The next time Ohio State takes the field, the Buckeyes could have a very different look.
If they don’t make the College Football Playoff, several NFL-bound players are likely to decide to sit out OSU’s bowl game, turning that into an audition for 2023.
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There will be a lot of roles that will need to be recast. Here’s a look at who’s leaving or likely to, and their possible replacements.
It would be shocking if C.J. Stroud doesn’t head to the NFL, where he’s projected to be among the top handful of selections. That will leave Kyle McCord and Devin Brown to battle for the starting job.
McCord, a five-star 2021 recruit who started one game for the injured Stroud in 2021, was given limited opportunities this season. Brown was a four-star recruit in 2022 by most recruiting sites, but On3.com named him its overall No. 1 prospect.
McCord has a strong arm and a mature approach. Brown also has a strong arm and might be more dynamic and mobile.
Miyan Williams is a junior and eligible to go to the NFL, but he’d unlikely to be a high draft pick. He and TreVeyon Henderson could be a formidable duo if they can stay healthy. It’s always possible that one could transfer if unhappy with sharing the workload. Dallan Hayden proved capable of handling a significant role. The Buckeyes also should get a boost from the return of Evan Pryor from an ACL injury. He’s particularly a threat as a pass-catcher.
The Buckeyes could lose as many as four starters here. Left tackle Paris Johnson Jr. is expected to be a first-round pick, and right tackle Dawand Jones could also be a high draft pick. Right guard Matthew Jones is a fifth-year senior, and junior center Luke Wypler will have to decide whether to enter the draft.
If Wypler leaves, left guard Donovan Jackson will be the lone holdover. That would make this unit the biggest question mark on the team other than quarterback. Josh Fryar would have the inside track at one of the tackles and Enokk Vimahi would likely be one of the guards. The other spots are up for grabs, with players such as Zen Michalski, George Fitzkpatrick and Jakob James among several contenders.
With Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka juniors-to-be, and Julian Fleming also expected back, this unit should again be a major strength. Remember, Harrison and McCord were high school teammates. It’ll be important for others to begin emerging, starting with Jayden Ballard.
Cade Stover has been in the program four years and might be ready to head to the NFL. If he leaves, Joe Royer, Gee Scott Jr., Bennett Christian and Sam Hart will battle for the job.
End Zach Harrison is off to the NFL. Tackle Taron Vincent also is a senior, as are rotation players Jerron Cage, Javontae Jean-Baptiste and Tyler Friday.
End J.T. Tuimoloau will return for his junior season as the linchpin of the line. Jack Sawyer also should see an expanded role, as will freshman Caden Curry, who was impressive in limited action.
Tackle Michael Hall Jr. was dynamic before an injury limited him the second half of the year. Ty Hamilton emerged as a starter. Tyleik Williams is gifted but needs to improve consistency. Larry Johnson’s unit is unlikely to be as deep as it was this year, but it still should be a strength.
Tommy Eichenberg and Steele Chambers are both eligible for the draft. Eichenberg, in particular, will be tempted after having a superb season. Cody Simon was solid in his return from a shoulder injury. C.J. Hicks was the crown jewel of OSU’s 2022 recruiting class and should be ready to make an impact.
Sophomore Denzel Burke will be looking to return to form after a disappointing sophomore season. Jordan Hancock is probably the leading contender to replace senior Cam Brown. Jyaire Brown and JK Johnson also will compete for that job. Improved play from this unit is a must.
Ronnie Hickman will enter the NFL draft, and grad transfer Tanner McAlister also won’t return. Josh Proctor, who lost his job to Lathan Ransom, went through Senior Day and is presumed not to be returning.
A Thorpe Award semifinalist, Ransom is eligible for the draft. Sonny Styles got some action at safety, and players and coaches gushed about his potential. Cameron Martinez, Kye Stokes and Kourt Williams also will be in the mix, though Williams’ career has been beset by injuries.
The Buckeyes will need to replace reliable place-kicker Noah Ruggles. Jake Seibert could be in line for that job. Punter Jesse Mirco will be back as a junior. Mason Arnold finished the year as the long-snapper after an injury to Bradley Robinson, who departs.
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This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Ohio State football team will look different in 2023