Ohio State Football: Projecting Post-Spring 2-Deep Depth Chart

By (Featured Columnist) on April 27, 2014

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"The way they treat it here, spring is the opportunity to go earn a position."

That was Tyvis Powell, one of the new starting safeties for Ohio State's revamped defense, talking about the opportunities that were up for grabs in Columbus, Ohio this spring.

Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes are working to replace 10 starters and a number of key reserves from last year's team. With that turnover, the coaching staff had a busy spring trying to identify new playmakers for the 2014 season.

Here's a projected post-spring two-deep depth chart for the Buckeyes (definitive starters listed in bold, position battles still open are italicized).

Quarterback

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Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Quarterback: Braxton MillerCardale Jones

Even though Braxton Miller missed all of spring practice as he recovered from minor shoulder surgery, his standing as the starter was never in doubt. As the Big Ten's MVP for two years running, Ohio State's offense will be built around his otherworldly skills this season.

His injury gave reserves Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett an opportunity to battle for the backup spot that was held by Kenny Guiton for the past two years. Jones surged ahead with a solid spring, locking up the No. 2 spot behind Miller.

Running Back

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Michael Conroy

Running Back: Ezekiel Elliott, Rod Smith

Replacing Carlos Hyde will be no easy task, but a deep stable of running backs puts Ohio State in a great position.

Ezekiel Elliott entered the spring with the most momentum, and he's in a great position to lock up the starting spot this fall. Rod Smith was playing well early, but he missed the home stretch of the spring as he caught up on academics. 

Bri'onte Dunn, Warren Ball and Curtis Samuel give the Buckeyes tremendous depth, but Elliott and Smith will likely be the top options this fall.

Wide Receiver

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USA TODAY Sports

Wide Receiver: Dontre Wilson, Jalin Marshall

Wide Receiver: Devin Smith, Michael Thomas

Wide Receiver: Evan Spencer, Corey Smith

Despite returning two starters from last year's wide receiver corps, Urban Meyer was having a hard time naming a starter after the Buckeyes' spring game.

That assessment didn't factor in Dontre Wilson, who snagged the starting H-back position earlier this spring. Wilson missed the spring game, but he's had a fantastic offseason as he transitions to a new position.

Devin Smith and Evan Spencer have a ton of experience, but Michael Thomas and Corey Smith are pushing those longtime starters for playing time.

Tight End

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Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Tight End: Jeff Heuerman, Nick Vannett


Ohio State could go three deep at tight end this year, making it one of the deepest units on the team.


Jeff Heuerman is back for his senior season after catching 26 passes for 466 yards and four touchdowns last year. He missed some time this spring after breaking his nose early and then spraining his foot late, but that gave the coaching staff an opportunity to get a long look at backup Nick Vannett.


Vannett was so good that he has Meyer contemplating two-tight end sets for the fall. With Marcus Baugh as a third option, the Buckeyes have an enormous amount of depth.

Offensive Line

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Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Left Tackle: Taylor Decker, Kyle Dodson

Left Guard: Antonio Underwood, Joel Hale

Center: Jacoby Boren, Billy Price

Right Guard: Pat Elflein, Tommy Brown

Right Tackle: Darryl Baldwin, Evan Lisle

Ohio State's offensive line must replace four senior starters this year, and after spring ball, only one of those holes has been filled.

That honor goes to Pat Elflein, who secured the right guard position vacated by Marcus Hall. Taylor Decker, who played right tackle all of last season, has moved to the left side to protect Braxton Miller's blind side.

The left guard, center and right tackle positions remain open. The center position in particular will be one to watch this fall, when Alabama transfer Chad Lindsay joins the fold.

Defensive Line

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Wilfredo Lee

Defensive End: Joey Bosa, Steve Miller

Defensive Tackle: Adolphus Washington, Tommy Schutt

Defensive Tackle: Michael Bennett, Chris Carter

Defensive End: Noah Spence, Tyquan Lewis

While Ohio State's offensive line struggles through attrition, the defensive line returns three of four starters and nearly every pivotal backup. 

That group will be led by defensive ends Joey Bosa and Noah Spence, who combined for 28 tackles for loss and 15.5 sacks last season. That number is even more impressive considering Bosa didn't become a starter until midway through the season.

The line will be anchored by Adolphus Washington and Michael Bennett. Washington started last season as a defensive end, but he added weight and moved to the interior. His strength and speed will be an asset as he rushes the passer from the inside.

Linebacker

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Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Linebacker: Joshua PerryTrey Johnson

Linebacker: Curtis Grant, Raekwon McMillan

Linebacker: Darron Lee, Chris Worley

Ohio State lost one of its most disruptive defenders when Ryan Shazier decided to enter the draft instead of returning to Columbus for his senior season.

Joshua Perry, who started as a strong-side linebacker last season, has flipped to the other side to fill Shazier's old position. The other returning starter, middle linebacker Curtis Grant, is battling true freshman Raekwon McMillan for the top spot.

McMillan, rated a 5-star prospect and the No. 1 inside linebacker, according to 247 Sports, enrolled early at Ohio State to take part in spring drills. He came in and impressed immediately, alongside redshirt freshman Darron Lee, and the two should be heavily involved in the rotation this fall.

Secondary

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Michael Conroy

Cornerback: Doran Grant, Gareon Conley

Safety: Tyvis Powell, Ron Tanner

Safety: Vonn Bell, Cameron Burrows

Cornerback: Armani Reeves, Eli Apple

Ohio State's secondary is undergoing an overhaul, literally and schematically. 

The Buckeyes are replacing three starters, including both safeties, with cornerback Doran Grant the lone returner. The starting unit would have been cemented if not for an injury to safety Vonn Bell, who sprained his MCL during the first spring practice. 

The group is responding well to a new scheme brought about by new co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash. The Buckeyes have abandoned the zone defense that opened up huge holes in its pass defense last year. Instead, they're playing press coverage exclusively, making the easy throws more difficult.

Frankly, though, almost any improvement would be welcome after the Buckeyes' horrendous season last year.

 

All stats via NCAA.com.

David Regimbal is the lead Ohio State football writer for Bleacher Report. 
Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.

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