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.
- Who’s back: The Buckeyes were never truly at full strength in the backfield last fall thanks to season-long injury concerns for Jordan Hall and a brief stint on the shelf for Carlos Hyde, though the offense hardly missed a beat with a high-powered rushing attack that ranked among the best in the country. Braxton Miller was a big part of that equation, but after Hyde came back from his minor knee issue, he developed into the perfect complement for the elusive quarterback by plowing through tacklers with his size and racking up extra yardage with his deceptive speed. Both Hyde and Hall are back at the top of the depth chart, joined by talented but inconsistent backup Rod Smith, rising sophomore Bri’onte Dunn and redshirt freshman Warren Ball to form a deep pool of options for the spread attack.
- New face: The Buckeyes won’t have fresh bodies to add to the mix in time for spring practice, but two ESPN 150 selection — tailback Ezekiel Elliott and dynamic athlete Dontre Wilson — will give them even more flexibility heading into the fall.
- Projected spring depth chart: Hyde established himself as the top threat at running back, and he’ll have the edge over Hall. Smith should lead the charge behind those two, with Dunn pushing for touches and Ball looking for a chance to impress after a foot injury forced him to sit out last season.
- Numbers game: Every player who carried the football on the way to a perfect record returns except two — one of them switched to linebacker in the middle of the season, the other was a punter. No offense to Zach Boren and Ben Buchanan, but the rushing attack is going to be just fine without them. The Buckeyes certainly won’t be short on experience with a combined 547 carries from last season alone coming back to rush behind an offensive line that returns four starters, putting them in position to climb even higher in the national rankings after finishing No. 10 in rushing offense in 2012.
Continue reading this article: Spring forward: Running backs breakdown