With Ohio State spring practice now in full swing, things are starting to get clearer on the offensive side of the football. Still, there are a few starting gigs that have yet to be filled, highlighted by the, always-important, quarterback position.
Here’s where things stand after a few weeks of competitive spring practices:
Dwayne Haskins vs Joe Burrow vs Tate Martell
Some may see this as Dwayne Haskins’ job to lose, but offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Ryan Day truly believes it’s a three-man race for Ohio State’s starting quarterback spot.
“Whoever is playing best is going to play,” Day said, according to Land of 10. “So no, no it’s not just a two-person race. Whoever is out there moving the team down the field is going to play, so obviously the guys are out there working and competing. There’s nothing predetermined, there’s nobody who has been the starter like J.T. [Barrett] has been in the past. This is a competition, just like anywhere else who doesn’t have a quarterback coming back. These guys have to earn everything they get.”
The fun thing about these three is that they all bring something different to the table. Haskins showed off his rocket arm during his comeback victory against Michigan last season, and definitely possesses the most NFL upside of the bunch. On the other hand, Joe Burrow is an accurate passer who is poised and has had total control of the offense whenever he’s been given the opportunity. Then there’s Tate Martell, who is one of the most decorated high school prospects ever and brings the most mobility of the three to the position.
That said, Haskins may be in the driver seat due to his immense upside, but it would be silly to count out Burrow at this point. Either way, expect Meyer to find a way to get Martell’s legs on the field in 2018 — either in short yardage or in a goal line package.
However, don’t be surprised if one of Burrow or Haskins transfers immediately if he does not win the job.
Zone 6 returns their entire wide receiving corps from last season (excluding Trevon Grimes) and should benefit from an upgraded passer at the quarterback position. They’ll likely use a similar rotation as last season, with Austin Mack and Binjimen Victor at the X, Parris Campbell and K.J. Hill in the slot, and Terry McLaurin and Johnnie Dixon at the Z; but there are also talented guys such as Jaylen Harris (6’5, 215 lbs) and C.J. Saunders (17 receptions in 2017) who are vying for playing time.
There won’t necessarily be any “winners” here since the rotation will be similar to last season, but whoever is the most consistent will see the field the most.
Rashod Berry vs Luke Farrell vs Jake Hausmann vs Jeremy Ruckert
With Marcus Baugh no longer in the picture, there is a starting spot open at top of the tight end depth chart. One would believe that Rashod Berry will get the nod since he played in every game last season, but there are two former four-star, redshirt sophomores in Luke Farrell and Jake Hausmann behind him, along with incoming freshman stud Jeremy Ruckert.
Meyer is on the record saying Ruckert “might be the best tight end prospect” he’s ever recruited, but he could face an uphill battle since he chose not to enroll early. Overall, Berry will most certainly be in the two-deep and there will be a grueling three-man battle for a spot in the two-deep.
Brady Taylor vs Josh Myers vs Matt Burrell
This is the first season where Meyer has uncertainty at what he calls the ‘apex’ position, and it’s making him lose sleep at night.
“It’s a lot of stress,” Meyer said, according to 247 Sports. “Center is every bit important as quarterback. I don’t know if they’re great players or not.”
Fifth-year senior Brady Taylor was thought to have the upper hand in this key competition, but it looks like the staff hasn’t anointed him with the starting spot yet. Then there’s Josh Myers, the former No. 2 guard recruit in the 2017 class and the No. 1 player from Ohio, who definitely possesses the size (6’5, 308 lbs) and skillset to play this season. Redshirt junior Matthew Burrell is another name that Meyer mentioned, but he may be a depth player at this point in his career.
It’s Taylor’s job to lose, but Meyer injected more competition into the position when he moved Myers over from guard to center.
Branden Bowen vs Demetrius Knox
Most thought the offensive line would have fallen off after Branden Bowen was lost for the season due to a fractured tibia and fibula. However, Demetrius Knox filled in admirably in his absence and may have catapulted himself to the starting right guard spot for the 2018 season. With Bowen still working toward full health, he may be one of the unfortunate ones who lost a job due to injury.
Thayer Munford vs Joshua Alabi vs Bowen/Knox
Isaiah Prince followed up a pretty terrible 2016 season with an excellent 2017 season. Prince was arguably the most improved player on last year’s team and he was rewarded by flipping over to the blind side — replacing Jamarco Jones.
With the right tackle spot open for the first time in over two seasons, it should be one of the fiercest competitions on the offense. Most believe Prince’s backup from last season, Thayer Munford, has the leg up on the competition, yet there are a few other names to keep in mind, such as Joshua Alabi or the loser of the Bowen-Knox battle at right guard. Alabi may backup Prince at left tackle, but he could also bump over to right tackle if his name is called. Meanwhile, the offensive line started to maul once Knox took over for the injured Bowen, meaning they could start Knox at right guard and push the talented Bowen over to right tackle. Even though the starter is not sharped in right now, the right side of the line of the offensive line will not be lacking talent.