Five veteran Buckeyes entering 'make-or-break' summer workouts

Spencer Holbrook05/17/21
Master Teague by Birm-Lettermen Row
Ohio State running back Master Teague is competing for the starting spot. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

COLUMBUS — Ohio State thrives on its development of talent.

The Buckeyes recruit some of the best athletes from every corner of the country. And they certainly will play younger players if they are ready to play.

But the program’s Developed Here mantra isn’t just a tagline for Twitter graphics and recruiting pitches. Ohio State is best when its veterans are developed into stars. That’s the expectations coming out of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, especially as the summer workout program kicks into high gear.

“We don’t have a choice,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said near the end of spring practice. “I tell the guys all the time: We have to [meet those expectations], whatever that means. It’s the desperation we have to wake up with every day. As a coaching staff, players, I tell the guys every day that I wake up scared. People want what we have.

“The expectation has been set, we know that. It was the same expectation when I was fortunate enough to be the head coach a couple years ago and the expectation won’t change in 20 years here at Ohio State. We’re expected to be the best, and with that comes great responsibility. So, we’ll wake up every day and just grind. I keep using the word obsessed. Our players have to become obsessed with maximizing themselves — in the weight room, watching film, getting themselves prepared to play against Minnesota.”

Of course, some veterans take longer to develop than others. And the Buckeyes have plenty of experienced players who have been in the program for a long time waiting to break out — or be passed up for younger rising stars.

Lettermen Row is breaking down five veteran Buckeyes who face a make-or-break summer workout program over the next couple of months.

Teradja Mitchell-Ohio State-Ohio State football-Buckeyes

Teradja Mitchell could finally break out as a star of the Ohio State defense. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

LB Teradja Mitchell

Teradja Mitchell has been waiting his turn. The rising senior was stuck behind the talented group of linebackers who have now moved onto the NFL for three seasons. Now he can finally have his shot to burst onto the scene for the Buckeyes. Mitchell, a former top-50 prospect in the country, has always been knows as a hard-hitting middle linebacker. He still has room to improve as he gears up for his opportunity in a starting role. This summer will be the first offseason of his collegiate career without Pete Werner, Tuf Borland, Justin Hilliard and Baron Browning, making the path to playing time seem easy for Mitchell. But he still will need to have an impressive offseason to truly be on the path to stardom for the Silver Bullets defense.

RB Master Teague

Master Teague broke out as the backup for J.K. Dobbins during the 2019 run to the College Football Playoff. Teague finished that season with the seventh-most rushing yards in the Big Ten. Last season opened with Teague in the starting job before Trey Sermon took over and became the featured back in the high-powered Buckeyes offense. Teague is the incumbent entering the offseason, but he isn’t the starter. Ohio State has six capable running backs on the roster, including five-star back TreVeyon Henderson. All are hoping to secure the starting tailback job. Although he has the most experience of any back in the running back room, Teague doesn’t have the starting job locked up. And he’ll need an impressive summer to keep pace in the battle to reach the top of the depth chart.

DB Marcus Williamson

Ohio State struggled last season in the secondary, and it will have a revamped back end this fall. Marcus Williamson was on the field for some of the issues a year ago, and he’s hoping to be a part of the solution to those issues, as well. Williamson has fought through plenty of adversity during his four-year Buckeyes career. And he is still trying to break out in the otherwise young Ohio State secondary. The fifth-year senior used his extra year of eligibility from the NCAA to return for one final shot at being a star for the Ohio State defense. With young talented players such as Lathan Ransom and Cameron Martinez pushing for playing time, that won’t be easy for Williamson. This summer is crucial in the fight for a role before his time at Ohio State is up.

Matthew Jones-Ohio State-Ohio State football-Buckeyes

Matthew Jones filled in on the Ohio State offensive line against Michigan State last season. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

OG Matthew Jones

Matthew Jones arrived at Ohio State as the top center in the country from the class of 2018. But the Buckeyes have been loaded at the position since Jones arrived. Jones has the skills to play both guard spots and inside at center, but he hasn’t been able to break through or find a starting job on the offensive line. Now with two openings up front, Jones has a chance to break out and finally claim a starting job, one he filled in for at times and excelled at last year. Between Jones, Luke Wypler, Harry Miller, Josh Fryar and Paris Johnson, Ohio State has three openings inside and five talented options. With a strong offseason, Matthew Jones may be able to finally capture a starting spot during his fourth season in the program.

DT Taron Vincent

The former five-star prospect has been expecting a breakout season for the last two years. Taron Vincent seemed on the verge of a special year in 2019 before a shoulder injury sidelined him entirely. He dealt with injuries last season, as well as the odd nature of the year, and didn’t have a chance to shine. Now entering his fourth season in the program, Vincent has a clear path to playing time, and he could be one of the stars of the defensive front. Coach Ryan Day said Vincent was among the most improved players on the team this spring. Vincent will have to prove that this fall.