Spring practice for the Ohio State Buckeyes will commence on March 6, as Urban Meyer and his assistant coaches will begin fine-tuning the talented roster that remains in Columbus, Ohio, in preparation for the 2018 season. Even with 11 players invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, Ohio State returns a roster that is among the best in all of college football.
Below are five players who have recently signed with Ohio State, or were redshirted during the 2017 season. All five of these players may be able to move up significantly on the Ohio State depth chart, and could be among the players whom Buckeyes fans will come to know during the 2018 season and beyond.
Antwuan Jackson, DT
Heavily recruited by Ohio State in 2016, Jackson signed with Auburn, where he eventually redshirted. Denied an opportunity to transfer to Ohio State by Auburn, Jackson went to Blinn Junior College in Texas, where he emerged as the nation's No. 2-ranked JUCO defensive tackle. Even with a talented defensive line featuring ends Nick Bosa and Chase Young, Jackson should work his way into coach Larry Johnson’s rotation.
Tate Martell, QB
Martell signed with Ohio State in 2017, but was redshirted for the 2017 season. Martell earned high praise for his performance running the scout team offenses during the 2017 season, and also for his competitive nature from Urban Meyer and multiple Ohio State players. Undefeated (43-0) in high school as a starting quarterback, national player of the year by three outlets (Gatorade, MaxPreps and USA Today) in 2016, Martell has Buckeye fans wondering how he may fit into a quarterback depth chart lacking J.T. Barrett for the first time since the 2014 season.
Jeremy Ruckert, TE
Arguably the nation's top-ranked tight end recruit, Ruckert will have ample opportunity to move into the tight end rotation that will be missing Marcus Baugh, who is moving onto a possible NFL career. "I think Jeremy Ruckert might be the best tight end prospect that I've ever seen and recruited," Meyer stated in December. "His skill set is ridiculous." Ruckert is not an early enrollee, but will compete against returnees Rashod Berry, Luke Farrell and Jake Hausmann.
Nicholas Petit-Frere, OT
A five-star recruit, Petit-Frere is the consensus top-ranked offensive tackle prospect among ESPN, Rivals and 247Sports. While not considered a starter heading into 2018, Petit-Frere's lofty ranking and impressive highlight films will make him a likely candidate for considerable playing time as a true freshman, with an eye towards earning a starting position by 2019, if not sooner.
Matthew Jones, C
A center? Before dismissing this, remember that Ohio State will be replacing Billy Price at center. While Brady Taylor and Matthew Burrell may get the first opportunities to replace Price as the starter, Jones was the top-ranked center coming out of high school in 2017, and is an early enrollee.& Even if he does not emerge as the starter at center this fall, it will not be surprising if he gets substantial playing time as he's groomed to take over the pivot in 2019.