COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohio State held its annual spring game Saturday at The Horseshoe, which featured a moment of silence and video tribute for the late Dwayne Haskins.

OSU quarterback C.J. Stroud also honored Haskins by wearing his last name on the No. 7 jersey that Haskins used to wear as Buckeye — a number Stroud now wears at Ohio State.

“That’s a big brother of mine and I wanted to honor him the right way,” Stroud said. “He changed the culture here . . . Dwayne’s legacy will live on.”

Below are three takeaways from the Buckeyes’ intra-squad scrimmage.

#1 Defensive end depth

The defensive line may be the most talented position group at Ohio State and that’s including the wide receiver room. OSU coach Ryan Day believes the defensive line can rotate players three-deep and that was made clear in the spring game.

“The depth of the d-line is certainly going to be a strength of ours,” Day said.

Rising sophomore J.T. Tuimoloau will take a massive step this year after getting a full offseason under his belt. He joined the Buckeyes last July as a true freshman but was still able to work his way into the rotation. This season, he should start at one of the defensive end positions and showed flashes of what he’s capable of in the scrimmage, including a tackle for a loss and a sack on back-to-back plays in the first quarter.

Fellow sophomore Jack Sawyer had a nice day as well, recording what equates to two sacks. With the offense inside the red zone, Sawyer beat Paris Johnson Jr. to the spot and was held by Johnson for a penalty. On the next drive, the offense faced 3rd and 14 and Sawyer got to the quarterback for sack to force fourth down. It could be argued Johnson held Sawyer on more than one occasion, which is saying a lot since both Sawyer and Johnson were ranked No. 1 in Ohio when they came to Ohio State.

“I think J.T. and Jack have both had a very good offseason. They’ve gotten stronger, they’ve gotten faster, their technique been better and you saw that today,” Day said. “If they continue to build this summer, then they’re going to be a force in the fall.”

Ohio State also returns veterans Zach Harrison, Javontae Jean-Baptiste and Tyler Friday. Defensive coordinator Jim Knowles said he doesn’t care who starts because they’ll be used in the rotation.

#2 Running back backups

TreVeyon Henderson is the clear starter at running back after setting an Ohio State record for most touchdowns by a true freshman. But who will the Buckeyes turn to when he needs a breather or, worse-case scenario, get injured?

Evan Pryor and Miyan Williams put any fears to bed about whether could fill after both backs totaled more than 100 yards Saturday.

Pryor played four games last season and flashed at times, including a 48-yard game against Indiana, but he showed even more in the spring game totaling 106 total yards and a TD on 13 touches.

“He’s had a very good spring,” Day said. “He can change direction in short areas, he’s good out of the backfield, he can catch the ball . . . If he continues to grow and can hang onto the ball, then he’s going to have an impact on this offense.”

Williams played more often last year, racking up 507 yards and picked up where he left off with Master Teague onto the NFL and Marcus Crowley out with what Day called more of “a long-term” injury. Williams rushed 15 times for 101 yards, including an impressive 36-yard run made possible by a nasty juke move near the line of scrimmage to make the play possible.

“We have three really good running backs and we have a fourth coming this summer in Dallan Hayden,” Day said. “They’ve had a good spring. I feel solid about that.”

#3 Defensive backs held their own

Anytime you face the No. 1 offense in the country, you have to yards will be allowed. That’s exactly what happened to start the game when Stroud led the offense on a 75-yard drive, capped off by an 29-yard touchdown to Jaxon Smith-Njigba who didn’t play much after that opening drive. OSU then marched down the field with sophomore Kyle McCord who threw a 24-yard touchdown to tight end Joe Royer, who Stroud mentioned as a player to watch out for this season.

After those drives, the defense settled down and made some big plays.

“I was very pleased,” Knowles said. “We’re continuing to work on playing close to people, throwing punches, being aggressive with our coverage and that may be a little bit of a change for them. They’re adapting to it and you know we’re going against the best receiving core in the country, so I think it’s going to continue to be a reason for them to get better.”

Denzel Burke, who had the most zone coverage snaps last season in the Big Ten without allowing a touchdown, made arguably the hardest play of the day by breaking up a pass one-on-one on a fade route in the end zone against a much bigger Marvin Harrison Jr.

True freshman safety Kye Stokes also impressed with a couple nice plays. He had a pass breakup along the sideline with 47 seconds left in the first half nd broke up another pass from Stroud across the middle of the field that should’ve been an interception. Defensive coordinator Jim Knowles said this will be a safety-driven defense that uses four safeties at a time, so keep an eye out to see if the true freshman can work his way into the rotation this fall.

“Kye has had a good spring and without watching the film I thought he had a great game,” Knowles said. “he flashed and looked like he rose to the occasion. What you worry about with a young guy is the bright lights and he looked like it was no problem for him.”

Another safety to watch is Jordan Hancock who had two big pass breakups and a tackle for a loss.

“I’ve been very impressed with the corners, the safeties. They’ve shown up to get their hands on balls and be aggressive and I think you saw some of that today,” Day said. “I think they’ve really grabbed onto what coach [Tim] Walton and coach [Perry] Eliano have been doing with them. They’re playing with confidence.”

QB stats

  • C.J. Stroud: 14-of-22 for 120 yards and 1 TD
  • Kyle McCord: 14-of-20 for 129 yards and 1 TD
  • Devin Brown: 11-of-24 for 141 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT