Elite quarterbacks rarely stay in school any longer than they have to, so the coaching staff likely knew a year ago C.J. Stroud would enter the 2023 draft and they would have a quarterback decision to make in the offseason.
Junior Kyle McCord and redshirt freshman Devin Brown should hold a spirited battle as McCord has been the No. 2 behind Stroud for the past two seasons and Brown has generated some buzz in his season on the sidelines.
McCord is a five-star prospect with a strong arm while Brown is reputed to be more of a dual-threat.
This position was derailed by injuries last season, but draft-eligible Miyan Williams is returning along with TreVeyon Henderson, Evan Pryor and Dallan Hayden.
That means (assuming no one transfers after spring ball) a room loaded with talent is even more loaded with talent and experience for coach Tony Alford.
Chip Trayanum, who moved from linebacker to running back in the wake of injuries in the second half of the season, could also remain with this group or go back to defense.
Pryor missed the whole season with a preseason injury while Williams and Henderson were hobbled at the end, so this group could be primed for a big bounce back year.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba entered the draft, but Ohio State already knows what life is like without him since a hamstring injury limited him to only a handful of snaps last season.
Like Stroud, the lack of his presence on the roster in 2023 was also long assumed, as a bonus both Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka already have proven they can handle a full-time load of playing time and thrive.
Senior Julian Fleming got more playing time last season with S sidelined, and Jayden Ballard could be next in line for more playing time.
Receivers coach/new offensive coordinator Brian Hartline also has a seven first- or second-year players to evaluate and insert into the depth chart.
Cade Stover’s return for a fifth season might not qualify as a surprise, but it should be a major boost to the offense as a whole.
This is now a large, veteran group with a returning starter (Stover) and five more scholarship players at different stages of development so no one needs to be thrust into a role they aren’t ready for, but there should be good competition for playing time.
Paris Johnson Jr. chose to give up two years of eligibility while fellow tackle Dawand Jones passed on the opportunity to use an extra season after four years in Columbus.
With both having been among the best tackles in the nation the last two seasons, neither of those qualifies as a surprise, especially Johnson, a five-star recruit most assumed would be three-and-done when he signed in 2020.
Center Luke Wypler leaving after only three years in the program was unexpected, but so was senior guard Matt Jones announcing he will take advantage of a sixth year because of the pandemic.
Coach Justin Frye has a major rebuilding project, but the roster includes 16 scholarship players to work with.
He recruited only the four incoming freshmen so there could be a lot of changes in the depth chart this spring, particularly considering few of the current players are viewed as true tackles but several possess the ability to play inside or out.