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Ohio State’s projected two-deep following the first day of 2023 fall football camp

Sonny Styles can, should, and will be a starter for the season opener.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: MAR 07 Ohio State Spring Practice Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Every day from now until the start of the season, Land-Grant Holy Land is highlighting Ohio State football players that you should be watching this season. Check out all of our ”Player to Watch” articles to get ready for the season opener against Indiana.

It wasn’t that long ago that the Ohio State football program would actually publish depth charts to make it easier for the media and fans to understand what was happening with the team. Not only that, but the Buckeyes actually did it on a weekly basis, giving interested onlookers an insight into the roster before every game.

Gone are those more carefree days of yore as head coach Ryan Day has closed ranks around his program, instead of open and honest transparency opting for secrecy and surreptitiousness. While wanting to keep proprietary information out of the hands of opponents certainly makes sense, unfortunately, it makes it more difficult for fans to know what’s going on with the team that they love, and it can end up causing headaches for OSU players and coaches as well.

So, short of an actual two-deep release, I am going to read the tea leaves from what we saw in the spring, heard throughout the summer, and witnessed from the first day of fall camp on Thursday to try and predict what will happen at every position by the time the season opener against Indiana rolls around.



2023 Ohio State Backfield Two-Deep

Position 1st String 2nd String
Position 1st String 2nd String
QB Kyle McCord Devin Brown
RB TreVeyon Henderson Miyan Williams

This one seems pretty much set in stone at this point. While the athleticism of Devin Brown is intriguing, I think the writing on the wall is pretty clear at this point that Kyle McCord will be the Buckeyes' Day 1 starter. In the middle of last season, I actually had talked myself into thinking that Brown would be the 2023 starter because Day seemed so hesitant to let McCord do practically anything in games. But, that now appears to have been more about trying to get as much Heisman love for C.J. Stroud as anything else. So, I think the veteran will be the starter for the Buckeyes this fall before probably turning into a first-round NFL Draft pick next spring.

In terms of running back, I don’t think it really matters who starts between these two, because I think they will both have a substantial, and fairly equal, role in the offense this year. However, coming off of a really frustrating sophomore season, it seems like TreVeyon Henderson is healthy and ready to prove that his freshman campaign was no fluke; so I am looking for him to prove that he is once again one of the best backs in the country.

Pass Catchers

2023 Ohio State Pass Catchers Two-Deep

Position 1st String 2nd String
Position 1st String 2nd String
WR X Marvin Harrison Jr. Carnell Tate
WR Slot Emeka Egbuka Xavier Brown
WR Z Julian Fleming Jayden Ballard
TE Cade Stover Joe Royer

Rinse, repeat; Ohio State has the best receiving corps in the country. They will continue to just funnel top-line talent into the pros with no speed bumps for the foreseeable future ad infinitum, in perpetuity, forever and ever, amen.

Offensive Line

Here’s the one area that I am going to venture at least a little bit off of the conventional wisdom and what we saw at Thursday’s first open practice. Apparently, Zen Michalski was getting the first team reps at right tackle, which is all well and good, but I do believe that San Diego State transfer Josh Simmons will eventually be the starter at the open tackle position.

However, since he came over following spring practice, today was his first official practice as a Buckeye. So, once he gets acclimated to the program, I do think that his experience will carry him to a starting spot and will likely push Zen to the left side where he can be the backup to Josh Fryar.

2023 Ohio State Offensive Line Two-Deep

Position 1st String 2nd String
Position 1st String 2nd String
LT Josh Fryar Zen Michalski
LG Donovan Jackson Austin Siereveld
C Carson Hinzman Jakob James
RG Matt Jones Enokk Vimahi
RT Joshua Simmons Tegra Tshabola


Defensive Line

2023 Ohio State Defensive Line Two-Deep

Position 1st String 2nd String
Position 1st String 2nd String
DE Jack Sawyer Caden Curry
DT Ty Hamilton Jaden McKenzie
DT Mike Hall Jr. Tyliek Williams
DE J.T. Tuimoloau Kenyatta Jackson

The one little bit of news that we got about the defensive line coming out of Thursday was that Tyliek Williams went down with a bit of an injury. While he remained on the field for the rest of practice, he did not participate. So, that is likely all precautionary, but I do think it plays into the fact that he will almost certainly be the third man in the d-line rotation this year behind Mike Hall and Ty Hamilton.

Day said on Wednesday that the coaches’ plan is to rotate less up front on defense, so how deep they actually go is yet to be seen, but Williams is a pretty scary presence to have as a backup for that unit.


The two-deep at linebacker seems to be pretty cut and dry, but on Thursday we learned that oft-injured safety Kourt Williams had made the transition to linebacker and will be playing exclusively there this season.

“Kourt is a guy we always felt would be better off closer to the line of scrimmage,” defensive coordinator Jim Knowles said. “We had debated that move for a while and thought it was the right time to move him down fully. He’ll still play sam linebacker in our 4-3 defense, he’s a first-class young man and it’s great to have him at linebacker.”

I have been excited to see what Wiliams could do since he got to campus and he was touted as the perfect fit for the Bullet position that never actually manifested on the field. So, after having three shoulder surgeries late in the 2022 season, let’s hope that he is ready to go as a LB this fall.

2023 Ohio State Linebacker Two-Deep

Position 1st String 2nd String
Position 1st String 2nd String
LB (Will) Steele Chambers C.J. Hicks
LB (Mike) Tommy Eichenberg Cody Simon


2023 Ohio State Secondary Two-Deep

Position 1st String 2nd String
Position 1st String 2nd String
CB Denzel Burke Jyaire Brown
CB Jordan Hancock Davison Igbinosun
Adjuster/Free Ja'Had Carter Josh Proctor
Bandit/Strong Lathan Ransom Kye Stokes
Nickel Sonny Styles Cameron Martinez

Ok, here’s where things get interesting. I think that the corners are more or less set with Denzel Burke and Jordan Hancock locked in as starters with Ole Miss transfer Davison Igbinosun the next man up, but when we move to safety, that’s where things get weird.

All spring, the OSU coaches were talking up how great Josh Proctor had played, making many to assume that he had reclaimed the starting free safety spot that he lost after one half of football last fall. However, when the first practice got underway on Thursday, it was Syracuse transfer Ja’Had Carter at the Adjuster position.

While that was a surprise in itself, perhaps the bigger shock was that 18-year-old sophomore Sonny Styles was running with the 1s at the Nickel position. The accepted wisdom had been that veteran Cam Martinez would occupy that spot, but coaches had been increasingly talking about trying to get the uber-athletic Styles on the field all offseason, and it looks like this is how they do it.

I appreciate that Proctor and Martinez could have theoretically left after disappointing 2022 campaigns — especially Proctor who shocked practically everyone in returning — but Styles needs to be on the field. You win with athletes in this sport, and if the gap between veterans and youngsters is small, I always side with the youngsters because they have more room for growth and improvement.

Similarly, after being a modest three-star recruit coming out of high school, Carter has improved to the point that he was the No. 1 safety in the portal this offseason. If the Buckeyes want a defense that can hang with Michigan, Georgia, Alabama, USC, and the like, you need studs, and while Proctor and Martinez have proven to be solid contributors, they have yet to seize the opportunities that have been given to them, so it’s time to let some other guys have a chance.