Ohio State Football: Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

Sep 3, 2016; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer before the game against the Bowling Green Falcons at Ohio Stadium. Ohio State won the game 77-10. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 3, 2016; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer before the game against the Bowling Green Falcons at Ohio Stadium. Ohio State won the game 77-10. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports /

Ohio State would have one too many players on scholarship if the season were to start today. There will be at least one player leaving the Buckeyes soon.

Four players have left the Ohio State football program since the season ended and now the number of scholarship players is down to 86.  At least one more player will be leaving the program before fall camp begins for the Buckeyes to get down to the roster limit. The spring practices going on now will determine which player(s) that will be.

It has been mentioned that coach Urban Meyer isn’t exactly thrilled with the progress of some of the players in the 2015 recruiting class. For that reason, along with the fact that many transfers occur prior to a player’s third year in a program, it’s likely there will be another player or two leaving from the class. 

Three players from the 2015 recruiting class have transferred recently, and another left early because of a medical issue. Let’s look at the positions where a player may feel buried on the depth chart and decide to leave Ohio State to look for playing time elsewhere.

I will mention the players’ names from the 2015 class who are in the units I think are most likely to lose a player, but in most cases, not my take on which players I think will leave. I do have my own opinions on certain guys who may be moving on, but only the players and coaches know their individual situations. I’ll just lay things out and see what you think.

First, let’s look at the offensive line situation.

With an inordinate number of Ohio State offensive linemen transferring after last season ended (three), you wouldn’t think another would leave, but it could happen. It’s still a loaded group with talented freshmen coming in.

Each of the linemen in the 2015 class could be starters or solidify a backup position. But just as easily, at least two could be out of the mix for the 2017 season, with talented young players nipping at their heels. The third year guys are Isaiah Prince, Matthew Burrell and Kevin Feder.

The backup quarterback situation will be one of the most interesting battles throughout the rest of the spring. Joe Burrow had a fine redshirt freshman season and Dwayne Haskins tore it up in the bowl practices.

It’s a shame someone has to lose this battle. Will that player stay or look for someplace else to play?

Why are there five tight ends on the Ohio State roster when it’s rare that the ball is thrown to two of them in the same season. Why the overkill at the position? A.J. Alexander will have to battle three highly rated tight ends from the 2016 class for playing time.

Urban Meyer lost three more defensive backs to the NFL after last season, so he brought in a half-dozen more studs. Three will be ready to play immediately and possibly another. Third year guys include Denzel Ward (will start), Damon Arnette (may start) and Joshua Norwood.

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The linebacker position may be the cruelest of all. In my many years of following college football, I have seen many linebackers with a ton of promise get injured early in their careers, and then get buried in the depth chart as a result.

Justin Hilliard and Nick Conner looked as though they would be stars at Ohio State. Now, going into their third season, they are still trying to make their mark but have several young talented players battling for the jobs themselves.

Hilliard has been working with the second string defense in spring practice, but I haven’t heard much about Conner lately. I think it’s safe to say Jerome Baker is staying for next season, but he will probably be leaving afterwards to the NFL.

There may be another situation where a player leaves Ohio State. Possibly a player about to enter his second season who isn’t happy with his situation, or a fourth year player who feels the same way.

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The problem with the latter is, he is running out of eligibility and will have to play for an FCS school if he doesn’t want to sit out for one season. However it plays out, Ohio State will be down to the scholarship limit in time for fall practices. Good luck to any player who moves on, we wish you only the best.