OSU Top 10 list: Things to watch in spring game

Published 9:24 pm Thursday, April 13, 2023

By Jim Naveau


Ten things to look for Saturday in Ohio State’s spring football game:
1. Will Kyle McCord take control of the quarterback competition?
Until Wednesday when Ryan Day announced Devin Brown won’t play Saturday because of a finger injury
on his throwing hand, the thing almost every Ohio State fan was looking forward to most in the spring
game was getting to see OSU’s two top quarterbacks, McCord and Brown, going head to head and
comparing them.
Brown’s absence means McCord, who was C.J. Stroud’s back-up the last two seasons, will probably get
most of the playing time with the first-team offense on Saturday instead of sharing it with Brown. No
matter what McCord does, it probably won’t decide the quarterback competition. But this could be an
opportunity for him to make one final spring practice statement.
Day said Brown’s injury is not serious and he should be able to participate fully in workouts this summer.
2. C.J. Hicks and Sonny Styles.
Hicks, a linebacker from Kettering Alter, and Styles, a safety from Pickerington Central, were the two 5-
star recruits in OSU’s 2022 recruiting class.
But Hicks, ranked as the No. 1 2022 recruit nationally at linebacker by 247sports.com, and Styles, ranked
No. 1 overall at his position, got most of their playing time on special teams last season. Styles played 12
snaps against Georgia in a College Football Playoff semifinal and Hicks did not play a non-special teams
snap all season.
Both could be looking to make one final spring practice statement for more playing time this season with
a big play or two.
3. Who is a freshman who might make an “Oh, wow!” type of play?
When wide receiver Garrett Wilson enrolled early in 2019 he made one of the most memorable plays I’ve
seen in 30 years of going to Ohio State spring games when he elevated like an NBA slam dunk contest
winner over Sevyn Banks for a touchdown catch.
Carnell Tate, a 4-star wide receiver from IMG Academy who enrolled early in January, might not be in the
same level as Wilson, but he might be a guy who could produce an explosive play on Saturday and on
some Saturdays in the future.
4. The offensive line. Finding solid replacements for offensive tackles Paris Johnson Jr. and Dawand
Jones and center Luke Wypler, who all declared for the the NFL draft, could be the difference between a
good season and a great season for OSU.
Because of the limitations on the defense in the spring game, like not being able to hit the quarterback and
restricted tackling, it’s not easy to judge offensive linemen. But it’s still something to look for, especially
if the defense dominates.
5. How do Ohio State’s transfer portal acquisitions look?
OSU brought in five new player via the transfer portal. Five is not a large number but it’s the most
transfers Ryan Day has had as the Buckeyes’ coach.

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The two most interesting players to come in through the portal are cornerback Davison Igbinosun, who
started 10 games at Ole Miss last season, and safety Ja’had Carter, a three-year starter at Syracuse.
Igbinosun should be on the field Saturday but Carter is questionable after suffering a knee injury in
6. The kickers. Noah Ruggles is gone after two seasons as Ohio State’s kicker. USC transfer Parker
Lewis, who made 26 of 35 field goal attempts in two seasons for the Trojans, and Jake Seibert appear
likely to battle it out for the starting job between now and the opener.
7. Dallan Hayden. The sophomore running back made a big bet on himself when he stayed at Ohio State
where he goes into his second season as, at best, the No. 3 man on the running backs depth chart behind
TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams, instead of exploring the transfer portal. So he might be a
player with something to prove.
Hayden rushed for more than 100 yards in three games last season, including 146 yards on 27 carries
against Maryland. But in the Buckeyes’ final two games last season he got only two carries against
Michigan and nine against Georgia.
8. Jack Sawyer. The former 5-star defensive end is from Pickerington North High School, so he never
really left home. But position-wise he is going home this season when he will be a full-time defensive end
and will not line up in the “jack” position, a combination of a defensive end and a linebacker in Jim
Knowles’ defensive scheme.
The hope is that Sawyer, who had 4.5 sacks last season, will be more of a force on defense as strictly a
defensive end.
Another reason to watch him Saturday is that he always gets a sack in spring games. He had three of them
two years ago and one last year.
9. Denzel Burke. The third-year cornerback had a big freshman season in 2021 but several injuries set him
back last fall. The spring game could provide a clue if he is ready for another big season in 2023 as a
10. Marvin Harrison Jr. Even if he doesn’t catch a pass, watch Marvin Harrison Jr. Even if he spends the
whole day on the sideline, watch Marvin Harrison Jr. He’s a special athlete.