Ohio State Football: Spring Practice Position Battles Tracker

Ian Berg@@ShugJordanPkwyCorrespondent IMarch 7, 2013

Ohio State Football: Spring Practice Position Battles Tracker

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    Ohio State is riding high after an undefeated 2012 campaign, with Urban Meyer opening his Big Ten coaching career in unbelievable fashion. He is looking to make a run for the crystal ball this fall, and for that to happen these spring position battles have to find a solution.

    Last season, the Buckeyes finished with in the top ten at 12-0, but this team missed a shot at the postseason and the Big Ten title because of NCAA sanctions.

    Those restrictions are gone this fall, and the team is on its way to a national title drive starting this spring.

    The spring game is set for Saturday, April 13 at 1 p.m. ET, but before it kicks off, this will be your guide to the news and developments out of Columbus.

    Note: This slideshow will be updated with the latest news, position battles, injuries and more.

Latest News

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    Update: April 8

    Urban Meyer opened Ohio State’s practice on Saturday to students and reports have the crowd in the 2,500 person range (via Cleveland.com).  

    There were food trucks and games set up for the students to have a fair-like feel, but the most memorable part of the day wasn’t the taco trucks or students kicking field goals—it was Brutus getting leveled by linebacker David Perkins.

    As a joke the Buckeyes set up in a shotgun formation and snapped the football to the famous Ohio State mascot. He took the ball left on a roll-out and got leveled by the Buckeyes sophomore linebacker.

    When asked about the hit, Perkins said “I read pass, and I took my drop. I saw the quarterback and I saw we lost contain, so I ran over to try to keep contain and just did my responsibility.”

    This was one of the funniest mascot related tackles I have ever witnessed. Catch the video here.

    Safety Christian Bryant made a great point about the incedent when asked to opine. He told the media “It brought a little bit of excitement and got the fans into it. They should have given him a black jersey if they didn't want him to get hit.”

    Black jersey’s indicate no-contact.

    Spring has been good to Noah Spence and the rest of the defensive line as they had multiple sacks during Saturdays scrimmage (h/t elevenwarriors.com), further easing concerns about the new defensive front.

    Curtis Grant is also finding his way at safety and should be a major role player for the defense this fall.

    There is a battle for backup running back going on that is full of talent and fierce competition. Rod Smith, Bri’onte Dunn and Warren Ball are all battling for the job.

    Urban Meyer likes the competition telling the media (h/t elevenwarriors.com) “I couldn’t tell you who our backup is right now. They’re battling pretty good.” It looks to be a by-committee approach to the backup role heading into summer. 

    Update: March 7

    The Buckeyes have finished their first day of spring practice, with a session of helmets and shorts coming on Tuesday.

    Outside linebacker Ryan Shazier is expected to be one of the best at his position in the country for 2013, but his road to playing time this spring is being hindered by a sports hernia suffered earlier in the spring (The Plain Dealer). There is no firm answer as to when he might return.

    Receiver Philly Brown also sat out with an injury.

    One interesting move, according to the report, was Jordan Hall switching from running back to the H-back position. Hall was redshirted last year, and is looking to have a breakout season.

    Getting Hall into the passing game as well as utilizing him as a runner will make him a dangerous threat in the Meyer offense. Expect him to progress a ton this spring and become a headliner this fall.

    Taylor Decker is the leader at the one vacant offensive line spot, but Chase Farris is also making a charge.

    J.T. Barrett was wearing an orange injury jersey, but it is a cautionary move after Barrett fell to an ACL injury during his senior season of high school.

    Check back for more info as spring progresses. 

Key Offensive Battles to Watch

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    Offensive Tackle

    Taylor Decker (So.) vs. Chase Farris (RS So.)

    The right offensive tackle position is the only spot along the offensive line that is up for grabs as the Buckeyes head into spring practice.

    Right now Taylor Decker is the front-runner for the position, but Chase Farris is also receiving some snaps at the position. Finding the final piece of this offensive line is crucial this spring.

    It has to be determined before summer.

