Spring practice has been eventful in Columbus, with new defensive coordinator Jim Knowles and offensive line coach Justin Frye both getting their first cracks at re-orienting the Buckeyes. Ohio State has a phenomenal core of experienced veterans and, with a few small improvements in key areas, could be back on top of the college football world. Here are 5 particular Buckeyes everybody is hoping to see in Saturday’s spring game.

1. QB Kyle McCord

The sophomore backup QB had 1 start in 2021, and with CJ Stroud in Columbus, is largely assumed to be biding his time until 2023. In limited action, McCord was 25-for-38 last year for 416 yards, 2 TDs and 2 interceptions. While Quinn Ewers chose to transfer, McCord has stuck it out and as QB2 and the heir apparent for 2023. OSU fans hope they don’t need him sooner, but he’s definitely going to be worth watching on Saturday.

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2. DE Mitchell Melton

Melton played in 1 game back in 2020 and missed last season entirely due to a springtime injury. One focus for Knowles’ defense will be improving pressure on the passer, and to that end, Melton was moved from linebacker to the defensive end or jack position. The 6-3 sophomore from Maryland has stood out in his ability to make plays off the edge, and he figures to join returnees like Jack Saywer and JT Tuimoloau in bringing some heat to opposing backfields.

3. DB Tanner McCalister

McCalister happens to be exactly what OSU seemed most to need last fall — a capable veteran defensive back. Even better, he’s an Oklahoma State transfer, where he played under Knowles’ supervision for 4 seasons. A starter in each of the past 2 seasons, McCalister has 123 tackles and a dozen passes defended in his college career. He seems likely to be the starter at nickel, with Knowles relying on 3 safeties in his defense. If OSU hopes to improve on finishing 12th in the Big Ten in passing yards allowed per game (245.8), McCalister is a key plug-and-play addition.

4. QB Devin Brown

With Ewers departing the program, Brown suddenly becomes much more interesting as a freshman early enrollee. Having prepped under former Buckeye Joe Germaine, Brown is saying and doing all the right things in his first days in Columbus. Realistically, barring some catastrophic events, he’s at least a year away, but at the same time, for him to get 3rd-string reps instead of finishing his senior year of high school is a nice advantage. Buckeye fans are excited to see Brown in a game situation.

5. OG Donovan Jackson

Jackson was a big-time recruit a year ago, but he didn’t arrive until fall and the Texas product saw only spot work as a backup lineman. The good news is that he’s taken advantage of an opportunity (Josh Fryar sitting out the spring) to run with the first-string offensive line so far at left guard. Jackson’s athleticism and intensity have impressed onlookers and Fryar could be Wally Pipped into a backup role … or Jackson may slide out and play tackle if the situation warrants it. Offensive linemen are often anonymous, but figure out how the Buckeye line works out in the fall probably warrants keeping an eye on Jackson on Saturday.