The 11 most impactful offseason moves for Ohio State football

The Columbus Dispatch It’s been an eventful offseason for Ohio State football. Over a span of six months, it lost its veteran offensive coordinator, saw its star quarterback leave for the NFL and supplemented its roster with its largest-ever class of transfers. Below is a ranking of the developments most likely to impact the Buckeyes in the upcoming season and beyond. 11. Keenan Bailey becomes new tight ends coach An up-and-coming assistant who had been on the support staff since 2016, Bailey took over former offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson’s responsibilities coaching tight ends. The Buckeyes’ use of 12 personnel groupings, packages with two tight ends, makes it important for him to keep developing options behind Cade Stover on the depth chart. 10. Ohio State signs top-five recruiting class The top-five-ranked recruiting class the Buckeyes signed in December was headlined by the receivers. Three of the four-highest rated prospects were wideouts, led by five-star Brandon Inniss who enrolled this summer and Carnell Tate who shined in spring practice. Though Ohio State is stacked at receiver, they’re likely to be backups at least right away. 9. Buckeyes add offensive line depth While they struck out on a handful of targets in the winter transfer window, the Buckeyes found a tackle in the spring in Josh Simmons, who was San Diego State’s starting right tackle last fall. Simmons should be in the mix to start at right tackle with Zen Michalski and Tegra Tshabola and also offers upside with three seasons of eligibility left. 8. Tony Alford keeps running back room intact Ohio State avoided attrition at running back with Miyan Williams returning for a fourth season and other underclassmen rebuffing the allure of the transfer portal. Although it could make distributing carries a more challenging balancing act for Alford, the veteran running backs coach, it’s a good problem to have for the Buckeyes as injuries took their toll on the position last season. Five scholarship backs afford them plenty of depth and options to build a rotation. 7. Kyle McCord and Devin Brown stay It’s become a challenge for teams to maintain depth at quarterback due to the NCAA’s relaxed transfer rules, so it’s notable neither McCord nor Brown was tempted by the portal when spring practice ended in April without a clear frontrunner in the high-profile position battle. Both vowed to continue competing. The continuity leading into preseason training camp gives the staff a better shot at settling on a starter behind center. 6. Kevin Wilson leaves for Tulsa Wilson coordinated the Buckeyes’ offense for six seasons before finding his second shot at a head-coaching job. While he did not call plays, a role that has been handled by Day, he held a prominent role in game planning during a period of offensive explosion at Ohio State. Three of the five highest-scoring seasons in the program’s history involved Wilson as the offensive coordinator. His departure drained some of the brain power within the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. 5. Brian Hartline takes over as offensive coordinator The rapid rise for Hartline continued in January when the wide receivers coach added offensive coordinator to his title to replace Wilson. As he steps into the role, he’s someone who is well-versed in Day’s offense, a level of familiarity that could leave Day comfortable delegating more play-calling responsibilities. It would be the first time for Hartline, who became a full-time position coach only in 2019, to call plays, making him a bit inexperienced, but he’s had little issues handling other learning curves in his career. 4. Tommy Eichenberg returns for fifth season The presence of Eichenberg, a tough-nosed, swarming middle linebacker who totaled 120 tackles in a breakout season last fall, is among the reasons the Buckeyes’ defense could take another leap forward in its second year coordinated by Jim Knowles. Eichenberg should be among the preseason candidates for the Butkus Award as the top linebacker in the nation and makes his biggest impact defending the run, bottling up running backs. His decision to stay in school was the most draft decision benefiting Ohio State this offseason. 3. Luke Wypler and Paris Johnson enter NFL draft The biggest holes on Ohio State’s roster remain on its offensive line, which lost three out of its five starters from last season. While Johnson’s departure was anticipated, long viewed as a high-end selection in the first round, Wypler caught the staff by surprise in going pro and complicated offensive line coach Justin Frye’s rebuild. Experience at center is razor thin with Carson Hinzman, a redshirt freshman who only enrolled last summer, left as the apparent frontrunner to succeed Wypler as the line’s anchor at the end of spring practice. 2. Buckeyes strengthen secondary through the transfer portal The Achilles’ heel of Ohio State’s defense last year was its secondary, which was responsible for a majority of the big, back-breaking plays given up in consecutive losses to Michigan and Georgia at the end of the season. The pickups of safety Ja’Had Carter and cornerback Davison Igbinosun out of the transfer portal should prove significant as a result. Carter was a three-year starter at Syracuse with a lot of experience in slot coverage, someone who could take over for Tanner McCalister as the nickel corner if he beats out Cameron Martinez. Igbinosun made a splash at Mississippi, stepping up as a starter and becoming a freshman All-American, and should at least be in a rotation with Denzel Burke and Jordan Hancock. 1. C.J. Stroud enters NFL draft While Stroud’s declaration in January was no surprise, it was drawn out into the 11th hour. He waited until the last day underclassmen were eligible to file paperwork for early entry into the draft, tantalizing fans with the possibility of him remaining in school. It was a bit of false hope, but the mere prospect was something to ponder at least for a few winter nights. Consider too that nothing has reshaped the outlook more for the Buckeyes this fall than Stroud’s decision. Had he made the shocking decision to stay, Ohio State might be the preseason No. 1 team over Georgia, the two-time defending national champions. Instead, it has a significant question mark at quarterback and will be lower than the top spot in the preseason polls.

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