The well-oiled machine down in Columbus keeps churning along as Ohio State has reloaded once again.
Perhaps the most stacked roster in college football, what the Buckeyes lack in experience, they more than compensate with talent. However, for the first time since Desert Storm, J.T. Barrett is no longer at the helm.
Urban Meyer has proven he can win with virtually any quarterback at Ohio State, and 2018 will be another test of this principle. When Michigan enters Columbus for “The Game” in late November, these will be the Buckeyes to keep an eye on.
QB — Dwayne Haskins
Presuming Haskins is in fact the starter, his arm could prove to be the X-factor of the Buckeyes’ entire season. He is mobile, but unlike Barrett he is more comfortable throwing the ball as he demonstrated in injury relief for Barrett against Michigan last season.
Although young, Haskins proved he is unafraid of big moments and will take chances. Week to week, this could prove dangerous for the Buckeyes, but with the plethora of talent surrounding Haskins he won’t have to gamble often.
RB — J.K. Dobbins
J.K. Dobbins might be the best “second-best returning sophomore” in conference history. It’s very rare to see a true freshman rush for 1,400 yards and NOT be the leading true freshman running back in the conference.
The bruising Dobbins essentially split carries with Barrett last season and with his departure, and Mike Weber’s occasional fumble-itis, expect Dobbins to see around 1,700 yards this season.
Dobbins is a physical runner, with excellent lateral quickness and vision who is rarely brought down by the first tackler. A dark horse Heisman candidate, Michigan should expect a heavy dose of Dobbins throughout the entire game.
H-Back — Parris Campbell
Arguably the fastest player in the Big Ten, no player will run more drag/pick routes this season than Parris Campbell. Why? Because any time he gets the ball with separation, he is a threat to score.
Ohio State will strive to get him around 10 touches a game and stretch teams horizontally across the field. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Meyer draw plays like this up for Campbell (0:00, 2:20, 3:50, 5:25):
Campbell is a home run threat athlete and if he is ever unaccounted for, you’ll find him in the endzone.
OT — Isaiah Prince
The most invaluable Buckeye in 2018 is left tackle Isaiah Prince. He was solid last season at right tackle, but with the departure of Jamarco Jones, Prince must fill the void and protect Haskins’ blindside.
At 6-foot-7, 310 pounds, Prince fits the mold for the position, and his battles with Chase Winovich and Rashan Gary could be the premiere matchup in “The Game” this season.
DE — Nick Bosa
Any other team that lost players like Sam Hubbard, Jalyn Holmes, and Tyquan Lewis would be in shambles rebuilding their pass rush. The Buckeyes simply grab whatever four and five star corpses they have laying around the sidelines and put them next to Nick Bosa. 2018’s defensive line could be better than last year’s and Nick Bosa could be the best pass rusher in the country.
Nick Bosa is going to feast on whatever Michigan tackle is in front of him, and it is up to the Wolverines to negate his rush with deception. There is a reason Bosa is No. 1 across several 2019 NFL Draft big boards.
Bosa’s combination of size, speed, bend and exceptional hand use make him nearly unblockable at the college level.