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Ohio State Buckeyes 2015 Spring Football Primer
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS — Your front yard might still be in the midst of winter, but spring has finally arrived in Columbus. Or at least spring football has arrived, anyway.

Tuesday morning marks the beginning of 15 spring football practices for the Buckeyes, which will then wrap up with the annual Spring Game on Saturday, April 18.

In case you would like to plan your wardrobe for the trek to Columbus a bit early, the current forecast for the Spring Game is 58 degrees with clouds and a possible shower. So get out there and get shopping for your scarlet parka. After all, the only way to guarantee good weather is to spend money in preparation for bad weather.

The Buckeyes will practice on Tuesday and Thursday this week and then take next week off for spring break. They will then be back at it on Tuesday March 24, continuing their Tuesday/Thursday practice schedule throughout most of the rest of spring. There are generally Saturday scrimmages scheduled as well.

In terms of media access, we will be allowed in for the first hour of Practices No. 1 and No. 4, and then all of practice on April 11, which is the yearly Student Appreciation Day.

Injury Updates
There will be a number of players who will not be participating — or will be limited in their participation — and we will find out more of these names once we actually get to see who is and isn't practicing.

For now, however, here are some names who likely won't be full go.

QB Braxton Miller (shoulder)
QB J.T. Barrett (ankle)
RB Ezekiel Elliott (wrist)
WR James Clark (hamstring)
WR Dontre Wilson (foot)
OL Demetrius Knox (foot)
LB Kyle Berger (knee)
P Cameron Johnston (knee)

There could also be more names to appear, such as players who were lost due to injury last season that we do not have updates on, like WR Johnnie Dixon, CB Marshon Lattimore, DT Joel Hale, etc.

Also, some established players will likely pop up with tweaks that keep them out because there's no reason to push them right now.

Roster Breakdown
There are currently 65 scholarship players on the roster, which includes four early enrollees. 

Freshmen: 17 (13 redshirt freshmen)
Sophomores: 24
Juniors: 12
Seniors: 12

There will be 23 more freshmen entering the fray this summer, which puts the Buckeyes at 88 scholarships, which is three over the NCAA limit of 85. Oversigning by three is allowed by the Big Ten provided there is an explanation of where those three scholarships are coming from.

We have been told that there won't be any surprises on the spring roster once it is released, other than a number change or two. So it would seem that at least three players participating in spring football won't be part of the Buckeyes this fall. That number is pretty standard, however.

Last year five Buckeyes (Frank Epitropoulos, Tommy Brown, Jamal Marcus, Jayme Thompson and J.T. Moore) either left the team to play somewhere else or gave up football altogether in the days and months following spring football.

Early Enrollees
The Buckeyes have four early enrollees participating in spring football this year: linebacker Nick Conner, offensive lineman Grant Schmidt, cornerback Jamel Dean and defensive end Jashon Cornell. Conner, Schmidt and Dean all dealt with injuries over the past few months, but nothing too drastic.

Conner suffered a knee injury during his high school season, but he is expected to be able to participate fully. Schmidt had a bit of a shoulder injury in January, but he should be fine. Dean was dealing with a meniscus injury in January, but if that's all he had, he should be good to go as well.

Old Faces, New Places
Defensive tackle-turned offensive lineman Joel Hale is expected to be back on the defensive line for the Buckeyes this spring. Hale started 11 of the team's 14 games at defensive tackle for Ohio State in 2013, so with the loss of Michael Bennett, Hale's return for a fifth season is welcome.

Position Battles
Quarterback: Cardale Jones won't face any starting competition as both J.T. Barrett and Braxton Miller continue their respective recoveries. That also means that redshirt freshman Stephen Collier is going to have a very busy spring.

Running Back: Curtis Samuel, Bri'onte Dunn and Warren Ball will all be battling for the most reps this spring as Ezekiel Elliott still has a cast on his wrist. Samuel is the clear favorite here based on his play last season. For Dunn and Ball, the same competition they have had with each other their entire career continues.

Wide Receiver: There are two starting jobs available with the departures of Evan Spencer and Devin Smith. Does Jalin Marshall move outside more? Does Corey Smith step up? Johnnie Dixon? Noah Brown (and no, he is not moving to tight end)?

Offensive Line: The right tackle competition will be the one to watch all spring. There are plenty of candidates: redshirt senior Chase Farris, sophomore Jamarco Jones, redshirt sophomore Evan Lisle, redshirt freshmen Kyle Trout and Brady Taylor, and even true freshman Grant Schmidt. The staff loves Chase Farris's tenacity and experience.

Defensive Line: There is an opening at nose tackle, which is where Joel Hale played in 2013. Does he step right in? Can Donovan Munger or Michael Hill or Tommy Schutt overtake him? There is also going to be a fun battle at defensive end opposite Joey Bosa. Jalyn Holmes, Darius Slade and Sam Hubbard were all part of the 2014 recruiting class, and each will get a good look. Keep an eye on redshirt sophomore Tyquan Lewis as well, however, because he played more than any of the other candidates last season.

Cornerback: There is one spot open and it will be fought between Gareon Conley, Damon Webb, Marshon Lattimore (perhaps), and Jamel Dean. It is always interesting to watch cornerbacks emerge at Ohio State, and that's exactly what needs to happen this spring for the Buckeyes.

Nickel Back: I might be on an island, but I think this would be a good spot for Damon Webb, but it's also an area that Cameron Burrows has played before. The staff also really likes sophomore Erick Smith, so will he be involved here as well? They may not even begin working on nickel packages until after Spring Break, so we may have to wait to find out the pecking order here.

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