With national signing day in the books, the next big date on the Ohio State calendar as it continues working toward an encore for an undefeated season in 2013 is spring practice. Before those workouts begin, BuckeyeNation will take a look at each position to see where the roster is at — and where it’s going.
INTERIOR OFFENSIVE LINEMEN
- Who’s back: The central nervous system of the offense returns completely intact, starting with the anchor who will be looking to build off a banner year in the middle of everything. Corey Linsley’s transition to center went perhaps more smoothly than anybody at Ohio State could have expected, and in addition to limiting himself to a handful of errant snaps, his ability to handle the mental load was critical for an attack that wants to push the tempo. With both guards returning on either side of him with Marcus Hall and Andrew Norwell also trying to take their games to a higher level, the Buckeyes are loaded in important spots up front and capable of putting up even more points than they did in Urban Meyer’s first year with the program.
- New face: Jacoby Boren isn’t new to the rotation after backing up Linsley at center last fall and his name is certainly familiar to the Buckeyes given the success of his older brothers, so he doesn’t really qualify as a fresh face. But in his second season with the program, Ohio State will still be monitoring his development both as insurance for Linsley in the short term and to make sure he’s ready to handle the load on a full-time basis down the road. The only two linemen the Buckeyes signed in 2013, Evan Lisle and Tim Gardner, won’t be practicing with the team until August.
- Projected spring depth chart: Heading into the 15 workouts starting in March, the two-deep roster figures to look almost exactly like it did in November when the Buckeyes closed out the perfect season with a win over Michigan. Linsley will solidify the line at center with Norwell on his left and Hall on his right, with Boren snapping for the second-team group with Antonio Underwood and Chase Farris likely backing up at the guard spots.
- Numbers game: In case anybody had forgot, Meyer offered no shortage of reminders that he would be aggressive with his offense on the field. And with a physical, hard-blocking group of linemen capable of consistently winning battles up front when it needed to pick up a couple yards, he showed no hesitation to roll the dice on fourth down and wound up finishing No. 1 in the country last fall in terms of conversion percentage. The Buckeyes shared the top spot with Clemson, picking up first downs on their last chance nearly 78 percent of the time — one season removed from posting a mark of just 50 percent.
Continue reading this article: Spring forward: Guards, center analysis