CJ Hicks Ohio State Linebacker Buckeyes

Ohio State Spring Practice Insider: Defense Continues To Step Up

COLUMBUS — The Ohio State football team was on the field for practice No. 11 on Friday. They will cap spring camp with practices next Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, followed by the OSU spring game on Saturday, April 15.

Credentialed media members were invited to attend that second hour of practice, which involved 11-on-11, 7-on-7, some red zone drills, and some third-down situations.

Quarterbacks Kyle McCord and Devin Brown continued to rotate in with the ones and twos. McCord would run with the first team for his allotted number of snaps, then the twos would come in. Brown would then run drills with the twos, and then stay in when the ones returned, and so on.

Overall, the day was won by the pass defense. There were no big plays given up. In fact, the biggest gain of the day was probably about 20 yards on a pass from McCord to receiver Marvin Harrison, Jr.

The bulk of the pass plays on the day seemed to be check-downs because the first and second reads were often covered by the Ohio State defensive backs.

Fourth-year junior nickel back Cameron Martinez continued his stellar spring when he stepped in front of a short McCord pass and intercepted the back half of the ball. He then returned the interception 25 yards or so for a touchdown.

Injury Updates

You can add fifth-year senior linebacker Steele Chambers and sixth-year receiver Xavier Johnson to the group of walking wounded at Ohio State. Both players are done for the spring with leg injuries, though both will be back in time for summer workouts. Neither injury is expected to impede the players this season.

Syracuse transfer safety Ja’Had Carter remains out of contact drills for the Buckeyes after suffering an injury in last Saturday’s practice. In his place, sophomore cornerback Jyaire Brown was working with the second-team at nickel behind Cameron Martinez.

New Role For Kaleb Brown

Friday’s practice gave us our first look at Ohio State’s kickoff return unit. Xavier Johnson led the team with 12 return attempts last year, but with him out, it was redshirt freshman receiver Kaleb Brown running with the ones. And to be honest, he may be there regardless of Johnson’s injury status.

Brown is an explosive and dynamic receiver who may have trouble cutting his way through the OSU depth chart this season. Returning kicks could be a way to allow him to impact games for the Buckeyes this year. The second-team returns were handled by sophomore running back Dallan Hayden and true freshman receiver Carnell Tate.

Ryan Day’s Thoughts

Ohio State head coach Ryan Day was asked about the best thing they got out of Friday’s practice.

“The competition,” he said. “Seeing the guys compete out here, I think you saw the energy level. A bunch of guys getting after it on a Friday. If we can keep building on that, we’re gonna have a good team.”

Day was also asked if redshirt freshman center Carson Hinzman has won the job from Louisana-Monroe transfer Victor Cutler.

“I’d like to tell you, yes. I don’t think we’re there yet,” Day said. “I think he’s done some good things. But to say that he’s earned the starting spot. I don’t think we’re there yet.”

Cutler was getting some reps with the first team at times on Friday as well.

Black Stripe Alert

Following practice, freshman tight end Jelani Thurman, freshman safety Malik Hartford, and redshirt freshman walk-on running back Chase Brecht all had their black stripes removed.

Black Stripes Removed
OT Tegra Tshabola (redshirt freshman) – March 23
OT George Fitzpatrick (redshirt freshman) – March 23
CB Davison Igbinosun (sophomore transfer) – March 25
WR Carnell Tate – March 25
QB Tristan Gebbia (seventh-year senior transfer) – April 1
OL Quinton Burke (senior walk-on) – April 1
TE Jelani Thurman – April 7
SAF Malik Hartford – April 7
RB Chase Brecht (redshirt freshman walk-on) – April 7

Emptying the Notebook

  • Running back Miyan Williams got the day off, which left the bulk of the touches to Chip Trayanum, Dallan Hayden, and Chase Brecht. Trayanum continues to look fast, powerful, and decisive.
  • Sophomore linebacker CJ Hicks was with the ones on the day, and likely will be for the rest of camp, as starting Will linebacker Steele Chambers is out for the rest of spring. Hicks has made some plays in practice so far, but did get beat down the seam in red zone drills for a touchdown by senior tight end Cade Stover. Defensive coordinator Jim Knowles said last week that he wants to see Hicks at the Jack position in fall camp as well. The experience he gains over the rest of spring should be put to good use in the fall.
  • Sophomore safety Sonny Styles continues to line up all over the place. From play to play, you can find him on the line of scrimmage setting the edge, or back as a deep safety to the boundary, or anywhere in between.
  • Redshirt freshman receiver Kojo Antwi had a nice touchdown grab on a fade route over sophomore cornerback Davison Igbinosun. Antwi got at least one foot in bounds as he fell to the turf. Antwi showed strong hands on the play as Igbinosun was doing everything he could to knock the ball away.
  • Kyle McCord and Devin Brown both had success on the ground. Given the nature of the black jerseys that both were sporting, however, “success” is a relative term. There were no big plays, but there were some first downs picked up via third-down scrambles for both players.
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Podcast Convos

Following practice, Tom Orr, Kevin Noon, and myself got together for a live stream discussing what we saw at practice and also answering questions from the viewers.

You can watch or listen below. Below that show is tomorrow’s edition of Buckeyes TomOrrow Morning as Tom Orr and myself discuss a handful of topics from practice.

Go to discussion...