Last year was nearly the year of the Buckeye.
The Ohio State Football program went on an 11-game push through the Big Ten and beyond in 2022. They took dominant wins over the Penn State Nittany Lions, Michigan State Spartans, Iowa Hawkeyes and Wisconsin Badgers as they rolled through their conference schedule. The Buckeyes nearly had enough momentum to push themselves into the Big Ten championship game before an undefeated rival in the Michigan Wolverines took them down in a 45-23 win in Ohio Stadium.
This year will not feature the Big Ten of old.
With the additions of new head coaches in the Big Ten West, and the Indiana Hoosiers taking up 11th place in the 247Sports transfer portal team rankings, things are starting to change in the Big Ten Conference as a whole.
Will the Ohio State Buckeyes be ready to deal with these changes by the end of spring practice?
Will this year finally be the one for Kyle McCord?
The sophomore quarterback played sparingly for the Buckeyes during his first three seasons as he backed up junior C.J. Stroud in 2021 and 2022.
Ohio State football freshman Devin Brown will take the spot behind him. A former four-star recruit out of Corner Canyon high school in Draper, Utah, Brown passed up Ole Miss, Texas, Michigan State, Notre Dame, UCLA and Wisconsin offers to play for the Buckeyes. He was among the 13 early enrollees in Ohio State’s 2022 signing class.
Brown began wearing the No. 33 at age seven as a tribute to former TCU quarterback Sammy Baugh, but switched it in his sophomore year of high school senior running back had the number, Cleveland.com Ohio State beat reporter Nathan Baird wrote in a Tuesday article.
Tristan Gebbia, a super-senior transfer from Oregon State, spent four seasons with the Beavers before transferring to the Ohio State football program. Gebbia played in four games for Oregon State last season after not playing in 2021, earning 79 total passing yards after he completed 10 of his 11 pass attempts.
Ohio State football may have as many as three sophomore starters in this year’s defensive back class, with cornerbacks Denzel Burke and Jyaire Brown and free safety Kye Stokes taking up spots on the Ourlads depth chart.
Stokes, a former four-star recruit in the class of 2022, earned eight tackles and one forced fumble after he enrolled with the Buckeyes in January 2022.
Lathan Ransom, a near-lock for the strong safety spot, earned 49 total tackles, one interception, three pass deflections and one forced fumble last season.
Nickel safety Ja’Had Carter, arguably one of the sneakiest transfer portal moves for the Buckeyes, may earn snaps of his own after he earned 136 tackles, 91 solo tackles, five interceptions, seven pass deflections and two fumble recoveries during his three years at Syracuse.
Will Ohio State be able to keep up its tradition of having highly-touted defensive ends on the roster?
Jack Sawyer is a lock for the Ohio State defensive line after he played in 13 total football games in 2022. The 6-foot-4-inch lineman will play on the end, not the “Jack” linebacker position, the linebacker spot mainly in charge of pass rushing and run stopping, defensive coordinator Jim Knowles told 247Sports on Tuesday.
“Jack will be an end with J.T. and he’ll work on all those fundamentals of being an end,” Knowles said. “I think that’s important for Jack. I feel like he didn’t have the improvement or the big jump that he could have last year because he got involved in the Jack stuff and maybe he wasn’t as focused as he could have been to make those improvements at D-end.
“So I want to make sure I keep him at D-end opposite J.T.”
Sawyer earned 24 total tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks last year for the Buckeyes.
JT Tuimoloau took snaps in both 2021 and 2022 for the Buckeyes, earning a combined 45 tackles and six sacks in the two years he spent with the Buckeyes. He can take the starting spot alongside tackles Ty Hamilton and Tyleik Williams on the defensive line.
Freshmen ends Kenyatta Jackson and Omari Abor may see their chance on the line in 2023.
Ohio State’s spring game will take place at noon on April 15 in Ohio Stadium.