This is assuming that Miller doesn’t transfer, which is a big assumption at this point, but even if all three signal callers return to Ohio State, the job is Jones’ to lose. The junior-to-be just led the Buckeyes to three straight postseason wins including a national championship and didn’t forgo the NFL draft to be the backup. Most importantly, Jones will be the only one healthy enough to participate fully in spring football, giving him even more of an inside track. Assuming Miller’s shoulder is healthy enough to throw he'll likely get playing time, while Barrett proved a worthy starter himself this season. The Buckeyes have an embarrassment of riches at this position and it will be the most-watched offseason battle in college football.
With the departure of do-everything receiver Evan Spencer, the only non-offensive lineman to start on offense every game for Ohio State in 2015, and deep-threat Devin Smith, wide receiver looks like the thinnest offseason position for the 2015 Buckeyes in terms of on-field experience. Thomas led the team in receptions and was second in yards in 2014, making him a no-brainer for one of the starting spots. Corey Smith, who made key plays on special teams and had a 76 receiving yards receiving in the national championship, makes the most sense to get the other starting nod. The backup roles are murkier. Johnnie Dixon last played against Kent State before his season ended because of knee issues. James Clark played in three games as a true freshman in 2013, but broke his ankle and was forced to redshirt. He’s also dealt with a torn labrum and a hamstring injury cost him the 2014 season. Despite injuries, he is the best bet for one of the backup roles at receiver, though there are some youngsters who will get the chance to shine in spring. The fate of Noah Brown, who likely earned some time with his blocking skills while playing the H-back spot, will also be fun to watch.
Both of these players started at times in 2014 with Marshall taking over duties after Wilson suffered a broken foot Nov. 8 against Michigan State. These two will likely be listed as co-starters by Ohio State, but after excelling with more playing time, expect Marshall to get more of the reps, though Wilson will certainly see time.
With the departure of 2014 starter Jeff Heuerman, this spot clearly belongs to Vannett. As a junior backing up the oft-injured Heuerman, Vannett had 19 receptions for 220 yards and five touchdowns, with one of the scores coming in the national title game. All of Vannett’s numbers were actually better than Heuerman’s. The backup duties will almost certainly fall to Baugh, a player whose talent drew the attention of Urban Meyer throughout the season. The 6-4, 252 pound sophomore-to-be should get a decent number of snaps relieving Vannett.
- Ezekiel Elliott
- Curtis Samuel
Expect the running back position to look exactly as it did in 2014. After a dominating stretch in the second half of the season, Elliott is the clear cut starter and will enter the season as one of the favorites for the Heisman Trophy. Samuel, who was effective in limited reps (he gained 383 yards on 58 carries with six touchdowns), will be the clear No. 2 option.
Ohio State returns its best offensive linemen from the 2014 season in Decker, a player who will likely be named a captain next season. Farris was listed as a backup at multiple positions on the offensive line last season and will likely be the first lineman off the bench again in 2015.
- Billy Price
- Demetrius Knox
Price started every game in 2014 as a redshirt freshman and earned freshman All-American honors for his efforts. The left guard spot is all his again in 2015. Knox was listed as one of two backups at left guard as a true freshman in 2014 and will likely have that spot to himself next season.
- Jacoby Boren
- Pat Elflein
The center position is another one that should look exactly the same in 2015 as it did in 2014. Boren is tough as nails and is the clear starter as a senior. Elflein will continue to be the backup here while also starting alongside Boren on the line.
There is no reason to think this spot will change in 2015 as Elflein was solid for the Buckeyes all year in 2014. Farris shows his versatility by also being the backup here.
- Jamarco Jones
- Evan Lisle
The only question mark along the offensive line comes at right tackle as Darryl Baldwin is the only 2014 starter that won’t be back next season. This spot could go to the more experienced Farris, but he is built more like a guard and the bet is on the immense talent of the 2014 four-star prospect in Jones. As a true freshman Jones was the first tackle to enter the game in blowouts, trusted enough to replace Decker before the Buckeyes even pulled their starting quarterback multiple times. After missing time with injury, the talented Lisle should compete for the backup role.