Buckeyes begin fall camp full of position battles

A new chapter is set to begin in Columbus. 

Ohio State opened its first of 25 preseason Thursday and figures to monitor several position battles, notably at starting quarterback among junior Kyle McCord and sophomore Devin Brown. 

Head coach Ryan Day is no stranger to quarterback competition. This season marks the second in three years and third in Day’s five-year tenure that the Buckeyes will compete to determine the Week 1 starter. 

“Those guys have to believe in the quarterback,” Day said. “That’s a huge part of it. It starts in the weight room — you guys have heard me talk about that before with Mick (Marotti). The guys see the work that’s put in. They see the leadership, the ability to stand up in front of a group of guys and project and talk to them and lead them. Those all matter.” 

The Buckeyes also hope to see three players step into starting roles along the offensive line. Former starting offensive tackles Paris Johnson Jr. and Dawand Jones as well as center Luke Wypler began their NFL careers, leaving Ohio State with three positions to fill. 

Defensively, Ohio State expects to fine tune and address areas that plagued it during games that mattered most under second-year defensive coordinator Jim Knowles. 

Knowles and the Buckeyes may flash the hybrid linebacker “Jack” position more in 2023. It’s a position Day said will require time and patience when it comes to its complexity. 

“If we think that the Jack will give us something — we have like three or four guys that we think will be really good at the Jack position — we’ll do that,” Day said. “It’s certainly a package that brings a lot of confusion to the defense and it’s a little bit different in terms of the fits so it gives us something but at the same time we want to make sure it’s the right mix.” 

Knowles, who returns for a second season as Ohio State defensive coordinator, will be tasked with mixing and matching a largely familiar returning group on defense. 

Ohio State saw three defensive backs transfer into the program when Ja’Had Carter, Davison Igbinosun and Lorenzo Styles Jr. opted to become Buckeyes. Former Ole Miss defensive tackle Tywone Malone also transferred, and he will add another lineman up front behind his 6-foot-4, 315-pound frame. 

At this point in fall camp, it is still early. Day said McCord and Brown will continue to split reps and the Buckeyes will chart virtually everything in camp as they work toward the start of the college football season. 

“I think you just try to mix it up,” Knowles said. “Really at this stage you’re just trying to place guys so that they can maximize the reps, and you’re not really experimenting as much as you’re seeing how players react when things start moving quickly.”