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Urban Meyer may be on paid leave, but expectations are still high for Ohio State football

No matter who is the head coach when the season kicks off against Oregon State, the Buckeyes are still loaded with talent.

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NCAA Football: Cotton Bowl-Ohio State vs Southern California Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

“Coach Urban Meyer’s future at Ohio State might be in doubt, but the talent level on the field for the Buckeyes certainly isn’t a question.”

Mitch Stacy, Associated Press

With Ohio State still in the midst of the investigation of how Urban Meyer handled domestic abuse allegations against former wide receivers coach Zach Smith, it is easy to forget just how good of a football team Ohio State will field this season. The Buckeyes are loaded with talent on both sides of the football, and again should be a contender to make the College Football Playoff.

The biggest area in which fans are ready to get some answers to is how effective redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins will be in replacing J.T. Barrett. While Haskins won’t have quite the leadership impact that Barrett had, but there is no question that Haskins has the talent to find immediate success for Ohio State.

Haskins gave fans a glimpse to what could be in store in the future when he stepped in for an injured Barrett last year against Michigan and led the Buckeyes to victory. With a full offseason to get comfortable in the offense, as well as having a talented group of receivers at his disposal, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Haskins coming out of the gates hot with the Buckeyes putting more of an emphasis on the passing game.

The new starting quarterback will also have the luxury of running backs J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber lining up with him in the backfield. Despite J.T. Barrett carrying the football 165 times in 2017, Dobbins and Weber still were able to combine for over 2,000 yards on the ground. With Barrett having moved on to the NFL, the workload for the running backs will increase even more. If the duo can run the football like they were able to over the last month of the 2017 season, defenses around the Big Ten will have their work cut out for them.

Despite seeing a number of starters move on to the NFL, Ohio State’s defense still has plenty of talent to work with. The biggest of those stars is Nick Bosa, who is likely suiting up for his final season with the Buckeyes. The junior defensive end is already predicted as one of the top picks in the 2019 NFL Draft, as he looks to follow in the footsteps of older brother Joey, who also left Columbus after his junior season. Expect even bigger numbers from Bosa this year as he’ll be on the field more this year.

“It’s arguable, though, that Ohio State’s current roster of tight ends is its most talented roster of tight ends in several years. And despite their inexperience, Ohio State’s coaches have expressed confidence that they could have as many as four tight ends who are capable of making a significant impact on the team this season.”

Dan Hope, Eleven Warriors

Ohio State has plenty of talented wide receivers on their roster heading into the 2018 season, but that doesn’t mean people should be sleeping on the tight ends. There are as many four tight ends who could make an impact this season, as the Buckeyes look to replace the production of Marcus Baugh, who caught 28 passes and five touchdowns last season.

The starter at tight end to open up the season for Ohio State will be Luke Farrell. The redshirt sophomore’s biggest asset is with his blocking, but he also has the ability to be a threat in the intermediate passing game. Farrell is going to wow people with his athletic ability like a couple of the other tight ends on the roster, but he’ll give the Buckeyes solid production at the position.

The tight end that many are most looking forward to seeing on the field is Jeremy Ruckert. The freshman comes to Columbus as the second-best tight end in the 2018 recruiting class, and has the looks of being Ohio State’s most dynamic tight end in years. Despite being just a freshman, many have Ruckert pegged to make an immediate impact.

The wildcard of the group is Rashod Berry, who came to Ohio State as a defensive end. Berry moved to tight end after the logjam of talent at defensive end, and has tremendous athletic ability. Last year Berry was on the field for 215 snaps, catching six passes, two of which were touchdowns. Berry is still raw and learning the position, which might see Farrell and Ruckert get some more playing time.

The inexperience at the position could see the trio of tight ends, along with Jake Hausmann all seeing playing time early in the year to try and figure out who is suited best to get the majority of the snaps. With the increased emphasis on the passing game this year, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine some higher catch totals for the tight ends this year than in recent years.

“This staff’s ability to build relationships is second to none. Those bonds the prospects have with the staff aren’t easy to break.”

Steve Wiltfong, Director of recruiting for 247Sports via Tim May, The Columbus Dispatch

Despite head coach Urban Meyer being placed on paid administrative level at the beginning of the month, Ohio State recruiting is still going strong. All 15 of the recruits from the 2019 class are still committed to Ohio State, as well as the six recruits from the 2020 class that have recruited.

2019 wide receiver commit Garrett Wilson is confident that Urban Meyer will be the coach at Ohio State, and until he hears otherwise he is a solid commit to the school. Even if Ohio State decides to move on from Meyer, Wilson had high praise for interim head coach Ryan Day, and would feel confident in playing for Day if he ended up as the permanent head coach.

Of course there could be a change in the feelings of many recruits if Meyer doesn’t return to the team, but Ohio State’s recruiting staff, led by Mark Pantoni, has built so many strong relationships with commits that there might not be the mass exodus of recruits that often comes when a high-profile coach is let go.

Ohio State is still Ohio State, and whether the head coach of the football team is Urban Meyer or someone else might sway some recruits to look elsewhere, but there is still plenty of talented recruits who would have Ohio State at the top of their list.