Last year, Ohio State had its worst season since it went (6-7) in 2011. The Buckeyes lost a whopping total of two games and failed to win the Big Ten for the first time since 2016. The 2022 Ohio State team is going to look to rebound, put their rivals back where they belong, and challenge for the College Football Playoff yet again.
As we did last year, there are a few Buckeyes who are not quite yet household names. C.J. Stroud is a Heisman candidate. His weapons Marvin Harrison, Jr., Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and TreVeyon Henderson have a national fanbase after one of the most exciting Rose Bowls in modern memory. Betting on these Buckeyes is going to be as sure as crypto sports betting this fall.
Five 2022 Ohio State Buckeyes to Know
Ohio State offensive lineman Donovan Jackson impressing at spring practice so far https://t.co/VTCs33UL1d
— Ohio State Football News (@OSU_fb_news) April 6, 2022
Donovan Jackson was able to get onto the field as a true freshman in 2021 as an extra lineman/first off the bench. Even at 18 years old, Jackson’s size and athleticism could not be ignored. Even though Jackson was recruited as a tackle, he will likely start at left guard for the Buckeyes next to Paris Johnson, Jr.
Coming out of high school, Jackson was the top guard in the nation and the top overall recruit out of the state of Texas. He’s a 6’4″ monster with a seven-foot wingspan. He’s a big, nasty offensive lineman who will easily pave the way for Henderson and help protect Stroud’s blindside.
Jackson has a legitimate opportunity to earn First-Team honors for both the Big Ten and All-American teams. New offensive line coach, Justin Frye, will have plenty to work with this fall. Keep an eye out for number 74.
Have you seen the #1 high school linebacker in the country and future Ohio State Buckeye CJ Hicks yet? Because his game is WILD pic.twitter.com/5Xcf1y3fu4
— VarsityLink (@Varsity_Link) June 21, 2022
The crown jewel of the 2022 Ohio State recruiting class, C.J. Hicks is a legitimate talent already. He broke out during the Ohio State Spring Game. In just 30 snaps, Hicks accounted for 11 tackles and shared a tackle for loss. He was everywhere.
Hicks was the top recruit in Ohio and the top linebacker recruit overall. He has good size and strength already. Hicks already looks like a legitimate collegiate linebacker and was a natural on the field with other established Buckeyes.
Ohio State’s defense is going to look very different in 2022. Considering how awful it was last year, this will be a welcome site for Buckeye fans. Jim Knowles’ defense is a sort of 3-3/4-2 and if Hicks is going to break through, he will have to earn it. There are a few established linebackers ahead of him but with an easier early slate — aside from Notre Dame, of course — Hicks will get plenty of playing time. He will show Knowles and the rest of the Ohio State coaching staff that he deserves playing time. Think of him as this year’s Denzel Burke.
As a true freshman, Emeka Egbuka played sparingly outside of special teams. Egbuka gave Ohio State just a taste of his athleticism and home run ability in just eight games last year. With a loaded wide receiver room, many are pointing to Egbuka to break out ala Smith-Njigba.
As a receiver, Egbuka recorded just nine receptions for 191 yards. This fall, Ohio State will look to utilize his ability for yards after the catch. In his first offensive touch of the season against Akron, Egbuka took a pass 85 yards down to the two-yard line. As a returner, Egbuka returned 20 kicks for 580 yards, good for a Big Ten-best 29 yards per return.
On a number of occasions, Egbuka seemed like he was just about to break away. Ohio State got a good look at Egbuka as the full-time returner in the Rose Bowl where he returned seven kicks for 163 yards. Ohio State hasn’t had a kick return touchdown since Jordan Hall returned one 85 yards against Michigan in 2010. If Egbuka is the full-time returner, he has the talent to make at least one house call.
After fracturing his left shoulder in his only game appearance as a freshman, Jakailin Johnson is ready to “get on the field and just show the world what I can actually do.” https://t.co/pDg9V3xPHm
— Eleven Warriors (@11W) May 30, 2022
The 2022 Ohio State defensive backs room is going to look a little different. Since August 2021, five cornerbacks and five safeties elected to enter the Transfer Portal. After Burke, there is a bit of a power vacuum at corner. Redshirt senior Cam Brown was and is the cornerback opposite Burke but missed time in 2021 due to injury.
There will be a young corner who will challenge Brown for playing time. Who better than the top recruit out of Missouri and the number three corner in the nation, Jakailin Johnson? Johnson committed to the Buckeyes before even stepping foot on campus officially and has been generating plenty of buzz ahead of his redshirt freshman season.
As Knowles put it, he is facing the nation’s best wide receiver corps every day in practice. Johnson would have gotten more playing time in 2021 if not for a shoulder injury. Now that he’s fully healthy, Johnson is going to show that his talent is too good to keep off of the field.
Tyleik Williams: Highest pass rush win rate among Big Ten interior DLs (22.1%) 💢 pic.twitter.com/XteU8CDNjQ
— PFF College (@PFF_College) January 24, 2022
Finally, Tyleik Williams is a name that any hardcore college football fan already knows. Unfortunately, big defensive tackles are not household names. Williams should be the exception.
As a true freshman, Williams appeared in 12 games for the Buckeyes. He amassed 16 tackles, 6.5 of which were for loss. He finished second on the team with five sacks as well. Williams’ efforts earned him First-Team Freshman All-American and an Honorable Mention All-Big Ten.
It goes without saying how impressive it was that a true freshman was able to crack the rotation of the uber-deep defensive line. With another season under his belt, Williams will be able to improve upon his already explosive playstyle. With Ohio State’s new defense, Williams will have the opportunity to play a true nose tackle.
“Our Honor Defend…”
Ohio State’s roster is loaded with elite talent, as per usual. The issue is and has always been whether or not they can play to their talent. This is often a coaching problem. Considering how Coach Ryan Day just about completely cleaned house after losing to Oregon and Michigan, thus missing out on the Big Ten title for the first time.
The 2022 Ohio State season is going to be defined by who steps up. Everyone knows about Stroud/Smith-Njigba/Henderson. Everyone knows about J.T. Tuimoloau and Jack Sawyer now. It’s time for the college football world to be further introduced to some of the young playmakers on the Buckeyes’ roster.
It all starts in Columbus, September 3rd against Notre Dame.