COLUMBUS — Every Ohio State practice opens the same way. Players line up at one side of the field for some jogging and stretching. It gets the bodies loosened up for what’s about to happen over the next two hours. It’s a fairly laid back and rote procedure.
And that’s how Tuesday’s first spring practice started for the Buckeyes. Until not too long after, it was announced that the next set of warmups would be “winner-loser” and players were told they’d be competing against the man next to them in a 5-yard burst from a side-kneeling position.
After a brief explanation of what was needed, the drill got under way. Winners were announced as they were spotted. Some of the winners announced were sophomore safety Sonny Styles, third-year receiver Jayden Ballard, redshirt freshman defensive end Kenyatta Jackson, senior running back Chip Trayanum, sophomore safety Kye Stokes, freshman safety Malik Hartford, and redshirt freshman receiver Caleb Burton — twice.
Burton winning both of his drills may not mean anything. They could have come against somebody he’d beat 100 out of 100 times, after all. But for a guy who never really got close to seeing the field last year, this was a positive 10-yard gain for the former 5-star prospect out of Texas.
The Walking (And Running) Wounded
Back on signing day, Ohio State head coach Ryan Day announced that the Buckeyes would be without eight scholarship players this spring due to injury: running backs TreVeyon Henderson and Evan Pryor, receivers Emeka Egbuka and Julian Fleming, offensive lineman Jakob James, linebacker Tommy Eichenberg, defensive end/linebacker Mitchell Melton, and safety Kourt Williams.
Melton, however, was on the practice field running around and drilling without a knee brace. He tore his ACL in last year’s spring game. His appearance at practice doesn’t mean he is full go, but it does mean that this won’t be a wasted five weeks for him.
Also practicing a bit was fourth-year junior offensive lineman Jakob James. James was working alongside the offensive line in some drills early on Tuesday.
The media was only permitted to watch the first 30 minutes of practice.
Sizing Up The Offensive Line
The Ohio State offensive line is going to be a question mark for as long as it takes to provide an answer.
The Buckeyes are replacing three starters from last year, including both tackles. On Tuesday, in one particular drill, the first-team offensive line looked like this.
Left tackle: Josh Fryar, rJr
Left guard: Donovan Jackson, Jr
Center: Carson Hinzman, rFr
Right guard: Matt Jones, SSr
Right tackle: Zen Michalski, rSoph
Also getting reps at right tackle was redshirt freshman Tegra Tshabola. Redshirt freshman George Fitzpatrick got a couple of reps at left tackle with the twos. Lousiana-Monroe offensive line transfer center Vic Cutler was with the twos at center during this drill. Fifth-year senior Enokk Vimahi was at guard with the twos at this time as well.
Obligatory Quarterback Update
As some may know, Ohio State has a quarterback competition going on this spring. Junior Kyle McCord and redshirt freshman Devin Brown are battling to be the guy who takes over for CJ Stroud. On Tuesday, they took turns repping first from drill to drill. Sometimes it was Brown going first, sometimes it was McCord.
Both looked just fine throwing the ball in the drills open to the media. They were mostly throwing out routes and come backs with no defense to worry about, so they looked as good as they should have.
Emptying The Notebook
- The punt returners on the day repped in this order: Marvin Harrison, Kaleb Brown, Jayden Ballard, Xavier Johnson, Carnell Tate.
- Former head coach John Cooper was on hand, as he usually is.
- The top three cornerbacks — to no surprise — were Denzel Burke, Jordan Hancock, and Jyaire Brown. Ole Miss transfer Davison Igbinosun is one of the new additions and the 6-foot-2 defender certainly stands out as a long, tall cornerback.
- During one of the offensive drills featuring a tandem, offensive line coach Justin Frye had freshmen Luke Montgomery and Austin Siereveld repeat the drill an additional two times as Frye was focused on Montgomery getting the technique just right.
- The running backs repped this way on one particular drill: Miyan Williams, Chip Trayanum, and Dallan Hayden.