March 6, 2019

2019 Spring Football Preview

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An Experienced Group On Defense

 

With nine starters returning, the defense will be among the most experienced in the Big Ten and nationally. Up front, junior Chase Young and senior Jonathon Cooper form a formidable combination at defensive end, joined in the middle by defensive tackles Robert “BB” Landers and Davon Hamilton. While Hamilton started just one game last year, he played heavily in coach Larry Johnson’s rotation. Young was an all-Big Ten player who led the team in tackles for loss and sacks (15.5 and 10.5, respectively) and figures to be primed for even bigger things in 2019. Cooper started all 12 games that he played in and had 6.5 tackles-for-loss. Landers has 17.5 career TFLs.

All three starters return at linebacker: Malik Harrison, Tuf Borland and Pete Werner. The trio combined to make 206 tackles last year and had 25 tackles for loss. Additionally, Justin Hilliard, Baron Browning, Teradja Mitchell and K’Vaughan Pope return and with considerable talent.

The back end of Ohio State’s defense features returning captain Jordan Fuller, a first-team CoSIDA Academic All-American who is on his way to earning his degree in business. He tied with Harrison for the team lead with 81 tackles last season. Other returning starters are SAF Brendon White, the Rose Bowl Game Defensive MVP, and CB Damon Arnette.

 

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Talent Abounds On Offense

 

Quarterback promises to be a position of great attention and intrigue, as the competition to start will be center stage between Justin Fields, a highly-touted transfer from the University of Georgia, and redshirt freshman Matthew Baldwin, who spent most of last season recovering from a knee injury suffered in high school.

Whomever wins the battle to start at quarterback will be throwing to a talented group of skill position players. Despite the losses of fifth-year seniors Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin and Johnnie Dixon, wide receiver still promises to be a position of strength.

The list of returnees starts with senior K.J. Hill, who could become Ohio State’s career leader in receptions this year. Joining Hill are seniors Austin Mack and Binjimen Victor. Mack was having a fi ne junior season (26 rec. for 331 yards) before a foot injury cut his year short in the eighth game of the season, and Victor has 12 touchdowns among his 48 career catches. Sophomore Chris Olave (12 receptions, 197 yards, three TD) emerged late in the season and senior Binjimen Victor (21 receptions 354 yards, four TD) has 33 games of experience to his credit.

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J.K. Dobbins is coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons and is one of the most highly-regard running backs in the Big Ten and nationally. Redshirt freshman Master Teague enters 2019 having gained experience in early-season games against Oregon State, Rutgers and Tulane while H-back Demario McCall has career averages of 6.1 yards per rush and 12.9 yards per reception. Marcus Crowley, a true freshman from Jacksonville, Florida, enrolled early after earning Florida’s Mr. Football award last fall.

Tight end is both deep and talented. Luke Farrell started 10 of 14 games last year and caught 20 passes for 205 yards. Senior Rashod Berry also played a significant role, starting four games while catching two touchdown passes. Sophomore Jeremy Ruckert and junior Jake Hausmann also return with considerable experience and promise.

The offensive line will be tasked with replacing four starters. Left tackle Thayer Munford is the lone holdover, but left guard Wyatt Davis started the final two games of the season and Josh Myers appears primed to take over at center. Branden Bowen, a six-game starter at guard in 2017, is fully healthy and redshirt senior Joshua Alabi saw significant playing time last year, including a start in place of Munford at the Rose Bowl.

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Coach Ryan Day

 

Head coach Ryan Day begins his first spring drills at the helm of the Ohio State football program on Wednesday, March 6 when spring practice kicks off in Columbus. The Buckeyes will start with a 9 a.m. workout at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, the first of 15 practices that will conclude on April 13 with the LiFE Sports Spring Game, presented by Nationwide, at Ohio Stadium.

Day officially became the 25th head coach in Ohio State football history in the early morning hours of Jan. 2, 2019, moments after the Buckeyes wrapped up a 28-23 victory over Washington in the 105th Rose Bowl Game. Day has led prolific Buckeye offenses the past two seasons as the team’s offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach and filled in extremely well as the team’s acting head coach for the first three games of the 2017 season. The 39-year-old Day has already been a part of six championships at Ohio State: back-to-back Big Ten championships; two Big Ten East Division titles; the 2018 Cotton Bowl and this year’s Rose Bowl.

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51 Lettermen Returning

 

Day’s first Buckeye team will be an experienced one: the Buckeyes’ roster features 14 fifth-year seniors and 31 total seniors. Among the 51 returning lettermen are 19 on offense, 29 on defense and two on special teams. A total of 13 starters are back from last year’s Big Ten champion and Rose Bowl champion squad that became just the third team in program history to win 13 or more games in a season.

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Buckeyes By The Numbers

 

51 – Lettermen returning
19 – Lettermen lost
13 – Starters returning and lost
14 – Fifth-year seniors
36 – Seniors on roster
3 – Starting specialists returning in 2019
6 – 2019 recruit class early enrollees
4 – Off ensive players with at least six starts
8 – Defensive players with at least six starts
130th – Season of Ohio State football
7 – Consecutive seasons of 11-or-more wins

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