Ohio State hit the practice field on Wednesday for day two of spring practice. Following the practice, offensive coordinator and tight end coach Kevin Wilson met with the media to discuss what he has seen from the offense thus far.
Wilson, who head coach Ryan Day has said will share some of the play-calling duties, will have a plethora of weapons at his disposal this season as quarterback Justin Fields enters year two as a starting quarterback with perhaps the most talented group of receivers the program has ever seen.
The running back position, however, is a much less known commodity for the Buckeyes as 2,000-yard back J.K. Dobbins heads off to the NFL.
What’s left is a relatively shallow pool of candidates to replace an all-timer such as Dobbins, and that pool may have taken a major blow with speculation of presumed starter Master Teague III suffering a significant lower leg injury on Monday.
No official announcement has come from the program regarding his long-term outlook, but Teague, who ran for 789 yards as a redshirt freshman last season, has already been ruled out for the remainder of the spring after just one practice.
With sophomore Marcus Crowley, whose arm is currently in a sling, already out for spring practice, Ohio State has been relegated to entertaining any and all options to give out reps behind redshirt freshman Steele Chambers, who figures to be the biggest beneficiary of Teague’s absence.
“The deal is we don’t need to over-rep Steele,” Wilson said on Tuesday. “Marcus is coming back off his injury, Xavier Johnson has been back there playing. We’ll end up having three of four (backs) by the time (Miyan Williams) comes back and guys are healthy.”
Wilson said guys like redshirt junior tight end Mitch Rossi, who has played in the backfield in his career, and fifth-year senior Demario McCall, who came to Ohio State as a running back, but has been working with the receivers this offseason, are both candidates to factor in at running back in the meantime. He said both are guys he’s wanted to develop packages for in the past, but those packages have never materialized for various reasons.
While Ohio State as a program is steadfast in not discussing the nature of injuries, Wilson appeared to at least be optimistic that Teague could return before the start of the season.
“I would think so, but time will tell,” Wilson said when asked if he thought Teague would be ready in the fall.
Wilson said that regardless of when Teague is back and healthy, there will be a hurdle to overcome in not having been able to practice and participate in workouts, which could hinder his development as a guy who is still fairly inexperienced.
Among the bigger surprises from Monday’s opening practice was sophomore Garrett Wilson’s move to the slot receiver position. Asked about the decision, Wilson said he believes receivers coach Brian Hartline feels the presence of Chris Olave, Jaylen Harris, and incoming freshmen Julian Fleming and Gee Scott Jr. allows for Garrett to be more dynamic playing inside.
Kevin Wilson went on to say the matchups slot receivers can find themselves in, oftentimes against a slower linebacker or safety, can mean big things for Garrett Wilson, who showed the ability to pick up big yards after the catch last season. Kevin Wilson also mentioned freshman Jaxon Smith-Njigba as another guy who has flashed early in the slot.
Kevin Wilson cautioned, however, that it remains to be seen if the freshmen will continue to hold up through their first set of spring practices and on into their first preseason camp. If not, Garrett Wilson may still find himself back outside, opposite Chris Olave.