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If the Buckeyes Played a Game Today, Who Would Be Starting?
By Tony Gerdeman

One of the usual questions asked of football coaches in every camp is, "If you had to play a game today, who would be starting?" That question has been asked of Ohio State coaches already, and while not all of them have answered, we still have a pretty good idea of who would be trotting out there at the moment.

The Buckeyes have just gone past the mid-way point of camp, so keep in mind that things can -- and will -- change. For now, however, what follows is a good indication of what the "ones" look like currently. We'll go through the positions one by one.

Quarterback

This is J.T. Barrett and it has always been J.T. Barrett. He has earned nothing but raves from the new coaches and the old coaches this spring. Joe Burrow is the backup.

Running Back

Mike Weber has taken another step forward and has created quite a bit of separation between himself and everyone else. Demario McCall and J.K. Dobbins are battling to back him up, and Antonio Williams may get in there when he finally gets done with his hamstring issue.

H-Back

Parris Campbell has been the best receiver in camp, and his backup K.J. Hill has been one of the two or three best himself. Don't be surprised if they'd both walk out for the first snap, but for now this would be Campbell up initially.

Wide Receivers

The other receiver that Meyer keeps talking about is Terry McLaurin. He has put him right up there with Campbell and Hill as the team's three best receivers right now. Opposite McLaurin is a tough one, but I'll go with Austin Mack right now at the 'X'.

Tight End

Meyer called this the most improved group on the team. With Marcus Baugh out right now recovering from shoulder surgery, the young guys have all made moves. A.J. Alexander would get the nod here with Baugh out and he would be backed up by Luke Farrell at the moment.

Offensive Line

Demetrius Knox continues to run with the ones at right guard, though he is getting pushed by Matt Burrell. If there was a game tomorrow, however, the offensive line should look like this: LT - Jamarco Jones, LG - Michael Jordan, C - Billy Price, RG - Demetrius Knox, RT - Isaiah Prince.

Defensive Ends

I don't know if you've heard, but the Buckeyes return all four of their "starting" defensive ends. On the first play, however, they'd have Sam Hubbard and Tyquan Lewis out there. Lewis was the Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year last year and yet it was Hubbard that Meyer called "the definition of elite." Nick Bosa and Jalyn Holmes would probably only have to wait two plays before seeing the field, however.

Defensive Tackles

Dre'Mont Jones continues to impress, so he would be the starter even with a healthy Tracy Sprinkle here I believe. Michael Hill and Rob Landers have been the most active nose tackles, especially now with Davon Hamilton out. If the game tomorrow was the season opener against the Hoosiers, I wouldn't be surprised to see three defensive ends up front with Jones.

Linebackers

This one is pretty easy, and not just because there are so many linebackers injured right now. Chris Worley at Mike, Jerome Baker at Will, and Dante Booker at Sam has been the layout since this winter. Meyer said on Tuesday that Malik Harrison will push Booker in the fall.

Cornerbacks

Kerry Coombs chastised the media last week for not calling Denzel Ward a returning starter. I'm not going to put three names here because we're just looking for the guys out there on the first play. Right now that's Ward and Damon Arnette. Kendall Sheffield, Shaun Wade, Jeffrey Okudah, Rodjay Burns, and Marcus Williamson are all fighting to be the third and fourth men in that rotation.

Safeties

This is looking more and more like a rotation as well, but for the first snap, you can expect to see Damon Webb at free safety and Erick Smith at strong safety. A few plays later, however, and it may be Fuller at free while Webb sits, then Fuller moves to strong while Smith sits, then Smith goes to free to give Webb a rest, and so on and so forth.

Kicker

There isn't really any competition for Sean Nuernberger right now, which makes him the kicker by default. Meyer didn't exactly give him a ringing endorsement on Tuesday. Freshman Blake Haubeil will be on campus this summer to contend for the spot.

Punter

Drue Chrisman would be the guy, assuming the Buckeyes are even going to punt this year.

Long Snapper

Liam McCullough had a great year last year as a redshirt freshman. He'll be draft eligible after this season, and we've seen a handful of redshirt sophomore Buckeyes leave early the last couple of years, so this will be another one to watch.

Punt Returner

While the Buckeyes are working out a number of returners this spring, Kerry Coombs said last week that "if there was a game today", it would be Demario McCall returning punts.

Kick Returner

Coombs is expecting a huge year on kickoff returns from Parris Campbell. He's the guy here right now and there is no close second.

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