Dear Fans… as you gear up for another exciting fall, see below for the ABC’s of Ohio State Football in 2021!
A – Alabama: The Crimson Tide are current kings of college football. Saban’s bunch handled Ohio State in last year’s national title game, and remain the measuring stick. Can Ohio State close the gap this year?
B – Biletnikoff: The award presented annually to the nation’s top wide receiver. The Buckeyes haven’t had a winner since Terry Glenn (1995), but have two prime candidates this year in Chris Olave and Garret Wilson.
C – Cameron Brown: We know Sevyn Banks will start at one cornerback spot, and Brown is expected to line up on the opposite side assuming full health. He tore his Achilles last fall at Penn State and is the only other corner with decent experience.
D – Demario McCall: The sixth-year journeyman, who spent five years as a backup/hybrid option for the offense, is now switching to defense for his final campaign. He could see some legitimate snaps as the year progresses… in addition to contributing as a kick returner once again.
E – Emeka Egbuka: The highest-rated wideout (and top-10 player overall) from the 2021 recruiting class has arrived. But, the Washington native is also part of a loaded position group. How much time will he see and what might he do with those snaps? Look for him out of the slot.
F – Favorites: Ohio State is once again a heavy favorite to win the Big Ten at -200. Wisconsin (+600), Penn State (+900) and Iowa (+100) are considered the toughest challengers in Vegas.
G – Gene Smith: He is 65 years old but hasn’t shown many signs of retirement just yet. Smith has been athletic director since 2005 and just recently signed a four-year extension in May, putting him under contract through 2026. He will make more than $2 million annually.
H – Hartline: One of the hottest young names in the coaching profession, Brian Hartline enters his fifth season with the program and is attracting every big-named receiver in the recruiting process. How long until Hartline takes a promotion… either in Columbus or elsewhere?
I – I: It will be dotted again this year with the return of " The Best Damn Band In The Land.” The group was not able to play at home events last fall, but did roll out for the spring game in April. #HangOnSloopy
J – Jack, J.T., Javonte and Jerron: None might be projected starters, but all of these powerful defensive linemen can play a role in the trenches. Throw Jackson (Antwaun) in there if you want!
K – Kayvon Thibodeaux: The Buckeyes’ terrific offensive line will have its hands full with Oregon’s star defensive end come September 11 in Columbus. He will be the best edge prospect Ohio State has seen in some time, and could end up being the top pick in the next NFL Draft. If the Ducks pull off an upset, Thibodeaux would be at the center of it.
L – Letter of Intent: Ohio State currently has 14 commits in the class of 2022 recruiting cycle. How many will end up officially signing with the Buckeyes later this year? Wide receiver Caleb Burton (Austin, Texas) currently spearheads the group of commits.
M – Masks: Per university policies, masks are currently required for all indoor spaces on campus. This will include various spots in/around the Horseshoe on game days; Skull Session, stadium elevators, restrooms, press box, Huntington Club, etc.
N – Name, Image, Likeness: We are seeing a new dynamic with the NCAA ruling that college athletes are now able to profit off themselves. Many Buckeyes are already cashing in as expected. It will be interesting to see how college programs adapt moving forward, considering there is no real precedent. Which places will handle it well? Will it become an issue at others?
O – Opponents: Minnesota, Oregon, Tulsa, Akron, Rutgers, Maryland, Indiana, Penn State, Nebraska, Purdue, Michigan State, Michigan. With the Ducks and Nittany Lions coming to Columbus, the October 23 road game in Bloomington looks to be the toughest test (at the moment).
P – Placekicking/Punting: A pair of new starters will be in action following the graduation of multi-year starters Blake Haubeil and Drue Chrisman. Grad transfer Noah Ruggles (North Carolina) is expected to handle the kicking while Australian Jesse Mirco should handle the punting.
Q – Quarterback Depth: C.J. Stroud is the starter and should be just fine, but how will things shape up behind him? Kyle McCord appears to be the second option, although Jack Miller III and Quinn Ewers are in town. How long until someone transfers?
R – Rivalry Returns: After an unfortunate one-year pause, “The Game” with Michigan is back. The Buckeyes haven’t lost this matchup in a decade and probably feel some type of way about the Wolverines cancelling last year due to COVID. But, as we know, this showdown always has the ability to get weird.
S – Spencer Rattler: The Oklahoma quarterback is the preseason favorite (+450) to win the Heisman Trophy. C.J. Stroud is among the listed favorites, although a Buckeye hasn’t won the award since Troy Smith in 2006. Seems like a long time for such a powerhouse program.
T – Teradja Mitchell: Now a senior, the Virginia Beach product has spent three years waiting in the wings behind a group of veteran linebackers. He is now primed for a starting role after contributing nicely on special teams during his early seasons.
U – Up Front: The offensive line has shifted around and tinkered with combinations since the end of last season. At the moment, it seems like Nicholas Petit-Frere, Thayer Munford, Harry Miller, Paris Johnson Jr. and Dawand Jones will be the five. But guys like Luke Wypler, Matthew Jones and heralded recruit Donovan Jackson provide all the flexibility in the world.
V – Vaccine: The university recently issued a mandate for all employees and students, although roughly 90% of the football team is already vaccinated. Fans won’t have to be vaccinated to attend a game, however.
W – Week to Week: It can be tempting for Ohio State, expected to be sizeable favorites in most games, to look ahead on the schedule. But Ryan Day and his staff do a commendable job of operating one week at a time. That will be critical once again for the Buckeyes, who have traditionally had at least one regular-season scare.
X – Xavier Johnson: Perhaps the forgotten/overlooked member of the wide receiving group. A former walk-on and Cincinnati native, this versatile athlete has played multiple positions (running back, wideout, cornerback, special teams) and would shine for most other schools in the country.
Y – Young Bucks: This freshmen class is the best to ever be signed, on paper. How many will end up making a realistic impact this fall? TreVeyon Henderson in the backfield, a few wideouts, Sawyer and Tuimoloau on the D-Line, and a few defensive backs (Denzel Burke, Jakailin Johnson) are the likely candidates.
Z – Zone 6: As mentioned above, Ohio State will feature arguably the best wide receivers in the country; Olave, Wilson, Egbuka, Julian Fleming, Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Marvin Harrison Jr. Keep your eyes peeled every time a pass is thrown.
Now you know your ABC’s… Enjoy the season!
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