Ohio State Football: Updating the 5 Best Spring Football BattlesApril 4, 2012
Ohio State Football: Updating the 5 Best Spring Football Battles
Urban Meyer's first spring camp is finally underway as the Buckeyes begin to rebuild themselves after a very difficult 2011 season.
The early reports out of spring training say that the tempo of practice has been drastically elevated and the competitiveness is higher than normal, both of which are going to be important for the Buckeyes going forward.
There have been plenty of good battles early on as well as other interesting storylines in just the first few days of spring ball.
Here is a look at the biggest battles in the early stages of spring ball.
The situation at defensive end for Ohio State doesn't look quite as flashy in the spring without Nathan Williams, as well as freshman Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington coming to campus in the fall.
But right now, the battle to be high atop the depth chart going into the fall is pretty intense, as Adam Bellamy and John Simon currently stand at the top.
Steve Miller could also find his way into the rotation, but Bellamy has been the guy that Meyer has gone to opposite of Simon in the early going of spring ball.
C.J. Barnett and Orhian Johnson have been the starters at safety for Ohio State to start each of the past two seasons.
This year, Christian Bryant, who had been everything from the "star" position to nickel corner, has been running alongside Barnett on the first team at free safety in base sets.
Johnson has drawn some criticism for his play last season, and Bryant is in higher favor amongst Buckeye fans.
Whether or not the move is permanent is up to Bryant, because he has been given a chance to step into the spotlight.
The middle linebacker position seemed like a battle between returning starters Etienne Sabino and Storm Klein.
But Urban Meyer surprised everyone by not only putting second-year LB Curtis Grant, a consensus five-star recruit in 2011, as the starter in the middle, but said that the fate of the defense would rest on his play.
Sabino is lined up on the outside as of right now with freshman stud Ryan Shazier as Meyer is looking to build depth at the position before freshmen David Perkins and Camren Williams enroll in the fall.
Grant didn't get much playing time as a freshman, so he will have quite a lot of growing to do in the spring and into the fall.
The initial first-team offensive line to start spring ball is almost a shuffled version of the one that took the field last season.
Starting LG Jack Mewhort and (replacement for Mike Adams) LT Andrew Norwell have flip-flopped with Mewhort now guarding Braxton Miller's blindside.
Corey Linsley started as the center with Marcus Hall at RG and converted TE Reid Fragel, who has grown into his new position very well by most reports, was the first-team RT.
Freshman Taylor Decker could also find his way into the rotation as Meyer and new OL coach Ed Warriner are making some early steps to try to rebuild an Ohio State offensive line that has not been very good in years past.
It's no secret that the wide receiver position last year was underwhelming to say the least for the Buckeyes.
That's why the battle between Devin Smith, Evan Spencer and Corey Brown for the top receiver spot is so intriguing.
No Buckeye receiver had more than 14 catches a year ago, though part of that may be due to the unbalanced OSU offense that saw much more runs than passes.
The battle these players have is not so much with themselves, but fighting against the stigma that the receivers themselves were the problem last year and not the hyper-conservative playcalling of a year ago.
The early results are mostly inconclusive as not much info about the passing game has been made public yet. But there is little doubt that OSU's new uptempo offense should produce better results, especially through the air.
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