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Ohio State football: New faces, new roles as spring ball begins

Mar. 5—COLUMBUS — Ohio State football began spring practice Tuesday morning.

Although the temperature was in the mid 50s, the Buckeyes practiced indoors at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, starting what they hope will be a long journey that culminates with a return to the championship form that has eluded them for the last three seasons.

"No pads, but it was good to see a bunch of guys running around," head coach Ryan Day said. "We had good energy out there, and it really was a continuation of the offseason, which I thought was excellent. You could see guys moving around with a purpose."

Reporters were allowed to view the first few periods, a snapshot of the team that yielded a few noteworthy items.

Aaron Scott Jr., a true freshman from Springfield, was right in the mix at cornerback, where he physically looked the part at a listed 6-foot, 185 pounds.

Wearing a No. 5 jersey that will be familiar to fans of the Wildcats, Scott sported a black stripe on his helmet along with the rest of the newcomers to the program. As did Nigel Glover, a redshirt freshman linebacker from Northmont going through spring practice at Ohio State for the first time after he transferred from Northwestern late last summer.

"We have different guys are in different phases of their career," Day said. "Individually, each guy has different things they are working on, so some guys are just figuring out what to do. Where am I going? Then there are guys who are veterans who have played a lot of football and they're working on other things."

Also running with the linebackers was Sonny Styles, a junior-to-be from Pickerington.

He was a starting safety last season, but at a listed 6-4, 235, he looks more like a linebacker, the position his father, Lorenzo, played at Ohio State in the early 1990s.

"We want to put guys in position to be the most successful they can and also embrace it," Day said. "Sonny has wanted to do whatever he can to help the team. We know that his skill set is versatile, so we will continue to work on that. You will see him at linebacker. You will also see him do some other things as time goes on. We feel like he brings a lot to the table there. He can do so many different things."

Styles is still listed as a safety on the roster, and at times last season he lined up in spots where he could be a linebacker or a defensive back depending on the play call.

"That's the exciting thing year in and year out that you have people in different spots and you have to figure out how you want to utilize them the best," Day said. "Today was day one and real basic. He was working at linebacker today. We'll watch the film and continue to build the package."

Although most of the viewing window was devoted to drills, the team did jump into a brief 11 on 11 period near the beginning.

That included C.J. Hicks, a 6-3, 233-pound junior to be from Alter High School, as one of the first-team linebackers along with Cody Simon.

While seniors Jack Sawyer, J.T. Tuimoloau, Ty Hamilton and Tyleik Williams were up front, the first-team secondary included cornerbacks Denzel Burke and Davison Igbinosun, nickel back Jordan Hancock and senior Lathan Ransom at safety next to Alabama transfer Caleb Downs.

After practice, Day also revealed a handful of players who will not be able to take part in spring drills as they recover from injuries, a group that includes Malik Hartford, a sophomore safety from Lakota West.

Also set to miss spring are freshman linebacker Payton Pierce, senior safety Kourt Williams, freshman cornerback Bryce West and sophomore offensive lineman Miles Walker.

Day did not identify any of the injuries players were dealing with but said they all are expected to be ready for preseason practice in August.

Ohio State is set to practice 13 more times this spring before concluding spring ball with the annual Scarlet and Gray Game on April 13.