COLUMBUS — Ohio State wants an obsession with improvement, and that will be reflected in Gold.
Not trophies or rings, although those can come later based on the work put in during the summer.
No, the Buckeyes instead designate their toughest grinders, their best work ethics and the players with the most significant gains by putting them in the golden group. And more often than not, earning one of those coveted spots is typically a strong indication that the results from the weight room are going to show up on the field.
“We grade our guys in there,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. “We have a Champions meeting right before the opening of preseason camp, and if you’re Gold that means that you’re one of the top performers in the weight room.
” … We’re expected to be the best, and with that comes great responsibility. So, we’ll wake up every day and just grind. I keep using the word obsessed. Our players have to become obsessed with maximizing themselves — in the weight room, watching film, getting themselves prepared to play against Minnesota.”
There is still a relatively long way to go before the attention shifts directly to the Gophers. But after getting a bit of a break after spring camp, the Buckeyes will dive into that summer conditioning program when the roster gets back together in May.
Which players could make moves up the depth chart with strong, golden efforts over the next few months? Lettermen Row is breaking it down with five candidates who could be in position to help the Buckeyes defend the Big Ten crown by September.
OL Luke Wypler
A limited spring for the projected starting center didn’t change the expectations for Harry Miller as the likely leader of the unit, but it did crack open the door for a younger guy to give the Buckeyes something else to think about heading into training camp. Luke Wypler certainly made the most of the first-team snaps that were available with Miller recovering from an offseason surgery, and at a minimum the former four-star recruit proved that he can be a capable backup in the middle of the line. But he may have done more than that with those valuable practice reps, potentially making a case to earn a spot at guard or maybe allowing Miller to stay in that role with Wypler taking over in the middle. It’s a safe bet that Miller is still going to be a first-stringer for the Buckeyes, but Wypler getting even stronger over the coming months could put him in contention to join the the lineup as well.
DL Noah Potter
One look at the redshirt sophomore defensive lineman makes it clear that Noah Potter is getting the most out of the strength program at Ohio State. The former four-star from Mentor has now bulked up to 270 pounds on his 6-foot-6 frame, and that strength to go along with his pass-rushing quickness makes for an intriguing option for the Buckeyes as they look to fill the three-technique spot inside. Larry Johnson has had plenty of success in the past converting edge rushers into dangerous weapons on the interior, and Potter was a disrupter at times during open-viewing periods of spring practice as he used his size to get hands up and bat down passes. With another couple months to develop physically, Potter could be a handful for guards to try to block in the trenches.
TE Gee Scott
The Buckeyes didn’t get to see as much as they would have liked from Gee Scott during the spring after he was limited late in camp due to injury. But they were certainly encouraged both by his willingness to move to tight end and how his skills could translate as he shifts away from wide receiver. Scott has never been shy about blocking on the perimeter, and he showed up looking the part physically last year even as a true freshman. To handle everything the Buckeyes require at tight end, Scott will need to keep tacking on more muscle after checking in at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds on the most recent roster. But he’s now got a couple months to do exactly that — and potentially jump into the lineup to grab one of the open rotational spots at tight end.
CB Lejond Cavazos
The first year on campus didn’t go the way any of the freshmen envisioned, and that’s perhaps doubly true for Lejond Cavazos as he’s battled injuries in addition to the COVID disruptions. The talented young cornerback still wasn’t a full participant in spring drills, which is a complication as he tries to tap into his four-star potential and compete for a regular role in the secondary. It’s unclear exactly what Cavazos has been dealing with more recently, but all indications from Ohio State were that he would be healthy and ready to go through summer conditioning ahead of training camp in August. If Cavazos can build a little momentum in the weight room, that could catapult him into contention at cornerback in a hurry.
DT Taron Vincent
The buzz is once again building for the former five-star. Now that Taron Vincent is finally healthy and looking at a normal offseason, he’s got a chance to get back on track to proving why he was rated as the top defensive tackle in his recruiting class. After losing Tommy Togiai early to the NFL Draft, Ohio State needs another mauler in the middle of the line to pair with Haskell Garrett. A stronger, more confident Vincent could be the answer the Buckeyes need — and he’s got a chance to raise the ceiling for the Rushmen.