As the Ohio State Buckeyes ready for spring football, several position groups are ready for replenishment. Just like every other college football team across the country, Ohio State lost several players to graduation and possible NFL stardom. Just like every other college football team across the country, questions emerge as to how Ohio State will replace these key players for 2021.
Ohio State head coach Ryan Day and his staff have prepared well for this situation, having recruited exceptionally well over the last several seasons. The Buckeyes have begun winter workouts, and soon Ohio State fans will be reading and hearing about which new player is emerging as a possible starter or contributor when the calendar moves into March and April.
Below are players, and/or position groups, who seem likely to make an impact for the Buckeyes this coming fall:
Paris Johnson Jr., OT
A rising sophomore, Johnson was an occasional contributor in 2020 but is destined to play substantially more this fall. Thrust into action versus Clemson in The 2021 Sugar Bowl, Johnson did not disappoint, as evidenced by this play below.
Johnson was ranked as the top-ranked offensive tackle when he signed with Ohio State for the 2020 season. With the return of Thayer Munford and Nicholas Petit-Frere at offensive tackle, look for Johnson to get a long look at one of the open guard positions in 2021.
Jack Sawyer, DE
A true freshman, Sawyer enrolled early at Ohio State and will be participating in spring practice for the Buckeyes. A native of Pickerington, Ohio, which is a nearby Columbus suburb, Sawyer was a dominant athlete for his high school on both the football field and the basketball court.
Sawyer will have ample opportunities to contribute immediately at defensive end. Below are some highlights from Sawyer's junior year of high school, as Sawyer opted out of playing his senior year at Pickerington North in preparation for his early enrollment at Ohio State.
TreVeyon Henderson and Evan Pryor, RBs
Both Henderson and Pryor are early enrollees at Ohio State, and both were highly-touted, heavily recruited running backs in high school. With the declaration by Trey Sermon for the 2021 NFL Draft, the running back position is available for the taking by a number of players on the roster. Master Teague III is the likely favorite to start, but other players such as Miyan Williams, Marcus Crowley, and Steele Chambers all will have their opportunities to claim the position. Henderson and Pryor will both throw their respective hats into the ring to try to win the job, if not earn possible playing time this coming fall.
C.J. Stroud/Jack Miller III/Kyle McCord, QBs
The position group that will dominate the talk of Ohio State football throughout the spring, and probably into the 2021 season. How will Day answer this question: who replaces Justin Fields at quarterback?
Both Stroud and Miller played sparingly as true freshmen in 2020, with Stroud as the likely starter going into 2021 spring football. Kyle McCord signed in December 2020 and enrolled for spring practice, and Day has pledged to make the competition as fair and even as he possibly can for all of the participants.
On the quarterback competition, Ryan Day stated, "We get to see them in practice every day, but really what matters is how they play... So we're going to have to find ways this spring between C.J., Jack, and Kyle to give them as many game-like situations to figure out exactly what we've got because we can't go into that first game without knowing, or at least having an idea. I guess we'll never know until we're in a game, but we've got to try and simulate the games the best we can in practice, which may be a unique way of doing the spring."