The Buckeyes are making moves this off-season.
College football programs have two portal periods on their calendars: one in the winter and one in the spring. Once players enter the portal, they essentially have as long as they want to decide where to commit, but for those seeking good practice time with their new teammates, the sooner the better.
The winter portal opened Dec. 5, 2022, and closed Jan. 18, 2023, while the spring window opened April 15 and closed April 30.
Head coach Ryan Day said he and his staff assess their team’s needs and use the portal to fill holes while adding depth to position groups.
“We’ve been very careful to add pieces here, but we know it’s a necessary thing. And so we have to sit down at the end of spring and identify what positions that we feel good about,” Day said. “Where do we have depth that we feel strong about? Because we know we’re going to lose guys along the way and guys are going to have to step up.”
On the offensive side, the main focus has been the quarterback competition between third-year Kyle McCord and second-year Devin Brown. As of Jan. 18, the Buckeyes have another option on their roster, graduate Oregon State transfer Tristan Gebbia.
When Brown couldn’t play in the spring game due to recent thumb surgery, the 6-foot-2 quarterback from Calabasas, California was given a chance. Gebbia brings six years of collegiate quarterback experience to the table, and though his numbers weren’t great before Ohio State, he did connect with freshman wide receiver Noah Rogers in the spring game for a 57-yard touchdown.
“He’s coming in as a player, but he also wants to be a coach,” Day said. “And so what a cool opportunity for him and something hopefully that we can build on moving forward as guys who want to get into coaching, who are quarterbacks who could come in and provide that maturity, but also learn the game. And that’s what he’s doing right now.”
The Buckeyes added two offensive linemen with the departure of Paris Johnson Jr. and Dawand Jones to the NFL – fourth-year Victor Cutler Jr. and redshirt sophomore Josh Simmons.
Cutler Jr., from Louisiana-Monroe, became a Buckeye Jan. 18. As a Warhawk in 2022, he started at left tackle but played along the line at both right tackle and center. With 17 career collegiate games played and two years of eligibility remaining, he adds depth and versatility to a position left with uncertainty..
Simmons, a 6-foot-6 nose guard from San Diego State, played his entire freshman season. With three years of eligibility remaining, he could potentially play at right tackle — a position he played as an Aztec.
On defense, Ohio State acquired players to assist in protecting the secondary, including two cornerbacks and a safety, the first to commit being fourth-year safety out of Syracuse Ja’Had Carter.
Carter was a three-year starter for the Orange and was one of the top-ranked safeties in the portal. The Richmond, Virginia native was a freshman All-American in 2020 and had a career-high of 13 tackles against NC State in November 2020.
“Carter was playing well,” Day said. “He kind of raised the level of everybody back there.”
Carter faced a minor injury earlier this spring that kept him out of Ohio State’s spring game, but it is not presumed to be a concern moving into the summer.
He will enter a competitive room of fourth-year players, including Josh Proctor, Lathan Ransom, Kourt Williams and Cameron Martinez, along with second-year Sonny Styles.
At cornerback, the Buckeyes added Davison Igbinosun and Lorenzo Styles Jr, Sonny Styles’ older brother.
Styles Jr. committed April 29 from Notre Dame after playing wide receiver for two years with the Irish. The third-year has not played in the secondary since high school but was originally recruited by the Buckeyes to play at the cornerback position.
Igbinosun, a second-year from Ole Miss, was a 2022 freshman All-American and earned 10 starting jobs as a true freshman. His season-high of eight tackles came last October against then-No. 7 Kentucky, and he totaled 37 tackles over the season.
“Davison has been a great addition. It’s been great to see him out there and compete. I think he’s raising the level in that room,” Day said.
The Buckeyes’ most recent acquisition came May 9 – Tywone Malone, a 6-foot-4, 300-pound defensive lineman from Ole Miss. The redshirt sophomore was the No. 1 player out of New Jersey in 2021, according to 247Sports, and was a two-sport athlete for the Rebels, splitting his time between the football and baseball fields.
Malone will create more depth in the interior defensive line, as he played in all 13 games for the Rebels in 2022 and recorded 10 tackles, one tackle-for-loss and one sack.
On special teams, the Buckeyes added third-year walk-on kicker from Kent State Casey Magyar, which was crucial following the transfer of Jake Seibert. Additionally, at long snapper, Ohio State added third-year John Ferlmann from Arizona State Dec. 17, 2022. Ferlmann started every game last season and will join Max Lomonico and Collin Johnson.
With just over three months until Ohio State kicks off its season against the Hoosiers on Sept. 2 in Bloomington, Indiana, there is plenty of time for additional decisions to be made.