| By Dave Biddle |
Ohio State’s players move into to the team hotel on Saturday, and the Buckeyes will hold the first practices of training camp on Sunday.
Let’s take a look at the main storylines for OSU entering camp.
Who will be the starting running back? Redshirt freshman Mike Weber will likely start the season-opener against Bowling Green on Sept. 3, but I fully expect Ohio State will go with RB-by-committee early in the season. Junior Curtis Samuel will definitely be a starter on the offense – it’s just a matter of whether he’ll be the No. 1 H-back (hybrid RB/WR in Urban Meyer’s scheme) or the primary RB. Samuel gave Ezekiel Elliott a run for his money for the starting running back job two years ago when Samuel was a true freshman. It won’t be surprising to see him beat out Weber, but right now it looks like Weber will start at RB and Samuel will start at H-back. Other RBs and H-backs that will be in the mix are senior Dontre Wilson, as well as true freshmen Demario McCall and Antonio Williams.
Are the inexperienced WRs ready for prime time? The Buckeyes are very talented and deep at the wide receiver position, but they are extremely inexperienced. Sixth-year senior Corey Smith and third-year sophomore Noah Brown will be the starters, and then a host of players will be vying for the backup jobs. The list includes Parris Campbell, K.J. Hill, Parris Campbell, Austin Mack, Torrance Gibson, Bin Victor, Terry McLaurin, James Clark, Johnnie Dixon and Alex Stump.
Is Michael Jordan really going to start on the OL from day one? A true freshman offensive lineman has not started from day one in his OSU career since someone named Orlando Pace in 1994. However, Michael Jordan, a true freshman guard from Canton, Mich., looks ready to buck that trend. It’s not etched in stone yet that Jordan will be a starter, but he will begin camp running with the first-team offense.
Do the Buckeyes have enough depth in their secondary? At cornerback, fourth-year junior Gareon Conley will be one of the best players in the Big Ten and could be a late first-round NFL draft pick next spring. However, he’s the only returning starter in OSU’s secondary. The other starting corner will likely be sophomore Denzel Ward, who has the distinction of being the fastest player on a team that has a bevy of really fast guys. He will be pushed by third-year sophomore Marshon Lattimore. However, Lattimore has battled hamstring injuries throughout his brief OSU career, and compounding the problem is there isn’t much depth behind him. True freshman Jordan Fuller might be called on as the top backup cornerback if Lattimore’s injuries linger. Another player in the mix could be redshirt freshman Damon Arnette.
At safety, the depth is equally as thin for the “Silver Bullets.” Third-year sophomore Malik Hooker has one starting spot locked down, and there is talk he could be an immediate upgrade over Tyvis Powell. But Hooker barely received any playing time at safety last year with Powell and Vonn Bell taking the vast majority of reps. The other starting safety will either be Erick Smith or Damon Webb, who are both juniors. Smith is coming off a torn ACL that abruptly ended his 2015 season. Webb moved from corner to safety in the spring and looked good. Fourth-year junior Cam Burrows will likely round out the two-deep at safety, but Eric Glover-Williams – a converted corner – could also work his way in the mix.