry McLaurin made the decision to stay as well. Ohio State will also return defensive lineman Dre’mont Jones. The biggest losses for the Buckeyes to the draft were Denzel Ward and Sam Hubbard, but that’s pretty minimal for what usually happens after bowl games for Meyer’s squad. It looks like whomever wins the quarterback battle between Dwayne Haskins and Tate Martell (and potentially Joe Burrow) will have plenty of weapons to surround him.
“The work the Buckeyes have put in already, and the fact that the remaining schedule is not all that daunting has Ohio State in a good position. It’s basically at a place where if the Buckeyes win the games they’re supposed to win, they’re in.”
- Bill Landis, Cleveland.com
These are exciting times in Columbus. Ohio State basketball has reeled off five straight wins since their loss to a fifth-ranked North Carolina team. In those five wins, the Buckeyes managed to blow out the top-ranked team in the country - Michigan State - and improved to 6-0 in Big Ten play. Now sitting at 15-4 overall on the season, the Buckeyes have made the AP Top 25 for the first time in what feels like forever. And they’ve also given themselves a great shot at making the NCAA tournament in March.
Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology currently has Chris Holtmann’s team as a sixth-seed in the South region, where they are currently slated to play the 11th-seeded Boise State Broncos. Of course, there are still 12 games to be played, including big matchups against a third-ranked Purdue team and 23rd-ranked Michigan. The rest of the schedule is certainly in the Buckeyes’ favor, though, and if they’re able to sustain their success, it’s likely that Ohio State will be dancing in March.
“Just about anywhere else, there would be no question at all about getting [Demario] McCall a heavy workload. At Ohio State, the trick will be all about finding the right spots to unleash him.”
- Austin Ward, Land of 10
With all of the talent returning to Ohio State next season, players like Demario McCall might have a tricky time finding places to be productive or impactful. No one is questioning the ability that McCall has shown in his limited minutes, the athleticism he had before his medical redshirt this past season was obvious. Since Parris Campbell is the team’s H-back (and he looked good last season in that role), and J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber are still both on the team and will be expecting touches, it’s hard to see a place where McCall can truly be involved at a high level. There’s not enough touches to go around.
Of course, that’s the job of the coaching staff. To get the ball in the hands of their playmakers. The question will be can McCall be enough of a difference maker in practices leading up to the season to earn some of those touches? With Haskins, Martell, or Burrow leading the way, whomever is OSU’s QB this fall will need all the help that they can get as a first-time starter. It’s an interesting situation to keep an eye on as the offseason progresses.
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