Spring Practice Insider: Day One For Buckeyes Answers Some Initial Questions

COLUMBUS — Ohio State opened up spring practice Tuesday morning, and also opened up the first 40 minutes or so of that first practice to reporters.

There were several questions looming heading into the morning, and the first major question seems to have been answered with the presence of junior safety Sonny Styles opening up with the linebackers.

Styles checks in at 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds, so the move isn’t a surprise, especially with head coach Ryan Day telling Buckeye Huddle a month ago that a position move was in the works.

Styles started 12 of Ohio State’s 13 games last year, finishing fifth on the team with 53 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss.

The Buckeyes must replace both starting linebackers from last season, but they’ll be doing it with fifth-year Cody Simon — who has double-digit starts to his credit — and some semblance of Styles and junior CJ Hicks, both of whom were five-star prospects in the 2022 recruiting class.

Styles was working with the second unit today. The first-team linebackers were Simon and Hicks.

Terms And Conditions

Before we go any further, please acknowledge that you understand that this practice report is filed after watching just the first 30-40 minutes of the very first spring practice. The media was escorted out right before 7-on-7 began.

Things are still very early, so just because a lineman may be with the ones and not the twos, or a safety is lining up on the wide side of the field and not the boundary side, don’t get too hung up on things that will shift and move throughout camp.

Don’t make too much of day one. It’s a baseline, not a tag line.

The Quarterback Situation

As expected, it was redshirt sophomore Devin Brown leading things through the drills that we saw. He repped first, followed by Kansas State transfer Will Howard, and then redshirt freshman Lincoln Kienholz. They were then followed by true freshmen Julian Sayin and Air Noland.

In the first couple of drills, the reps were split pretty evenly. Then towards the end of our viewing window, a “veteran” would get to go through a drill a second time before a freshman went a first time.

Brown had a good start with his accuracy. Noland, however, may have been the most accurate of the quarterbacks when it came to some shorter-yardage drills. Before this video, he went 3-for-3 on his throws.

If you would like to possibly read too much into things, there came a point when four quarterbacks stayed and threw to receivers while Noland went and threw wheel routes to the running backs. Which you can see here.

Line Changes

One of the other major questions about this team is who would be stepping in at right guard in place of departed sixth-year senior Matt Jones. On Tuesday, it was sophomore Luke Montgomery.

Montgomery played in most of Ohio State’s games last year and has the ability to play guard or tackle. Ryan Day mentioned last month about possibly giving right tackle Josh Fryar a look at right guard as well. In that scenario, the right tackle would likely either be Montgomery, or redshirt sophomore Tegra Tshabola, who was with the twos.

Alabama transfer center Seth McLaughlin was with the twos today as last year’s starter Carson Hinzman was with the ones. That wasn’t a surprise given Hinzman’s experience and the fact that transfers are rarely with the ones right out of the gate.

The first two lines looked like this:

LT – Josh Simmons/Zen Michalski
LG – Donovan Jackson/Austin Siereveld
C – Carson Hinzman/Seth McLaughlin
RG – Luke Montgomery/Enokk Vimahi
RT – Josh Fryar/Tegra Tshabola

Transfer Talk

While it is rare for transfers to step in immediately as first-teamers, that didn’t stop sophomore safety Caleb Downs from doing just that. The former Alabama Freshman All-American was at free safety today, as expected.

Former Ole Miss Freshman All-American running back Quinshon Judkin was repping behind senior TreVeyon Henderson.

Unsurprisingly, new offensive coordinator Chip Kelly was happy with what he was seeing from Judkins.

Emptying The Notebook

  • The running backs repped in this order: TreVeyon Henderson, Quinshon Judkins, Dallan Hayden, James Peoples, and Sam Williams-Dixon.
  • Freshman receiver Jeremiah Smith is listed at 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds. He looks it but doesn’t move like it.
  • Arvell Reese and Sonny Styles were the second-team linebackers initially.
  • The punt returners were Emeka Egbuka, Jeremiah Smith, Jayden Ballard, Brandon Inniss, Jermaine Mathews, and Bryson Rodgers.
  • The quarterbacks were doing early work taking snaps from under center.
  • Several of the coaches were spending time with Caleb Downs in warmups, including Chip Kelly, Tim Walton, and Mickey Marotti.
  • Chip Kelly sure seemed like he was having a good time.
  • Before practice started, Kelly saw former Ohio State coach John Cooper on the field and he went running over to the former head coach and spent a few minutes chatting.

Sights And Sounds

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