Now that Ohio State has signed its 2013 recruiting class, I wanted to take a look at the existing depth chart and speculate as to how the new members of the team will impact Ohio State in 2013 and beyond. Below is a ranking of the various units, from least affected to most affected, of the incoming freshmen.
9. Quarterback: J.T. Barrett was the lone quarterback signed with this class, and enrolled early at Ohio State. Barrett will participate in Ohio State's spring football practices, but will not be exposed to contact as he continues to rehab a knee injury sustained during his senior season. With the return of starter Braxton Miller, as well as backups Kenny Guiton, Jr. and Cardale Jones, it seems likely that Barrett will redshirt in 2013 and be more in the mix for the 2014 season.
8. Returners/Special Teams Units: With the addition of speedy players such as Jalin Marshall, James Clark, Dontre Wilson, Gareon Conley, Ezekiel Elliott, and Corey Smith, it is entirely possible that Ohio State could have any of these players handling kickoff and/or punt returner duties in 2013. Such a determination would probably be made closer to the season, which is why I have listed this area low in terms of impact at this time.
7. Running Backs: Ezekiel Elliott was an early commitment in April 2012, and then contemplated a switch to Missouri late in the recruiting process, ultimately signing with the Buckeyes. Elliott should play as a true freshman, but how much? With Carlos Hyde, Jordan Hall, Bri'onte Dunn, and Warren Ball all returning, the challenge for the Ohio State coaching staff will be determining how to allocate carries to everyone.
6. Offensive Line: Tim Gardner and Evan Lisle were the two offensive linemen signed. It has been speculated that Donovan Munger could eventually move over from the defensive line in time.
Ohio State returns starters Jack Mewhort, Andrew Norwell, Corey Linsley, and Marcus Hall. Taylor Decker is probably the front-runner for the right offensive tackle position recently vacated by Reid Fragel.
Ohio State also returns Darryl Baldwin, Jacoby Boren, Tommy Brown, Kyle Dodson, Pat Elflein, Chase Farris, and Antonio Underwood along the offensive line, but depth along the offensive line is a major concern for the coaching staff, with Coach Meyer referring to offensive line being "1A, 1B, and 1C" the focus for 2014. Gardner and Lisle could work their way into the depth chart, and possibly playing time, with strong performances during the summer camp of 2013.
Part 2 will focus upon the top five position groups impacted by the 2013 recruiting class, heading into spring football as well as the 2013 season.