As it turns out, Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers were right – the wait for the Ohio State depth chart was the hardest part.
Ohio State released its two-deep for Saturday’s season opener vs. Buffalo this afternoon, with not many surprises found. Traditionally, the depth chart is part of Monday’s media notes release, but the Buckeyes waited an extra day just to get in one good day of practice Monday and to let some injury situations clear up before Tuesday’s posting.
Offensively, the biggest surprise among starters might be that senior Chris Fields is listed as the No. 1 “H” with Jordan Hall at running back. Fields’ name didn’t pop up much this fall, but he was anointed as a possible starter by head coach Urban Meyer during spring and will get the No. 1 chance to play at the hybrid spot Saturday in front of freshmen Dontre Wilson and Jalin Marshall after receiving praise at Monday’s press conference from offensive coordinator Tom Herman.
The other wideouts have last year’s top two receivers, senior Corey Brown and junior Devin Smith, listed as co-starters at “X” with Evan Spencer the No. 1 “Z.” Michael Thomas and James Clark are the top two backups.
How Ohio State deploys its offensive personnel will be interesting to watch given the fact OSU has three solid starters at wideout, two good tight ends, viable options at "H" and will also usually utilize at least one running back.
At running back, Hall is listed as the starter in front of sophomore Brionte Dunn and redshirt freshman Warren Ball, with the coaching staff noting yesterday that Wilson and fellow true freshman Ezekiel Elliott will also get some touches.
As expected, the offensive line has sophomore Taylor Decker as the starting right tackle, with the backups, from left to right, listed as Darryl Baldwin, Chase Farris, Jacoby Boren, Pat Elflein and Kyle Dodson/Tommy Brown.
And of course, Braxton Miller is the No. 1 QB, while Jeff Heuerman gets the nod ahead of Nick Vannett at tight end.
Defensively, Adolphus Washington and Noah Spence – two players who received praise from Meyer this afternoon on the Big Ten teleconference – will start at end. Michael Bennett – another player Meyer is happy with – will start alongside Joel Hale at tackle, with Tommy Schutt the No. 1 reserve. The backup ends are Joey Bosa/Rashad Frazier behind Washington and Jamal Marcus or Steve Miller behind Spence at “Viper.”
Answering some key questions at backup linebacker, true freshman Trey Johnson is Ryan Shazier’s top backup at Will, walk-on Joe Burger and five-star freshman Mike Mitchell will be behind Curtis Grant at Mike, and Camren Williams backs up Joshua Perry at Will.
True freshmen Gareon Conley, Eli Apple and Cam Burrows are backup cornerbacks behind Armani Reeves and Doran Grant at corner, while Tyvis Powell will start at nickel with Vonn Bell behind him. Ron Tanner and Corey Brown are backup safeties behind Christian Bryant and C.J. Barnett, respectively.
Freshman Cameron Johnston is the No. 1 punter, while George Makridis and Bryce Haynes will again split time at long snapper. Philly Brown and Hall will return punts, while Hall and Wilson are listed as kick returners.
Twelve true freshmen are in the depth chart, including Wilson, Marshall, Clark, Bosa, Hill, Mitchell, Johnson, Conley, Burrows, Apple, Bell and Johnston.