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Five for Friday: Spring Goals for the Ohio State Buckeyes
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS — Coaches and players set a number of goals prior to the opening of every spring camp, and chief among them for Urban Meyer is for a depth chart to be solidified. This doesn't always happen, and even when it does it is not locked in stone, but it's still part of Meyer's action plan.

That's a particular goal that is set every year, but the other goals shift and alter depending upon the team. The 2015 team may be coming off of a national title, but that doesn't mean anything when it comes to preparing for the season ahead. Goals are still going to be set, and players and coaches are still going to be judged on whether or not those goals were met.

Spring is a time for renewal everywhere, including the football field. There are new goals being set for this Buckeye team, so let's take a look at a few of the possibilities.

1. Cardale Jones leaves the spring the way he left the 2014 season.
It is pretty amazing that in just three career starts, Cardale Jones has pretty much eliminated any doubts that he is not just a legitimate starter, but a legitimate Heisman candidate as well. This spring he is going to have an incredible advantage over "fellow starters" J.T. Barrett and Braxton Miller because he's going to be the only one healthy enough to participate fully. While he is doing this, however, Urban Meyer and new QB coach Tim Beck will want to make sure he looks as good at the end of spring as he did back in January. Normally, proven starters can be given a bit of a break during the spring, but with all of the injuries and Jones still just having three starts under his belt, he may be in line for a large number of snaps this spring. That's good for his development, provided he makes the most of his opportunity.

2. Definitively find a right tackle.
The need to find a right tackle is a familiar story throughout Urban Meyer's first four seasons at Ohio State, and so far he and Ed Warinner have gone a perfect three for three in that regard. In 2012 they tabbed Reid Fragel for the spot, then in 2013 it was Taylor Decker. Last season they went with Darryl Baldwin, and there were plenty of people outside of the program who never thought that would happen. But it did happen and Baldwin was arguably the Buckeyes' most consistent offensive lineman. The top two candidates for the job this season are senior Chase Farris and sophomore Jamarco Jones. Even though they have rotated the right tackle spot in spring and fall camp in the past, the guy who starts out with the ones in the spring has been the guy who ends up winning the job. Farris is a veteran who has been the sixth offensive lineman, able to be called upon no matter who has to leave the field. He may be more of a guard than a tackle, but if Warinner likes him, you should as well. If Jones doesn't end up starting at right tackle this season, there is every expectation that he will be starting at a tackle spot in 2016.

3. Be wowed by the redshirt freshmen receivers.
After his very first spring practice way back in 2012, Urban Meyer said that nobody at receiver wowed him. He said you generally want at least two players to wow you, and at Ohio State that number should probably be three. He may have those wow players now, but he and receivers coach Zach Smith will both be working toward getting a few wows from redshirt freshman receivers Johnnie Dixon, Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin. Devin Smith is a big loss in terms of making plays downfield, so if they can find another playmaker or two from the guys who redshirted in 2014, the loss of Smith can be lessened. This will be Dixon's second spring camp, and both Campbell and McLaurin went through fall camp back in August. Even though they aren't letter winners yet, they still know exactly what is being asked of them, and they know what to do. Exhibiting their athletic abilities with their football understanding should produce a wow or two from the coaches this spring. Or at least that's the plan.

4. Find backups for Vonn Bell and Tyvis Powell who can see the field.
With Ron Tanner apparently unable to continue playing, the Buckeyes will be looking for another backup safety this year. Cam Burrows backed up Vonn Bell last year and is likely to be in that spot again this spring. He had some difficulties last season and will need to show that those struggles are behind him. Sophomore Erick Smith will likely be backing up Tyvis Powell, and safeties coach Chris Ash loves his ability to find the ball in all environments. Ideally, Smith and Burrows would be able to rotate in a bit, especially after coming off of such a long season the year before. While it is unlikely, both Bell and Powell are draft eligible following the season. Even though Ash may not be thinking in these terms, it will be important to find guys who can play without much drop off from the starters.

Read more on Page 2
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