Ohio State football: Depth still lacking for 2 position groups

COLUMBUS -- Ohio State stopped publishing an official depth chart two years ago.

If the Buckeyes still had one, head coach Ryan Day indicated most of the names to fill it might already have been determined this spring.

But that does not tell the full story.

Some starters play every snap while others split time, the latter often determined as much by the quality of the backup as the player with the “1″ by his name.

How that might shake out by the time Notre Dame comes to town for the season opener in September is still being worked out over the last two weeks of spring practice — and likely into the beginning of preseason camp.

“We’re kind of two-deep at most positions, and so that’s great,” Day said Monday. “But now’s a little bit too early to say, ‘Are we ready to put those guys in a game and just rotate them?’ Or is it this is the starter and then (the backup) kind of go in there and get some reps when appropriate?”

Day also identified two position groups that have yet to reach that point, and they are both important: Offensive line and wide receiver.

Both groups entered spring with plenty of known entities seemingly ready to step into starting roles, but the staff is still trying to figure out who will back them up.

“We do need to get more more depth on the offensive line that’s for sure,” Day said. “I feel pretty good about five or six guys, but we need to get to 7, 8, 9, which was a strength for us last couple years. Receiver is kind of the same thing. Who’s gonna be the top six or seven guys that we can count on in a game?”

Up front, center Luke Wypler and right tackle Dawand Jones are back while Paris Johnson Jr. is moving to left tackle after handling right guard last season. The two new starters — left guard Donovan Jackson and right guard Matt Jones — were not only the top two reserves last year but had enough confidence from the coaching staff to earn some snaps in games.

At receiver, Jaxon Smith-Njigba is back after rewriting the Ohio State record book last season while junior Julian Fleming could be poised for a breakout year and Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka showed great promise as true freshmen.

Then what?

“Every year we come in for that first meeting after the last game and those seniors are now gone,” Day said. “Some new guys have moved up front, and then everybody’s moved down a couple seats. And these seats right here are different than the ones when they were back there, you know? And I think learning what those roles are going to be as someone you can count on with leadership is all important.”

With three fifths of the spring over, Day said the goal for the next two weeks is to provide an opportunity for players to further differentiate themselves from who might play this fall and who might not be ready yet.

“There’s been a lot of guys who have had great opportunity to step up,” Day said. “I guess this is practice nine so we still have Wednesday (and) Friday this week and then we come back and have another week before we head into the spring game.

“So this is kind of where you find out where guys are in terms of they gonna start to separate themselves.”

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