The 2016 Ohio State football team took the field for the first time today as the Buckeyes began spring practice this morning.
With two new coaches on hand and 16 starters from last season’s Feista Bowl Champion roster gone, there's plenty of intrigue surrounding this year's bunch. The media was permitted to observe the first hour of practice today, and while there is plenty to be sorted out before the April 16 spring game and surely before the start of the 2016 season, there were some interesting aspects to practice No. 1.
Here's what we saw:
The most notable take away from the first practice was that two players -- sophomore Eric Glover-Williams and redshirt freshman Rashod Berry -- were working with different position groups than they were the last time they saw them.
Glover-Williams spent the hour of practice we were able to watch working with the safeties and new coach Greg Schiano. Wearing No. 19, he took the first rep in drills along with Malik Hooker and appears to be atop the depth chart at that position on day one as Erick Smith and Cam Burrows recover from injury.
The 5-9, 175-pound Canton native worked in at cornerback in spots last year, though his biggest impact was at special teams. It's no surprise that with the departure of last year's starting safeties and the injury concerns at the position that a corner would slide over to safety, though it was a bit of a surprise that the smaller Glover-Williams was the one to make the move. He is listed as a cornerback on the roster distributed by Ohio State prior to the practice.
Berry, meanwhile, did not see the field as a true freshman tight end and was working with the defensive line today. The staff was not shy about criticizing the freshmen tight ends last season and given that three highly ranked tight ends are coming in as members of the 2016 class, the move is not all together surprising. At 6-4, 245 pounds the move makes some sense for Berry, who wore No. 13 while working with the defense. He is still listed at tight end on Ohio State's roster.
The aforementioned Burrows and Smith were off to the side with a group of players clearly not ready to fully participate in drills, but were far from the only ones. Joining them on the side were defensive lineman Malik Barrow, defensive end Tyquan Lewis, H Curtis Samuel, receiver Noah Brown, offensive linemen Kevin Feder, linebacker Nick Conner and running back Bri'onte Dunn.
Lewis and Samuel are both recovering from minor surgeries that they underwent after the season while Barrow continues to work back from a torn ACL. Noah Brown broke his leg prior to the start of the 2016 season and Conner and Smith suffered serious knee injuries last season.
Of that group Conner and Smith appeared the closest to returning to drills as they did the most extensive running. Justin Hilliard and K.J. Hill were both participating in drills, but wore burnt orange jerseys, indicating some degree of injury. Hill's left hand was heavily wrapped.
In the day's first drills Torrance Gibson, Dontre Wilson and Marrshon Lattimore were working as punt returners.
Wilson appeared to be atop that pecking order, one that Samuel will surely factor into when healthy, but the three rotated freely.
The first set of defensive line drills, one that featured primarily interior guys and did not include edge rushers like Sam Hubbard, had Jayln Holmes, Michael Hill and Tracy Sprinkle going through the drill first followed by the trio of Donovan Munger, Robert Landers and Darius Slade. The final section of that group was comprised of Jashon Cornell, Davon Hamilton and Dre'Mont Jones.