    Projected Starter: Taylor Decker

    Actual Starter: TBD                                           


    Evan Spencer (Jr.) vs. Chris Fields (Sr.)

    The Buckeyes struggled to find consistency at receiver last year, but heading into the new year they are expected to have a wealth of new talent that can make an immediate impact.

    The Meyer offense typically uses a third receiver, and when it does, there are two players that should battle for the position. Evan Spencer and Chris Fields are the two players making a push entering spring.

    At this point, Spencer appears to be the leading candidate for the job.

    Projected Starter: Evan Spencer

    Actual Starter: TBD

Key Defensive Battles to Watch

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    Defensive Tackle

    Tommy Schutt (So.) vs. Joel Hale (Jr.)

    The Buckeyes are looking for a solid replacement on the interior defensive line with the departure of Johnathan Hankins to the NFL. Adolphus Washington is embedded at one spot, but Tommy Schutt and Joel Hale are battling for the other.

    Spring practices will be big factors in determining which player comes out on top in this competition.

    Projected Starter: Tommy Schutt

    Actual Starter: TBD

    Middle Linebacker

    Curtis Grant (Jr.) vs. Camren Williams (So.)

    The Buckeyes struggled to find consistency in the inside linebacking corps last year, and heading into next season, there is still no clear-cut answer. Curtis Grant is expected to be the leader at the position, but during spring he will be challenged by Camren Williams.

    If neither is able to run away with the position, expect incoming freshmen Michael Mitchell and Trey Johnson to get solid looks this summer and fall.

    Projected Starter: Curtis Grant

    Actual Starter: TBD

Early Enrollee Spring Grades

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    Eli Apple, CB, 6’1”, 185 lbs (4-star)

    Eli Apple is a very talented corner prospect that is capable of becoming a spot player this fall. He has a tremendous ability to play cover and zone, and should transition well this spring.

    Expect Apple to enter the summer as a contributor.

    Post Spring Grade: TBD

    Cameron Burrows, CB, 6’0”, 195 lbs (4-star)

    Cameron Burroughs is as athletically gifted as a player can be at the cornerback position.

    He is also a player that has the body to transition into the safety spot if needed.

    This is one of the more skilled pickups in the secondary for Urban Meyer and his staff, and it will be one of the players that should be able to crack the rotation this fall.

    Post Spring Grade: TBD

    J.T. Barrett, QB, 6’2”, 205 lbs (4-star)

    J.T. Barrett is the prototypical player for Urban Meyer. He is a mobile quarterback with a live arm and a ton of potential.

    Barrett started spring in an orange jersey because of an ACL injury he suffered his senior year, but that could change by the end of camp. He should head into the fall expecting a redshirt year.

    Post Spring Grade: TBD

    Tyquan Lewis, WDE, 6’4”, 227 lbs (4-star)

    Lewis is a rangy defensive end that is a burner off of the edge. He has the potential to be a major playmaker in the future for the Buckeyes, but with the talent coming back at defensive end it will be tough for his raw style to crack the lineup.

    Expect a year as a redshirt to refine his skills.

    Post Spring Grade: TBD

    Tracy Sprinkle, DE, 6’4”, 250 lbs (3-star)

    Tracy Sprinkle is a huge defensive end that is coming to campus this spring.

    The Buckeyes are solid at defensive end, but Sprinkle’s size has him as someone that will be noticed early.

    He may not be highly rated, but his athleticism is something to watch.

    Post Spring Grades: TBD

Sleepers to Watch

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    J.T. Moore, Defensive End

    The defensive line is reloading at nearly every position but there is a lot of talent expected to be with J.T. Moore on the outside.

    The 6’3”, 262 pound defender is not a burner off the edge, but his ability to stop the run on the outside should earn him some solid time this fall.

    Expect that preparation to begin this spring, and for Moore to be one of the breakout players for the Buckeyes.

    Jordan Hall, H-Back

    Jordan Hall was a rising star last year in three appearances, but he fell to an injury that ended his season.

    Heading into the new year he was expected to be a backup running back, but instead he became the starting H-back on the opening day of spring.

    Put the spotlight on Hall as spring unfolds—he will be a player to watch.