August 21, 2017

2017 POSITION-BY-POSITION PEEK

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Aug. 21, 2017

DEFENSIVE LINE
Coach Larry Johnson (4th year at Ohio State)

This Spring … Urban Meyer called the defensive line the strength of the team on defense, noting that the unit is fast and full of really good players. He termed the four defensive ends – Tyquan Lewis, Jalyn Holmes, Sam Hubbard and Nick Bosa – “elite,” experienced and as good as any unit of ends in the country. He also said Dre’mont Jones is turning into a fine tackle and Tracy Sprinkle can be an x-factor once he returns this fall from injury. Robert Landers and Michael Hill had fine springs. Davon Hamilton had surgery on his foot early on in the spring but will return for fall camp. Sprinkle rehabbed but did not compete.

OFFENSIVE LINE
Coach Greg Studrawa (2nd year at Ohio State)

This Spring … The battle for the open right guard position will continue into the fall. Demetrius Knox was running with the first unit this spring, Malcolm Pridgeon was still learning and Matthew Burrell was the most improved offensive lineman on the team. All three have stepped in at the position. Meyer said there is still a lot of work to be done with the second unit and that there needed to be more competition there.

RECEIVERS
Coach Zach Smith (6th year at Ohio State)

This Spring … Parris Campbell had an outstanding spring while filling the fleet feet of Curtis Samuel at H-back. Terry McLaurin also had an excellent spring, as did Binjimen Victor, K.J. Hill, Austin Mack and Johnny Dixon. The deep ball was a major emphasis of this unit with coaches charting all such throws all spring.

LINEBACKERS
Coach Bill Davis (1st year at Ohio State)

This Spring … Chris Worley moved to middle linebacker on Day 1 of spring drills, after playing on the outside last year, and was terrific as the quarterback of the defense. Jerome Baker continued to improve after his outstanding sophomore season and Dante Booker ran with the first team all spring. Sophomore Malik Harrison was having a tremendous spring before he joined talented freshman Barron Browning on the sidelines with shoulder injuries and surgeries. Both are athletic and will play this fall, according to Meyer. Justin Hilliard returned from injury and was noticable. Nick Connor suffered a knee injury early in spring and also had surgery. Tuf Borland is a scholarship linebacker coming off a red-shirt campaign.

CORNERBACKS
Coach Kerry Coombs (6th year at Ohio State)

This Spring … Denzel Ward and Damon Arnette have had fine springs, according to Meyer, in their mission to replace two first-round NFL Draft pick cornerbacks. Three freshmen cornerbacks and a juco transfer enrolled early and competed this spring: Jeffrey Okudah, Shaun Wade, Marcus Williamson, and juco transfer Kendall Sheffield.

SAFETIES
Coach Greg Schiano (2nd year at Ohio State)

This Spring … Damon Webb, the starter last year opposite Malik Hooker, was much improved, according to Meyer. Erick Smith and Jordan Fuller are the veterans competing for the other safety position.

QUARTERBACKS
Coach Ryan Day (1st year at Ohio State)

This Spring … Improving pass protection, completion percentage and finishing blocks were emphasized this spring in the passing game. J.T. Barrett is No. 1 at the position with Joe Burrow ahead of red-shirt freshman Dwayne Haskins for the No. 2 spot coming out of spring.

RUNNING BACKS
Coach Tony Alford (3rd year at Ohio State)

This Spring … One-thousand yard rusher as a freshman Mike Weber separated himself and had an exceptional spring, according to Meyer. He is “where he should be and is doing a very good job.” True freshman and early enrollee J.K. Dobbins raised eyebrows with his play and Demario McCall had a good spring as well. Antonio Williams was bothered at times with a hamstring issue.

TIGHT ENDS
Coach Kevin Wilson (1st year at Ohio State)

This Spring …This was the most improved position on the team, according to Meyer. This even though returning starter Marcus Baugh did not practice while recovering from shoulder surgery. A.J. Alexander played really well, but then injured his knee after spring drills and was lost for the 2017 season. Luke Farrell started to emerge after a red-shirt campaign in 2016 and is just ahead of Jake Hausman, but the two are comparable.

SPECIAL TEAMS
Coach Meyer and Coach Coombs

Lettermen Returning (2): LS Liam McCullough and K Sean Nuernberger

Starter Stats: The important thing here is that McCullough has snapped and Nuernberger has kicked.

Notable Notes: Talented Australian punter Cameron Johnston, who led the Big Ten in punting three times and had the Buckeyes No. 1 in net punting three times, will be missed. McCullough handled all long-snapping duties in 2016 except for the Oklahoma game, when he was ill. Nuernberger set 10 kicking records as a freshman, including three Big Ten, but has been wedged out of playing time each of the past two seasons by a transfer.