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Ohio State Spring Game: Five players who flashed

A handful of players who stood out during Saturday’s spring football finale.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Joseph Scheller/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

As I mentioned last week, I went into the 2023 Ohio State Spring Game with a strategy for what I wanted to look for as the Buckeyes took the field to wrap up spring football. I didn’t learn much from the play calling, and if anything I got annoyed with some of the running plays — especially quarterback runs since those plays ended so quickly due to the two-hand touch rule.

The offensive line play, for me, was a mixed bag and I assume it will get better in preseason camp. What I did notice was some young receivers who stepped up, and it wasn’t a surprise to see that one of those was Carnell Tate.

But here are five guys who left me impressed, even if it was only a glorified practice.

Chip Trayanum

That was some of the hardest running I’ve seen yet from Trayanum, and I hope it isn’t because he was going up against the OSU run defense. Trayanum had the standout offensive play of the game with his 65-yard touchdown run, but it wasn’t his only solid carry.

He toted the rock just eight times for 110 yards and the aforementioned score. He also caught two passes for 15 yards. I’m all for OSU running backs getting more involved in the passing game if they’ve got the hands. Trayanum looked both fast and strong, and the running backs room seems stacked entering the season, especially if everyone stays healthy.

C.J. Hicks

On the defensive side of the ball, Hicks was the subject of a lot of talk throughout the spring, and Saturday was no exception. He only figured in six tackles, but it felt like he made more plays than that. Hicks recorded one tackle for loss and broke up two passes, and always seemed to be on the cusp of a big play.

Jayden Ballard

Four catches for 27 yards doesn’t sound like much, but I liked what I saw from Ballard and I believe he’s ready for more snaps. He was open on other occasions when his quarterbacks simply didn’t get him the ball, either with a poor throw or not pulling the trigger quickly enough to take advantage of the space he created for himself.

Ballard has an intriguing combination of size and speed that offers the OSU passing attack a bit of a different look. I mean, as long as we’re not counting Marvin Harrison Jr., who also has that. Marv is just different.

Denzel Burke

After a poor 2022 season, I was interested in seeing how Burke looked in his first appearance of 2023. It just a scrimmage, but I thought Burke performed well. He didn’t have any tackles and broke up only one pass, but he always seemed stuck to the receiver he was covering. It was reminiscent of his freshman year, when he turned heads and had everyone expecting him to be the next big thing at cornerback for the Buckeyes.

Chase Brecht

I don’t have the best memory at my age, so forgive me if I don’t remember this particular running back even being on the team. The Olentangy Liberty product was a surprise star in the fourth quarter of the Spring Game. Brecht was the second-leading rusher with eight carries for 47 yards and most of that was just a sheer willingness to stay up and move the pile.

He averaged 5.9 yards per carry, which was second only to Trayanum among runners with more than one carry. Brecht also finished with two receptions for 10 more yards. He had a highlight-reel catch on a pass that really should have been picked off, and I love players who don’t give up on plays and keep their concentration level high as Brecht did here:

I talked myself into believing he’d be a 1,000-yard rusher at Purdue or Northwestern based on those eight carries, and I’m pretty comfortable betting my house on that — because I’m terrible at gambling, which is why I don’t do it.

However, after seeing what TC Caffey did in his limited opportunities last year, I’m convinced Ohio State’s walk-on running backs are the real deal and won’t hear a word to the contrary.

Those are the five who flashed for me, although they weren’t the only ones. I mean, you’ve got to respect anyone who averages 25 yards and a touchdown per carry, and Archie Griffin did just that. Ryan Day simply has to find more ways to get Griffin involved.

Whose performance did you enjoy on Saturday?