Scarlet Sunrise: As Ohio State wraps spring, position battles still ongoing

On3 imageby:Andy Backstrom04/16/23

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As Ohio State wraps spring, position battles still ongoing

The Ohio State spring season is over. The Buckeyes’ position battles are not.

The spring game, which counted as the program’s 15th and final practice of the spring, took place Saturday in the Horseshoe, and it drew north of 75,000 fans on a sunny afternoon. In a Scarlet (offense) vs. Gray (defense) matinee, the Gray prevailed, 40-31. Of course, the performances of each unit and individual players mattered more than the score.

Most notably, junior quarterback Kyle McCord completed 18-of-34 passes for 184 yards and a touchdown. But he was sacked three times and could have had at least two interceptions on the day if the Buckeyes’ defense came down with its takeaway opportunities. It was an up-and-down outing for McCord, who often faced pressure behind a work-in-progress offensive line that’s replacing three starters this offseason, all of whom are future NFLers.

Both McCord and the O-Line were in the spotlight Saturday. McCord ended up taking all of the first-team reps, given that redshirt freshman Devin Brown was sidelined with a recent injury to a finger on his throwing hand. That said, McCord hasn’t won the job yet, and nothing is settled up front, either.

There are ongoing competitions elsewhere, too.

A crowded secondary continued to be the catalyst for back end improvement this spring, with the Buckeyes flashing significant strides against the pass in the spring game. Junior Denzel Burke shined, and he said postgame that Ole Miss transfer Davison Igbinosun has driven him and others to get better this offseason. Igbinosun is challenging for first-team cornerback reps, but, like Burke, fellow outside corner Jordan Hancock has bounced back from an injury-riddled 2022 with a nice spring.

The battle for playing time at safety is real as well. Sophomore Sonny Styles kept making his case for additional snaps Saturday, at one point nearly grabbing a middle-of-the-field interception and finishing with six total tackles.

Plus, the kicking battle — perhaps overlooked — was on display. Jayden Fielding, with the ones, pushed a 40-yard field goal wide right. Meanwhile, Parker Lewis, with the twos, drilled a 38-yarder.

Fifth-year head coach Ryan Day hasn’t announced starters yet. It appears as if the winners of those jobs won’t be determined until sometime in fall camp, or maybe even right before the regular season opener.

Top six moments from Buckeyes spring game

Like any spring game, Ohio State’s came with good and bad moments. But there were a handful of highlight-reel plays — on both sides of the ball.

Perhaps none brought a bigger smile to Buckeyes fans than Archie Griffin’s 25-yard touchdown run that gave the offense a much-needed spark. Yes, that Archie Griffin.

The Ohio State legend, a two-time Heisman Trophy finalist, was back on campus and recorded his first Buckeyes rushing touchdown in nearly half a century.

There were other breakaway scores Saturday, by current players of course, not to mention head-turning defensive stops.

For the top six moments from the intrasquad exhibition, go here.

Everything else you need to know from the spring game…

Ohio State receives two more commitments, keeps recruiting momentum going

The Buckeyes kept adding to their already-impressive 2024 class Saturday. They welcomed in two more prospects: Chattanooga (Tenn.) Baylor School four-star tight end Max LeBlanc and three-star Pickerington (Ohio) North running back Sam Williams-Dixon.

LeBlanc is the first Ohio State tight end commit since Keenan Bailey replaced former offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson as tight ends coach.

LeBlanc chose Ohio State over Michigan, North Carolina and Tennessee. Originally from Canada, the 6-foot-5, 225-pound prospect checks in at No. 276 overall and No. 16 at tight end, according to the On3 Industry Ranking.

Then there’s Williams-Dixon, who is Ohio State’s second running back commit this cycle. He picked the Buckeyes over Rutgers, Tennessee, Kentucky and Penn State. The local product is the No. 57 running back in the 2024 class, per On3.

To learn more about LeBlanc, head here. For Williams-Dixon, turn here.

The Buckeyes are still third nationally this cycle in the On3 Industry Ranking team recruiting rankings, but their score of 95.501 is inching closer to No. 2 Alabama’s 95.568.

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Counting down

Buckeyes vs. Indiana: 140 days

Buckeyes vs. Michigan: 224 days

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