- By Marcus Hartman Staff Writer
Ohio State kicked off spring football Tuesday morning, and the first question should have been of no surprise to anyone.
Here are seven things to know about the Buckeyes getting back on the field for the first time since beating USC in the Cotton Bowl.
1. Of course, the quarterbacks came up first.
With J.T. Barrett’s career over, coach Urban Meyer is going to have to choose a new starter.
Sophomore Dwayne Haskins and junior Joe Burrow split reps with the first team while redshirt freshman Tate Martell was also in the mix.
“This is going to be trying to do the best we can to make sure that we have equal opportunity to compete,” Meyer said.
2. NCAA rules could add a twist to the quarterback battle.
Meyer acknowledged the fact Burrow could graduate this spring, transfer and play immediately elsewhere is relevant to when and how the coach handles his decision.
“We try to be as transparent with you guys without getting too nose-deep into our meetings but the answer is probably yes,” Meyer said when asked if that would be a consideration, noting he would rather see them continue competing into the fall if one is not a clear winner in the spring.
“My first obligation is Ohio State. But not far below that is the player and the family. And so, yeah.”
3. Does Josh Myers have a new position?
A five-star recruit from Miamisburg who redshirted last season, Myers was seen working with the second team offensive line on the first day of spring drills.
The somewhat surprising part that the powerful guard prospect was playing center.
Meyer said he is in the mix at that position along with senior Brady Taylor, juniors Matt Burrell and Josh Alabi.
They are vying to replace Billy Price, who won the Rimington Trophy as the nation’s best center last season. Ohio State’s Pat Elflein took home the same honor a year earlier.
“I think I'm more stressed about center (than quarterback),” Meyer said. “I think when you have quality players going at it there's no stress at all. When you worry about who is going to be your center, that's my focus -- I think we'll be fine at quarterback. Who is it going to be? I don't know, but I know they work really hard and I see not two but three guys that think they should be the quarterback.
So I spend more time at the positions that -- I don't know who is going to be our center.”
4. Who is healthy?
Shoulder surgeries will sideline linebacker Dante Booker, offensive guard Michael Jordan, receiver K.J. Hill and cornerback Jeffrey Okudah for all of spring practice.
All four are expected to be ready to go when preseason camp rolls around. That includes Booker, who was the subject of a report last week he intends to graduate and transfer.
Meyer was not happy about that story being published, noting he first heard of it when Booker’s mother called him “nearly in tears” to ask about it.
“His plan is to be an Ohio State Buckeye,” Meyer said, “and I’d rather people leave him alone, let him go be an Ohio State Buckeye, work as hard as he can.”
5. What about the offensive line?
Brandon Bowen, who was the starting right guard until breaking his leg halfway through the season, is still working his way back, but Meyer was unclear about if he will be able to practice this spring.
With Price and starting left tackle Jamarco Jones having graduated plus Bowen and Jordan sidelined, the offensive line figures to have a lot of moving parts this spring.
On day one, the No. 1 unit consisted of (from left to right) Isaiah Prince, Malcoln Pridgeon, Taylor, Springfield native Demetrius Knox and Thayer Munford, Prince was the starting right tackle the last two seasons while Knox was the starting right guard last year after Bowen went down.
The second-team offensive line from left to right was Alabi, Burrell, Myers, Wyatt Davis and Kevin Woidke.
6. Who will lead?
Overall, this will be a pretty experienced team as only 16 letter-winners were lost from the 2017 Big Ten championship team that beat USC in the Cotton Bowl.
However, stalwart leaders Barrett, Price and defensive linemen Tyquan Lewis, Jalyn Holmes and Sam Hubbard are among those who are gone.
“When you leave this place better than when you came in, that's something else,” Meyer said.
“And I just see Josh Perry gets treated like he owns this place because he does. And Jalyn Holmes and Tyquan. Who else? Denzel Ward. Just see good people that have really built this program. J.T.'s obviously one of them.”
7. When is the spring game?
Ohio State fans can get a look at the 2018 for the first time April 14 when the Buckeyes hold their annual spring game.
Former Buckeyes Malcolm Jenkins and Ryan Shazier are scheduled to serve as honorary coaches for the game.
Jenkins is coming off winning his second Super Bowl ring, this one with the Eagles, while Shazier is on the mend after a scary spinal cord injury in Cincinnati last December left him unable to walk.