Buckeye fans, the week we have been waiting for all summer has arrived. It is officially camp week. It is the time for all of the offseason hype to end and for the real work to start. Training camp is a grind, and those who embrace the pain and hardship of camp are the ones who usually flash and earn time on the field. There are several players on the fans, coaches, and teammates’ radars who are primed to flash and break out during this upcoming camp.
Jordan Hancock is one to watch out for. Multiple sources have indicated that Hancock is a “dude” and is ready to assert himself and earn time in the corner rotation. With experienced players like Denzel Burke and Cam Brown at the top of the depth chart, Jordan Hancock may perhaps be the most talented player in the defensive back room. If I had to make a bold prediction, I would say that Hancock will be the third corner in this defense and will contribute (think Denzel Ward in 2016) because he is THAT talented.
Mike Hall. Hall has been a name we have been hearing a lot since the winter and it is for good reason. He is a scrappy and mean defensive tackle on a team whose identity needs to be scrappy and mean. He has been a force during summer workouts and is very much in the mix for playing time. He seems like a player primed to make a big jump during camp as he is looking to build on an upward trajectory. He has the talent and the makeup to make a Robert Landers type of impact on the defensive line, which Ohio State would take every day of the week and twice on Saturdays.
Jayden Ballard. He is incredibly intriguing as he is the fastest receiver in the room with a unique ability to stretch a defense. He has some traits that are reminiscent of, dare I say, Devin Smith. He has a different gear from the 20 to 60-yard mark that anyone else on the roster. His ball skills were a bit inconsistent during the spring and he needed to work on his hands. However, he has been hitting the jugs machine and has worked to fine-tune elements of his game, which is what separates the elite players from the average players. If Ballard has a big camp, he will absolutely be in the six-deep rotation in a role where he can take the top off of the defense.
Reid Carrico. The linebacker room has been a topic of conversation all through the offseason, and seldom for the right reasons. There is a lot of skepticism regarding this room across the country, and no one is more aware of it than the players. It has been a MAJOR point of emphasis for Knowles (a linebacker coach by trade) to get the room ready to elevate their game. Carrico is an underrated athlete and, per source, a total “weight room warrior.” His work ethic has been noticed by the staff and that alone will earn him opportunities to win some snaps. He has a little bit of Pete Werner in him where he is more than athletic enough to play in coverage, which makes him highly versatile. He seems like a play where if he just gets his chance it will be hard to keep him off of the field.
JK Johnson. According to sources close to the team, the staff feels very positive about their young defensive back room. People within the program feel that the talent has upgraded tremendously since the arrival of that 2021 class with Burke, Hancock, and now JK Johnson, who they feel has a chance to push for that third corner spot along with Hancock. For all of the talk about Hancock (and rightfully so), Johnson has been right there with him and will be a contributor to the team, even if it is on special teams. Right now, it is time for Johnson to prove it all on the field, and breaking out in camp will be his first step.
Evan Pryor. We have all been hearing Pryor’s name since the beginning of spring practice, as he has begun to display a diverse skill set and tremendous raw potential. With his Curtis Samuel-type skill set, fans caught a glimpse of his potential during the spring game and have been patiently waiting for more ever since. When a player is pushing for playing time in a room that features Trey Henderson and Milan Williams, that gets my attention, and by all accounts, Pryor is a guy who could be pushing for playing time. If he has a good fall camp, Ohio State may really need to consider looking into how Georgia deployed three running backs during their national championship run. An offense where Henderson, Williams, and Pryor all have fresh legs in November is a terrifying thought for opposing defenses.
This Ohio State team is one of the most talented the program has seen, from top to bottom. Many of these young thoroughbreds have been catching the attention of the staff and their teammates all throughout the offseason. They are all primed to seize their opportunities and earn time on the field and continue to build the foundation for their young careers.