It’s a tradition unlike any other — the first Ohio State roster of the year. With spring camp opening on Tuesday, the Buckeyes have also released their spring roster, listing new numbers, heights, weights, and the like.
It’s an opportunity to see who has made gains, who has decided to take on a jersey number with more weight than just the material it’s made of, and any other kind of minutiae that people like us look forward to digging through.
And there was plenty to dig through.
So with all of that in mind, here are some notable numbers from the first roster for the 2023 Buckeyes.
- The early enrollee freshmen now have their jersey numbers. TE Jelani Thurman (15), WR Carnell Tate (17), CB Jermaine Mathews, Jr. (24), SAF Malik Hartford (25), RB Will Hartson (30), OL Luke Montgomery (51), DT Will Smith, Jr. (53), OL Josh Padilla (62), OL Austin Siereveld (67), OL Miles Walker (76), WR Noah Rogers (80), WR Bryson Rodgers (86).
- Carnell Tate is the latest in a long line of Ohio State receivers to wear No. 17. Few, however, stick with the number for long. Kyion Grayes wore it last year as a freshman, but has now moved to No. 7 (which is a whole other conversation). Chris Olave wore it for a couple of years before moving to No. 2. Jalin Marshall wore it before moving to No. 7. Santonio Holmes wore it before moving to No. 4. Chris “Tippy Toes” Sanders wore it in the 90s and actually kept it.
- Kyion Grayes moving to No. 7 is the kind of confidence you want to see in a playmaker. Past receivers who wore the No. 7 include Ted Ginn, Chris Gamble, Joey Galloway, and Jalin Marshall. The number is still waiting for its first 1,000-yard season, however.
- The transfers also have their new numbers. SAF Ja’Had Carter (14), QB Tristan Gebbia (15), CB Davison Igbinosun (20), LS John Ferlmann (43), OL Victor Cutler, Jr. (59), K Casey Magyar (95).
- With Davison Igbinosun wearing No. 20, that means sophomore safety Sonny Styles has apparently moved from No. 20 to No. 6. At least, that’s what Styles was sporting on Tuesday. The truly notable part here, however, is that at 6-foot-2, Igbinosun didn’t look all that unlike the 6-foot-4 Styles while running drills with the Buckeye cornerbacks on Tuesday. His size stands out. And as defensive coordinator Jim Knowles said after practice, Igbinosun was using his size and length to get his hands on passes throughout the morning session.
- The most talked about number change, however, belongs to redshirt freshman quarterback Devin Brown, who has moved from No. 15 to No. 33. That number, of course, is not your typical quarterback number. Brown cited his father’s love (and his own) of Sammy Baugh, who was the first quarterback ever enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “He’s a legend. That’s the original quarterback number in my opinion,” Brown said on Tuesday.
- Other notable Buckeyes to wear the No. 33: All-time OSU touchdown leader Pete Johnson, three-time All-American linebacker James Laurinaitis, and former Silver Football Trophy winner Ollie Cline.
- Some wondered if Will Smith, Jr. would end up wearing the same number as his father — 93, but he will begin with No. 53 and perhaps make it his own. (The No. 93 is currently being worn by redshirt freshman defensive tackle Hero Kanu.)
- Comparing the final roster from last year to the spring roster now, the returning scholarship Buckeyes have added a total of 159 combined pounds. They have, however, lost an inch of height thanks to junior cornerback Jordan Hancock coming in at 6-foot-even, instead of last year’s 6-foot-1.
- The biggest gainers of the offseason are junior offensive guard Donovan Jackson and redshirt freshman offensive tackle George Fitzpatrick. Both have added 20 pounds. Jackson is now up to 320 pounds. Fitzpatrick is now at 305. The added weight should help Jackson in the trenches, and Fitzpatrick needed to get stronger in order to find a spot in the two-deep.
- Redshirt freshman defensive end Omari Abor went from 249 last year to 268 this spring. The Buckeyes need more help up front, and with the added strength, Abor should now better-suited to help against the run.
- The Buckeyes’ other redshirt freshman defensive end — Kenyatta Jackson — has added 13 pounds and is now up to 252 pounds. Defensive line coach Larry Johnson loved Jackson’s pass-rush potential last year, but it was clear he still needed to get stronger. He has done that, and will continue doing so.
- Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Carson Hinzman is up 10 pounds, from 290 to 300 now. That will help him contend for the starting center job this spring with transfer Victor Cutler.
- Rush end Mitchell Melton has continued to put linebacker behind him, adding eight pounds in the offseason and now checking in at 253 pounds. He has been cleared for individual drills this spring, but will be held out of the more physical portions of practice as they stay cautious following his ACL tear in the spring game last year. One of the reasons they are staying careful with him is that right now, he projects as the team’s top option at the linebacker/defensive end Jack position.
- It may just be a product of being injured, but Kourt Williams is up eight pounds to 228. Or maybe it portends a move to linebacker?
- Sophomore Caden Curry is up nine pounds, checking in now at 259. Curry wore down as the season went on last year, and he has worked hard in the offseason to make sure that doesn’t happen this year. Right now he projects as the Buckeyes’ No. 3 defensive end, so he’s going to need consistency. He could also get a look at the Jack position in the fall.
- Sophomore running back Dallan Hayden is up eight pounds to 203 right now. He never ran like he was too small last year, but he also never had to carry a team week after week.
- It wasn’t just about gains, however. There were also some players who shed a few pounds.
- Quarterback Kyle McCord, perhaps hearing all of the Buckeye fans out there clamoring for a runner at the position, is down seven pounds to 215.
- Punter Jesse Mirco, owner of a 22-yard-per-carry average at Ohio State, is down five pounds. This is a clear signal that the Buckeyes are intent on using his speed and elusiveness even more in 2023.
- Redshirt sophomore nose tackle Mike Hall is down five pounds to 285, which may mean that we should start calling him “redshirt sophomore three-technique Mike Hall.”
- Freshman offensive lineman Luke Montgomery comes in at 6-foot-4, which puts him on the short side for tackle. But it will be up to his feet and arms as to whether or not he can handle the position.
- Freshman tight end Jelani Thurman coming in at 6-foot-6 and 253 pounds garnered a lot of attention from onlookers. As a recruit, he was listed at 225 pounds, so he’s obviously been getting ready for big-time college football.
- Will Smith, Jr. already coming in at 290 pounds puts him ahead of the game. He may have been one of the lower-rated members of OSU’s 2023 recruiting class, but he continues to do things that will get him on the field sooner rather than later, including enrolling early.
- Freshman receivers Noah Rogers (No. 80) and Bryson Rodgers (No. 86) sporting old-school receiver numbers is nice to see. It probably won’t last long, however, as the move to single digits will likely take hold at some point. Also of note, both players being listed at 6-foot-2 will give the Buckeyes some needed size down the road.
You can check out the Ohio State spring roster for yourself, right here, and find your own minutiae if you like.