COLUMBUS — The Buckeyes opened up fall camp on Thursday with a morning practice that featured two offenses and two defenses going at the same time. Head coach Ryan Day said on Wednesday that with so much depth this year, they would be able to get more reps in this camp by practicing on two fields at the same time, which they did almost immediately on Thursday.
While it’s too early to solidify depth charts, there was a semblance of the No. 1 and No. 3 offenses and defenses on one field, and the No. 2 and No. 4 offenses and defenses on the other. Redshirt freshman quarterback Devin Brown was with the first-team offensive line and running backs. He also had receiver Marvin Harrison, Jr.. Junior quarterback Kyle McCord was with the second-team offensive line, but also had starting receivers Julian Fleming and Emeka Egbuka.
There was plenty of mixing and matching on the day. McCord took the first-team reps in the first portion of individual drills. Day said on Wednesday that McCord and Brown would get equal time with the first-team until somebody separates.
Neither quarterback stood out over the other today. Today was a fairly basic practice that featured more of a short passing game while the squads went 7-on-7 or 11-on-11. It is also important to note that there are no pads and no tackling yet at this point.
Line ‘Em Up
The first-team offensive line looked exactly like it did when last we saw it in the spring.
LT – Josh Fryar
LG – Donovan Jackson
C – Carson Hinzman
RG – Matt Jones
RT – Zen Michalski
The twos were a little different, however, as freshman Luke Montgomery moved up from the third-team left tackle to second-team. There was some rotation with redshirt freshman George Fitzpatrick, who was the second-team left tackle in the spring. Fourth-year junior Jakob James is also back after missing the spring. He and Louisiana-Monroe transfer Victor Cutler split reps with the twos and threes. Freshman Joshua Padilla was the fourth-team center, in case you were wondering.
The full second-team offensive line looked like this.
LT – Luke Montgomery/George Fitzpatrick
LG – Austin Siereveld
C – Jakob James/Victor Cutler
RG – Enokk Vimahi
RT – Tegra Tshabola
San Diego State right tackle transfer Jimmy Simmons began his camp as the third-team right tackle. He is going to have to earn his way higher up the depth chart.
The third-team offensive line looked like this.
LT – George Fitzpatrick/Luke Montgomery
LG – Quinton Burke
C – Victor Cutler
RG – Trey Leroux
RT – Jimmy Simmons
Freshman Miles Walker was behind Simmons at right tackle.
Sonny Side Up
Much of the anticipation for the 2023 Ohio State defense centers around sophomore safety Sonny Styles, who is now measuring in at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds. He also has a 40″ vertical according to linebacker Steele Chambers, but who’s counting? Anyway, the first group of safeties today featured Syracuse transfer Ja’Had Carter at Free Safety/Field Safety/Adjuster, Lathan Ransom at Strong Safety/Boundary Safety/Bandit, and Sonny Styles at Nickel, which can also be a Sam.
The second group of safeties was sophomore Kye Stokes, sixth-year senior Josh Proctor, and redshirt freshman Ryan Turner at nickel. Fourth-year junior Cameron Martinez participated some but did not appear to be full go.
After practice, I asked defensive coordinator Jim Knowles if Styles was on the field so much at nickel because Martinez didn’t appear to be full go. He responded with a no, saying Styles was on the field because that’s who they wanted on the field.
From play to play, Styles would line up over the slot or as a Sam linebacker off the line of scrimmage, or as an edge defender on the line of scrimmage. He played all three levels of defense. Styles is certainly a different kind of nickel defender. It will be interesting to see what they do when they start installing their third-and-long defense to see where he lines up then.
Knowles also said that Ja’Had Carter was going to be a deep safety for them. They looked at him at nickel in the spring, but they like him at Adjuster because he’s smart, he can see the field, and he takes coaching and applies it quickly.
Emptying The Notebook
+ Right guard Matt Jones was getting some snaps in at center during a quarterback drill. All four of the Buckeye quarterbacks were just working on taking snaps, so they obviously needed four centers. The cross-training simply keeps the muscle memory there for Jones should he ever need to move over to center.
+ There is nothing new to report regarding the quarterback competition. Nothing has been settled.
+ Junior defensive tackle Tyleik Williams tweaked his knee early in practice. A trainer came over and worked with him. They eventually put a sleeve over his knee and he walked — and then jogged — it off. He didn’t take part in any of the 11-on-11 stuff after that, but it didn’t seem too serious.
+ Ole Miss transfer Tywone Malone got quite a bit of time with the ones later on in practice without Tyleik Williams available.
+ Northwestern transfer Nigel Glover was dressed and at practice today. (No. 37 in your programs.)
+ Fourth-year junior Mitchell Melton is being brought back a bit slowly. He missed last season and was held out of spring. He has started out as a rush end, and will eventually get into the Jack role once they start installing that down the road.
+ Freshman defensive tackle Jason Moore is listed at 6-foot-6 and 295 pounds, and he looks every bit of it.
+ Oregon State transfer quarterback Tristan Gebbia dropped in a nice 30-yard gain to freshman receiver Bryson Rodgers with freshman Jermaine Mathews, Jr. in coverage. All four of the true freshman receivers made plays today. This was our first look at Brandon Inniss, who showed a kind of quickness normally reserved for a guy like Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Fittingly, Inniss is wearning JSN’s old No. 11.
+ Freshman receiver Noah Rogers had a fantastic catch that may have only gained 5-10 yards, but it was still impressive. Rogers was thrown a short out that both Sonny Styles and Jordan Hancock jumped, but the ball got to Rogers just as the defenders did. He stretched high and caught the ball in his hands and held on while they were trying to knock it to the ground.
+ The first pair of corners were juniors Denzel Burke and Jordan Hancock. The second pair were Ole Miss sophomore transfer Davison Igbinosun and sophomore Jyaire Brown.
+ While working with the twos in 7-on-7, freshman safety Malik Hartford intercepted Devin Brown, forcing Brown to take a lap around the field while practice continued.
+ The defense actually did pretty well on the day. Only one or two plays allowed of any significant distance, and nothing huge. Of course, they were blowing the whistles pretty quickly, so there weren’t many opportunities for yards after the catch.
+ One of the better catch-and-runs, however, came from redshirt sophomore Evan Pryor. He caught a pass in the right flats and turned it back into the middle of the field. He looked like the explosive player he was before his ACL tear. It was great to see him running hard and running with confidence.
+ JT Tuimoloau was ruining practice for the offense at times. He was giving every right tackle fits.
+ Fourth-year junior safety Kourt Williams has now moved to linebacker. He sees himself fitting in at Will but is also learning Sam.
+ Asked about Sonny Styles after practice and where we may assume he’ll be from snap to snap, Knowles said, “Don’t assume anything with Sonny.”