COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohio State begins the season Thursday when the Buckeyes take on Minnesota on the road at 8 p.m.
Below is a look at a two-deep projected depth chart for the Buckeyes offense.
Starter: C.J. Stroud
Backup: Kyle McCord
Stroud was named the starting quarterback Aug. 21 after setting himself apart during fall camp. Several receivers have described Stroud as more of a pocket passer than Justin Fields but added the redshirt freshman can use his feet when needed. Coach Ryan Day has not named Stroud’s backup, but McCord appears to have the best arm of all three quarterbacks, which gives the true freshman an edge over redshirt freshman Jack Miller III.
Starter: Master Teague
Backups: Miyan Williams/TreVeyon Henderson
Master Teague split carries with Trey Sermon last season until Teague suffered a concussion in the Buckeyes’ 22-10 Big Ten championship game win over Northwestern. His injury was overshadowed by a record-breaking 331-yard, three touchdown performance by Sermon, but Teague returns with the most experience and what he calls improved vision at the line of scrimmage. Teague will not be the featured back as he’ll split carries with redshirt freshman Miyan Williams. TreVeyon Henderson will have chances like Sermon did to show what he can do in his first season as a Buckeye.
Wide Receiver (Z): Chris Olave
Backup: Julian Fleming
Wide Receiver (X): Garrett Wilson
Backup: Marvin Harrison Jr.
Slot receiver: Jaxon Smith-Njigba
Backup: Emeka Egbuka
Ohio State has the deepest, most talented receivers in the country, which will be a massive help to Stroud as he gets adjusted to the starting role. Olave and Wilson return as starters, while younger players such as Emeka Egbuka and Marvin Harrison Jr. will get playing time alongside standout sophomores Julian Fleming and Jaxon Smith-Njigba.
Starter: Jeremy Ruckert
Backup: Cade Stover
Jeremy Ruckert could have left for the NFL and been a third-round draft pick. But instead he decided to return for his senior year and show what he’s capable of doing in a full season. Behind him will likely be Cade Stover, who came to OSU as a linebacker, moved to the defensive line and ended up as a tight end, which is where offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson believed he belonged in the first place. It remains to be seen how Gee Scott Jr. will handle his move from wide receiver to tight end, but Wilson has been pleased with his progression in the offseason.
Left Tackle Starter: Nicholas Petit-Frere
Left Tackle Backup: Josh Fryar, Thayer Munford
Ohio State’s offensive line will look much different than it did a year ago and not just because the Buckeyes lost Josh Myers and Wyatt Davis to the NFL. Petit-Frere and Thayer Munford ended the 2020 season ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in lowest quarterback pressure percentage allowed by a Power 5 tackle, but Ohio State offensive line coach Greg Studrawa is moving Munford inside to play left guard, which will help the senior captain show his versatility when the NFL comes calling.
Left Guard Starter: Thayer Munford
Left Guard Backup: Matt Jones, Donovan Jackson
Matt Jones played a considerable amount of snaps last year and is capable of playing either guard position when called upon. Don’t expect the junior from Brooklyn to be used only in case of injury as he’ll likely rotate in throughout the season. Meanwhile, true freshman Donovan Jackson is an absolute unit standing 6’4″ and weighing 300 pounds, and has the added benefit of learning from some of the best linemen in the nation.
Center Starter: Harry Miller
Center Backup: Luke Wypler
Harry Miller’s natural position is center despite playing left guard in 2020. Miller filled in at center last year and struggled at times but only after being thrust into the role unexpectedly. A full offseason and constant repetition with Stroud should mean a strong level of comfort and performance by Miller.
Right Guard Starter: Paris Johnson Jr.
Right Guard Backup: Matt Jones, Donovan Jackson
Yet another linemen playing an unfamiliar position, Paris Johnson Jr. moves to guard after coming to Ohio State as one of the top tackles in the class of 2019. Johnson has taken the transition in stride and been lauded by Munford, Petit-Frere and Studrawa for how quickly he’s learned the position.
Right Tackle Starter: Dawand Jones
Right Tackle Backup: Enokk Vimahi, Paris Johnson Jr.
Perhaps the most surprising change on the offensive line was Dawand Jones claiming the right tackle spot. It would have been widely believed that Munford moving to guard would mean Johnson playing tackle, but instead it was Jones, a basketball lover turned football stud, who will protect Stroud’s strong side when the season begins.