Ohio State begins fall camp on Aug. 10, and at first glance, casual observers of the Buckeyes would believe there are few areas of concern that must be on the mind of head coach Urban Meyer. After all, the defending national champion Buckeyes return starters at virtually every position, and a talented crop of incoming freshmen have arrived to reinforce the already formidable depth.
Dig a little deeper, and one can find position groups that the Ohio State coaching staff will be devoting considerable time and effort in making sure that the Buckeyes are in good shape when the season begins at Virginia Tech on Sept. 7, Labor Day night.
Ohio State's Five Biggest Fall Camp Storylines
Braxton Miller may no longer be in the mix at quarterback, but just because a three-man race has been essentially cut down to two players does not make this decision any easier for Meyer. J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones will wage a battle that will be the focus of the fans and media, and it will be imperative to Meyer to make sure that this competition does not result in a divided locker room. Meyer has stated that a starter will probably be named by the end of August, so all eyes and ears will be focused firmly on this pivotal battle.
2. Defensive Tackle
Michael Bennett has moved on to the NFL, so one defensive tackle position is open for the taking. Adolphus Washington returns at one spot, but it will be incumbent upon the coaching staff to rotate defensive linemen to avoid injury and stay fresh. Tommy Schutt is a projected starter, but is by no means guaranteed the spot. Others in the mix include Donovan Munger (redshirt sophomore), Joel Hale (redshirt senior), Michael Hill (redshirt sophomore), Dylan Thompson (redshirt freshman), Tracy Sprinkle (redshirt sophomore), as well as freshmen Joshua Alabi, Robert Landers and DaVon Hamilton. Of these, Thompson is the lone player who has not yet been cleared for full participation in fall drills.
3. Tight End
Nick Vannett returns as a starter, but in an offense that often features two tight ends, finding a second is going to be a priority in fall camp. Redshirt sophomore Marcus Baugh is probably next in line, yet Baugh has had off-the-field issues that have landed him in the coaching staff’s doghouse. Incoming freshmen A.J. Alexander and Rashod Berry may be asked to contribute right away, provided they perform well in fall camp.
4. Defensive End
Joey Bosa is arguably the top defensive player in the nation, projected as high first-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. But Bosa was recently suspended for the season opener at Virginia Tech, due to a violation of university policy. Even with Bosa in the lineup, Ohio State needs to determine a starter on the other end of its defensive line, as both Rashad Frazier and Steve Miller have exhausted their eligibility. At the conclusion of spring practice, TyQuan Lewis was mentioned as the probable starter opposite Bosa. Other options at the position include sophomore Jalyn Holmes, redshirt freshmen Sam Hubbard and Darius Slade, and incoming freshman Jashon Cornell.
Gareon Conley has been penciled in at the cornerback spot opposite Eli Apple, but does not have a firm hold on the starting job. Redshirt freshman Marshon Lattimore and sophomore Damon Webb will likely push Conley all throughout fall camp for the spot, and possibly even into the season.
— Written by Chip Minnich, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a diehard Ohio State fan. Minnich also writes and podcasts for menofthescarletandgray.com, a site dedicated to Ohio sports with a special emphasis on the Buckeyes. Follow him on Twitter @ChipMinnich.