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You’re Nuts: What is the most encouraging news out of preseason camp thus far?

Which Buckeyes are impressing a week into preseason practices?

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Everybody knows that one of the best parts of being a sports fan is debating and dissecting the most (and least) important questions in the sporting world with your friends. So, we’re bringing that to the pages of LGHL with our favorite head-to-head column: You’re Nuts.

In You’re Nuts, two LGHL staff members will take differing sides of one question and argue their opinions passionately. Then, in the end, it’s up to you to determine who’s right and who’s nuts.

This week’s topic: Most encouraging news out of preseason camp thus far

Josh’s Take

Ryan Day’s Ohio State football team is just over a week into their fall camp, and vibes are positive, hopes are high, and optimism is in the air... Ok, I guess those are all similar, ya got me. There are also plenty of storylines coming out of these preseason practices, both good and umm, less good. Nothing concerning, nothing to be fearful of as a Buckeye fan. Just a few things to be aware of and/or keep an eye on.

But if you know anything about Gene and myself, you know that we are Team Optimism. No negative vibes over here. So for today’s installment of You’re Nuts, he and I decided to share our most encouraging or most exciting news coming out of The Woody thus far (during fall camp).

Normally – for the past few years at least – I would latch onto anything positive said about Kyle McCord and/or Julian Fleming and absolutely run with that. Same goes for Josh Proctor on the defensive side of the ball, as he completes the holy triumvirate of Ohio State players that I am still holding out hope for.

However, McCord is locked in a position battle with Devin Brown (as of Monday morning), Fleming is like ninth of the ‘WR hype list’ right now, and Proctor, back for his 12th season, appears to be destined for a rotational role at best. But that’s ok, Gene! The fact that these three guys are healthy and contributing is great, and we’re staying positive, baby.

So I guess I will just stick with the overall health situation as my most encouraging news. Right now, OSU has a fairly clean bill of health. Day has said as much, and I believe that Omari Abor and Kourt Williams are the only Buckeye dealing with a long-term injuries. Which is an absolute bummer for both players, but unfortunately, injuries are a part of the game. The fact that not many have occurred recently in Columbus (knock on wood) is a good thing.

(Williams’ injury was announced just before this was published, so excuse the limited mentioned above).

Also good – nay, great – is the seemingly healthy return of players like TreVeyon Henderson, Evan Pryor, and Mitchell Melton. These guys all finished the 2022 season with some sort of serious ailment but are now ready for action. The same could also be said for Tommy Eichenberg, Miyan Williams, and/or Cade Stover, although this trio did participate in the season-ending Peach Bowl. But Eichenberg did so with two broken hands, and the others were unable to finish the game against Georgia due to injury.

This lengthy and important list of players does not even include the likes of Emeka Egbuka, Fleming, and whoever else missed Ohio State’s spring game. I am sure I’m forgetting a name or two.

Look, OSU is never going to make it through a season or potentially even a week or a month unscathed. We saw it last year when the Buckeyes lost arguably their best player in Week freaking 1. It happens. But to enter the season mostly healthy is pretty much all you (the team, the fans, whoever) can ask for. And right now, Day’s squad is on a trajectory to do so.

While it is still early in the process, Buckeye Nation loves to hear that guys were not dinged up coming in. Or worse, dropping like flies on the first or second day or camp. We have seen this in the NFL, as players are suffering soft tissue injuries left and right... Which reminds me, everyone please make sure we’re sending well wishes to Joe Burrow. If you don’t, you’re on my list.

A healthy team is a dangerous team, even more so when it is Ohio State. The fact that most Buckeyes are currently healthy is certainly encouraging, and here’s hoping the Scarlet and Gray maintain those positives vibes in the lead-up to Sept. 2.

Gene’s Take

Like Josh, I am very excited about the current health status of the Buckeyes. Now, even though we are Team Positivity over here, do I trust the ancient strength and conditioning practices of Mick Marrotti to keep guys healthy? No, absolutely not. He will continue to train guys to be body builders rather than football players and Ohio State will likely see another crop of soft tissue injuries pop up this season as a result, but I digress...

On an actual positive note, I am especially excited to see players like Mitchell Melton and the running backs back at full strength.

Melton, a former four-star prospect at linebacker who will likely rotate in at the Jack role this season, has been raved about time and time again in each of the last several offseasons, but has seen both his 2021 and 2022 campaigns wiped out because of injuries. We of course also know how beat up Ohio State’s running backs were last season, especially Pryor who missed the entire year, but having him back in the mix alongside a healthy Henderson will be huge for the Buckeyes.

However, for me, the most encouraging news out of preseason camp thus far has been the play of the transfers Ryan Day and his staff added this offseason. Ohio State officially added nine transfers ahead of the 2023 season, and three of them — Ja’Had Carter, Davison Igbinosun, Josh Simmons — are in competitions for starting jobs, and the trio have reportedly looked pretty good.

Simmons is perhaps in the most important position battle of the three, as the Buckeyes’ offensive line needs to replace both starting tackles. Josh Fryar is expected to step up at one of the spots after gaining some experience last year, but the other starter is fully up for grabs. A four-star transfer prospect, Simmons was brought in with the expectation that he would bookend the O-line as the other starting tackle across from Fryar, and it sounds like things are going according to plan thus far.

“I think he’s had some really good practices and he has shown he can be the starting left tackle. He hasn’t won that job yet but he’s shown us he can do that.” Day said during his press conference on Monday.

Carter and Igbinosun, even if they are not starters — which I expect they will be — will both be supremely important pieces of an Ohio State secondary that needed to bring in some fresh talent. Carter has a very good shot at being one of the Buckeyes’ three starting safeties alongside Sonny Styles and Lathan Ransom, while Igbinosun is battling Jordan Hancock to be the No. 2 guy across from Denzel Burke at corner. Both are portions where Ohio State likes to rotate guys, so both will be on the field a ton this fall either way.

Elsewhere among the incoming transfers, Victor Cutler will provide some depth along the interior of the offensive line, and Nigel Glover will be an interesting piece after coming over late in the wake of Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald issues. Lorenzo Styles will likely need to take this season to complete the transition from wide receiver to defensive back, while Tywone Malone is likely the most interesting name among this group as someone who can make an impact in 2023.

“We’ve seen, so far, flashes that he can do it,” Day said of Malone on Monday. “But at this point of preseason camp, it’s the consistency of doing it all the time.”

It will be great to see the fresh faces meshing with the familiar faces as Ohio State looks to find the best 11 possible on both sides of the ball. Regardless, the news coming out of the Woody at this early juncture seems to be largely positive.