At the end of the day, it comes down to 85. That’s the maximum number of football scholarships that schools can hand out, according to the NCAA bylaws, and this time of the year, schools are always looking to manage that number as the next recruiting class rolls in.
Heading into the Rose Bowl, Ohio State has 80 players on scholarship, according to the Buckeye Sports Bulletin Scholarship Chart. This includes five players – Haskell Garrett, Antwaun Jackson, Demario McCall, Thayer Munford and Marcus Williamson – that will have exhausted their eligibility after this season.
Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson are also expected to enter the NFL Draft, while draft decisions await from Zach Harrison, Nicholas Petit-Frere and Dawand Jones. Sevyn Banks also indicated to Eleven Warriors that he’s likely played his last snaps as a Buckeye, though it’s unclear if it’s in regards to a draft decision or a potential transfer.
A number of scholarship seniors also participated in Senior Day festivities earlier this season, including Tyreke Smith, Jeremy Ruckert, Master Teague and Mitch Rossi, indicating they could be moving on from Ohio State. Cameron Brown also participated, but the junior already announced plans to return next season.
All said, this leaves Ohio State with anywhere between 64 and 74 potential scholarships following the Rose Bowl. Don’t forget to take the class of 2022 into consideration, which signed 18 commits last week, leaving Ohio State with anywhere between 82 and 92 players set to be on scholarship next season.
Day has already indicated that Ohio State would like to take a couple more players in 2022 – preferably all, but any combination of Duncanville (Texas) four-star defensive end Omari Abor, Hammond (Wisc.) four-star offensive lineman Carson Hinzman and Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Catholic four-star defensive tackle Hero Kanu – so expect that number to grow.
The Buckeyes will likely need to shed some weight somewhere, but given the number of in-season transfers that Ohio State has experienced this season, it wouldn’t be surprising to see some additional transfers in the new year following the season’s conclusion.
Ohio State will also need to make room if it is looking to take advantage of the transfer portal this offseason, as the Buckeyes could use some immediate depth at linebacker and on the offensive line, where numbers were fewer than expected in the most recent recruiting class.
Potential opt outs in the Rose Bowl will help clear up confusion on players who are and are not returning, but there’s no question Ohio State will get down to 85. It remains to be seen, however, how they will get it done.