Ohio State Football: 5 Players to Watch in Ohio State's Spring Game

David Regimbal@davidreg412Featured ColumnistApril 7, 2014

Ohio State running back Dontre Wilson (1) tries to avoid Illinois linebacker Mike Svetina (34) during the second half of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013, in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Jeff Haynes)
Jeff Haynes

After reading more than a month's worth of updates about spring practice, Ohio State fans will finally get a live look at the Buckeyes when the team takes the field for its annual spring game this Saturday.

Urban Meyer is looking to replace key starters such as Carlos Hyde, Ryan Shazier and Bradley Roby. The Buckeyes are also battling through a number of injuries as Braxton Miller, Vonn Bell, Jalin Marshall and Jeff Heuerman recover from minor surgeries.

Needless to say, Buckeyes fans will be seeing a lot of new players in action this weekend.

Here are five to watch. 


Ezekiel Elliott

Ohio State needs to replace one of the most productive running backs in school history, but the Buckeyes have a number of very talented ball-carriers.

Sophomore Ezekiel Elliott is setting himself apart.

Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 262 yards and two touchdowns on just 30 carries last season.
Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 262 yards and two touchdowns on just 30 carries last season.Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

After playing sparingly in half of Ohio State's 14 games last season, Elliott emerged as a legitimate playmaker this spring. The former 4-star prospect has added some weight this offseason, and that has shown up on the field as he has held his own against Ohio State's biggest linebackers

He still has that same explosiveness, though, so don't be surprised if he breaks a long run this Saturday.


Darron Lee

Ohio State's lost its most reliable defender—Ryan Shazier—to the NFL draft, so Meyer needs to fill a vacant spot at linebacker.

Darron Lee, the former 3-star athlete who played quarterback and safety in high school, has added weight and played inspired football this spring.

His move to linebacker was to add depth at a position of need, but he has beat out higher-rated players—primarily Trey Johnson—for a spot on Ohio State's first-team defense.

After redshirting as a freshman last year, this will be the public's first look at a guy who has impressed Meyer and risen to the top.


Cardale Jones

If Miller's first three years in Columbus taught us anything, it's that he needs a reliable backup.

Kenny Guiton, who saved the Buckeyes many times when Miller was sidelined, is gone. 

Redshirt sophomore Cardale Jones is looking to be his replacement.

Cardale Jones only threw two passes in three games as a reserve for the Buckeyes last year.
Cardale Jones only threw two passes in three games as a reserve for the Buckeyes last year.Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Both he and redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett have gotten a long look from the coaching staff this spring as Miller recovers from shoulder surgery. Buckeyes fans will be awarded the same opportunity this Saturday.

Jones has pulled ahead in that race, though, and could solidify the backup spot with a strong outing.


Armani Reeves

Ohio State ranked No. 110 (out of 123 teams) in pass defense last year, allowing opposing teams to throw for an average of 268 yards per game.

The Buckeyes are losing three starters from their secondary, but the biggest hole to fill comes with the departure of cornerback Roby.

Armani Reeves started the spring as Ohio State's second corner behind Doran Grant, and while he has impressed, redshirt freshmen Gareon Conley and Eli Apple are pressing for playing time.

The Buckeyes need drastic improvement on the back end of their defense, so if Reeves doesn't step up, Meyer won't hesitate to pull him for one of the younger guys.


Dontre Wilson

Most are very familiar with Dontre Wilson, the speedy playmaker who piled up 460 total yards and three touchdowns in a limited role last year.

With the departure of the team's leading receiver (Corey Brown) and leading rusher (Hyde), Meyer wants to expand Wilson's responsibilities this season.

So far this spring, he has proved he's up to the task.

Wilson has been named the starting H-back, the position that Percy Harvin made famous during Meyer's tenure at Florida. The former 4-star standout has thrived in that role, and Meyer specifically singled him out as the team's top playmaker.

Much of Ohio State's offense will go through Wilson this season, and Buckeyes fans should get a preview of that this Saturday.


All stats via NCAA.com. All recruiting information via 247Sports.com.

David Regimbal is the lead Ohio State football writer for Bleacher Report. 
Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.


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