Countdown To THE GAME 2015

Friday, March 20, 2015

2015 Ohio State Spring Football Questions: Who Will Emerge At Right Offensive Tackle?

On March 10th, Ohio State began spring practice, and had fifteen spring football practices available before the conclusion of spring practice on April 18th in Ohio Stadium. Over the next few weeks, I will rank the top ten questions facing Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer and his coaching staff as the Buckeyes retake the football field after concluding the 2014 season as the national champions.

These articles will be submitted from areas of lowest concern to highest concern. While Ohio State returns the overwhelming majority of its 2014 team, and welcomes in a highly-touted recruiting class, it will be important for Coach Meyer to convey to his team that complacency within the player ranks could derail any hopes of the Buckeyes repeating as national champions in 2015.

Two practices in, with the week of March 15th-March 22nd off as the players can enjoy the Ohio State spring break period. After March 22nd, Ohio State has thirteen remaining practices, including the April 18th spring game, to evaluate where the football program stands before fall camp begins.

Up until this point in the series, my questions and focus has been upon emerging players at backup positions, a clear testament to Ohio State’s depth across the board. From here on out, these questions will focus upon position areas where Ohio State has lost a player(s) to graduation or eligibility, which is why I have ranked these position groups higher in terms of importance.

5. Right Offensive Tackle

Key Players/Contributors Lost: Darryl Baldwin (eligibility); Kyle Dodson (injury); Antonio Underwood (eligibility)

Key Players/Contributors Returning: Chase Farris (Redshirt Senior), Jamarco Jones (Sophomore), Marcelys Jones (Sophomore), Evan Lisle (Redshirt Sophomore), Brady Taylor (Redshirt Freshman), Kyle Trout (Redshirt Freshman), Grant Schmidt (Freshman).

What a difference a year makes. At the conclusion of spring practice in 2014, I had major concerns about the Ohio State offensive line, having replaced four starters. Unfortunately, my concerns were legitimized when Ohio State lost to Virginia Tech in the second game of the 2014 season, casting major questions about Ohio State being able to rally from the loss and still qualify for the College Football Playoff. (I won’t bore you with the rest, because I know you are still basking in the glow of the events of January 12, 2015).

From left to right, Ohio State returns starters in Taylor Decker, Billy Price, Jacoby Boren, and Pat Elflein. The lone starting position that is up for grabs is at right offensive tackle, which has been vacated with the departure of Darryl Baldwin.

Baldwin was a converted defensive lineman who earned the starting right offensive tackle position last fall. It would not be surprising to see Baldwin selected in the later rounds of the upcoming NFL Draft, especially after Ohio State’s offensive line was the primary reason for the dominant offensive performances by the Buckeyes down the stretch run of the season.

With one spot open, and so many players waiting in the wings, how will this all shake out?

After the first two practices, Chase Farris was getting the starting nod at the right offensive tackle spot. Like Baldwin, Farris has been converted from defensive line, and has battled for a starting position along the offensive line over the last three seasons.

The position will not be won without a fight. Jamarco Jones, a heavily recruited offensive lineman from the 2014 recruiting class, has been mentioned as a possible contender. It is entirely possible that this battle will go on beyond spring practice, and into fall camp.

While Ohio State has an abundance of talent in the wings, and even more reinforcements arriving this summer with recruits from the 2015 class, a word of caution to Ohio State fans. While there are players on the depth chart, and reinforcements on the way with the 2015 recruiting class set to arrive this summer, keep in mind that Ohio State’s offensive line will undergo a metamorphosis next spring in 2016 similar to the beginning of the 2014 season, with multiple starters departing. It will be in the coaching staff’s best interests to play as many offensive linemen as possible during the 2015 season to avoid starting out 2016 like Ohio State did versus Virginia Tech in 2014.

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