COLUMBUS — A couple months might not be enough for Ohio State to truly get over the devastating end of last season.
But putting the pads back on for 15 practices and finding one more outlet for their frustration should only help the Buckeyes as they transition from the grueling winter conditioning program into spring camp.
There will still be reminders about that score from the Fiesta Bowl. But that’s just one part of the motivational challenge to get Ohio State right back to the College Football Playoff again this season, and these on-field drills in March and April are critical to setting the tone, forging the identity of the team and even potentially determining a few starting jobs.
“Certainly we didn’t reach all of our goals, and that’s something we’ve got right back in here and talked about,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. “And they’re hungry. This team’s going to be hungry, [ready] to turn it around. That was a tough game to swallow, but we’re already moved on looking towards the future.
“I think as we get going and we start to practice and go through work outs we want to find out who the new leaders are going to be. We lost some really good leaders and some guys who declared for the draft. Those were big leaders for us. We’re going to need some guys to step into those roles. And as we start to practice, I think we’ll get a feel for what we need.”
That process starts on Monday for the Buckeyes, and Lettermen Row will be there throughout camp with comprehensive coverage when they hit the field. What can be expected as Ryan Day gets rolling for his second season in charge? Our staff is once again ready to deliver Five Bold Predictions ahead of these foundational practices.
Austin Ward: Cameron Brown will ease cornerback concerns
There isn’t a position of weakness on a roster with as much talent as Ohio State has on hand. But it’s true that the secondary is largely unproven heading into spring camp with Jeff Okudah and Damon Arnette both gone at cornerback and Jordan Fuller no longer at safety. That’s a lot of production to replace, but the Buckeyes should be absolutely fine — and the emergence of Cameron Brown should go a long way to easing any concerns about the defensive backfield this offseason. Brown has all the tools needed to be a shutdown corner, and Kerry Coombs has proven several times over that he knows how to mold that talent and maximize potential. Sevyn Banks is another guy the Buckeyes will likely be counting on in the competition for playing time, but Brown has a chance to make a big move and potentially claim a starting spot by April.
Jeremy Birmingham: Jameson Williams will have splashy spring
Chris Olave is looking for redemeption. Garrett Wilson is looking to break out and become a national superstar. The four early-enrolled freshmen are looking to live up to high expectations. No one is looking at Jameson Williams — and that, my friends, is a mistake. Williams had flashes of what he’s capable of during his freshman season, but inconsistency catching the football overshadowed the fact that he was close to uncoverable in his limited opportunities. Those opportunities are going to increase exponentially, and Williams is only going to be better physically than he was before he arrived on campus.
Tim May: Teradja Mitchell ready to bloom for Ohio State
The debate continues over whether Ohio State is more the DBU, the WRU or the LBU as yet another NFL draft looms. And on the cusp of the start of spring drills, all three of those position groups offer compelling intrigue in regards to who will rise to fill key personnel losses for the Buckeyes. But this missive is more about who can emerge from the linebacker corps to become more of a regular in the fall. It says here that at least one of those tulips will be Teradja Mitchell. Whether he’ll challenge returning starter Tuf Borland for time at the MIKE spot, or whether he might play well enough to gain a look at the WILL spot, vacated by draft-bound Malik Harrison and expected to be contested by Baron Browning and K’Vaughan Pope, remains to be seen. But I must agree with the tweet Mitchell, the collision specialist, put out a few weeks ago: “Gotta thank God in advance for all the blessings about to come my way.”
Spencer Holbrook: Harry Miller makes guard transition look easy
Harry Miller was recruited as the country’s top center prospect. But rather than sit behind future All-American center Josh Myers for another season, Miller can make the transition to guard — and he’ll make that look easy. Miller will be taking over for Jonah Jackson, but that won’t be an issue. After making a brilliant first impression last season, Miller will find a spot along the offensive line early in the spring, solidify his spot and stay there for a run at the Joe Moore Award for the nation’s best overall unit. The former five-star may never want to switch to center if he can play guard at that high of a level.
Will Crall: Josh Proctor will turn heads for Buckeyes
Now in his third year with the program, Josh Proctor will emerge as a playmaker and a key member of the Ohio State defense. Proctor has been waiting his turn behind Jordan Fuller, who has been a reliable fixure in the Buckeyes secondary for the past three seasons. And With the departure of all of last year’s starting secondary except for Shaun Wade, and the dismissals of Amir Riep and Jahsen Wint, the Buckeyes defensive backfield is suddenly not very deep and the least experienced unit on the team. Now is Proctor’s time to shine. The prediction here is he will step-up to the task and excel under the direction of Kerry Coombs.