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Starters are Beginning to Emerge for Ohio State
By Patrick Murphy

COLUMBUS – At Ohio State, you have to earn your starting spot.

“Sam Hubbard’s going to earn a starting spot,” Urban Meyer said on Monday. “We’re going to make that call to his family here pretty soon.”

Hubbard, who played in 13 games for the Buckeyes a year ago, registering 28 tackles and 6.5 sacks, was the perceived heir apparent to Joey Bosa at defensive end, but he had to prove it this fall to be officially named a starter.

“Game ready is a term and I used a green marker,” Meyer explained. “When we put a check next to your name that means you’re a go.”

The Scarlet and Gray have three returning starters on each side of the ball. Meyer previously named left tackle Jamarco Jones a starter and now Hubbard officially joins that group.

In just over a week, Meyer will need to have his depth chart filled out.

“This is that week that we start making those phone calls about, ‘Hey Mom and Dad, get ready to make some trips because your son’s starting at Ohio State,’” Meyer said.

While Meyer needs a bit more time on some players to make those phone calls, there are plenty of players who are close.

Quarterback is set with J.T. Barrett atop the depth chart, but the backup role remains up for grabs. While redshirt freshman Joe Burrow was the No. 2 coming out of the spring, true freshman Dwayne Haskins is pushing him hard. Meyer said neither player is where they need to be yet, but he’s happy with their abilities.

The running back position lacks depth after the departure of Bri’onte Dunn, but redshirt freshman Mike Weber continues to show promise.

“Mike Weber has kind of separated himself,” Meyer said. “If he continues, I hope we can make a phone call later this week to call home and tell them he’s the starting tailback at Ohio State. Not yet though.”

At wide receiver, Noah Brown, Curtis Samuel, Corey Smith and Dontre Wilson will be factors as expected. Meyer also said he doesn’t know how Parris Campbell doesn’t start and Terry McLaurin’s had a really good camp.

True freshman Austin Mack and redshirt freshman K.J. Hill are “in the mix,” while second-year player Torrance Gibson has been bugged by a hamstring injury that caused him to miss 10 practices.

The offensive line is fairly set with Pat Elflein, Billy Price and Jones all ready to start and sophomore Isaiah Prince and true freshman Michael Jordan leading the pack at right tackle and left guard respectively.

The issue for Meyer is depth on the offensive line.

At tight end, where OSU is expecting more production this season, junior Marcus Baugh is the top dog. Meyer said redshirt freshman A.J. Alexander dealt with a minor ankle sprain, but is fighting through it.

Tyquan Lewis begins his second season as a starter at defensive end opposite Hubbard. Jalyn Holmes continues to push the issue as the backup at either position. Meyer said the staff continues to be very smart with freshman Nick Bosa as he recovers from ACL surgery, but he will be in the mix as well.

The interior of the defensive line is currently juniors Tracy Sprinkle and Michael Hill, but Meyer said they are being pushed hard by redshirt freshmen Dre’Mont Jones and Davon Hamilton.

Raekwon McMillan returns as the starting middle linebacker for OSU, but the two spots around him were vacated following 2015. Meyer said Dante Booker’s parents will get a call if he has another good day at Will linebacker, similar for Chris Worley on the other side.

“Safety, Malik Hooker and Damon Webb right now are starters,” Meyer said. “I haven’t made the call yet. They’re running with the ones I should say, not starters.”

While Gareon Conley has one cornerback spot locked down, three guys are fighting for the starting position opposite him. Meyer said the Buckeyes would likely play more than one of Denzel Ward, Marshon Lattimore and Damon Arnette.

While nothing is set in stone for Ohio State, the picture is becoming clear. That picture will continue to be painted over the next two weeks before the Buckeyes open the season on Sept. 3 against Bowling Green.

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