So, the spring game is right around the corner. The roster and depth chart are beginning to take shape as we near the end of spring ball in Columbus, Ohio. That of course means the spring portal window is about to open, and rosters and position groups are about to change. We have already seen indications that Dallan Hayden is leaving, and rumors are abound that Lincoln Kienholz is going to be next. So if that is true what will be the next domino to fall?

There are several position groups where players find themselves buried, leap-frogged by younger and/or more talented players. So, who should we watch this Saturday as potential transfer candidates? In my own opinion, these are the top five candidates to watch as potential transfers in addition to Dallan Hayden and Lincoln Kienholz. Let me preface by saying while I have heard some rumors this is merely opinion and not based on factual information reported by the university or the players mentioned.

  1. Jayden Ballard – Ballard came in as a four-star top 100 recruit out of Massillon Washington High School. A local player with lofty expectations. He was an early enrollee in January 2021. Through no real fault of his own, Ballard has been buried on the depth chart behind a tremendous group of receivers – Olave, Smith-Njigba, and Wilson in 2021, Egbuka and Harrison Jr. In 2022 and 2023, and now with Egbuka returning, along with the progression of Carnell Tate, Brandon Innis, and Bryson Rodgers, and the emergence of superstar first-year student Jeremiah Smith, it appears Ballard could be lost in the shuffle again.
  2. Kojo Antwi – Like Ballard, Kojo was a high four star wide receiver recruit. And like Ballard, he has struggledto break through due to the amazing talent in the wide receiver room. He figured on at least being in the two deep this season, but with Egbuka staying and Jeremiah Smith emerging, Antwi is going to relegated to relatively little playing time again this season.
  3. Kyion Grayes – Here we have another wide receiver who will not see the field this season. He was hoping for his shot this year, but again, he was recruited over and finds himself as a third option at the “Z” if he is lucky.
  4. Enock Vimahi – Vimahi is in his final season of eligibility after coming to Ohio State as a four-star recruit. Following a rough showing in the Cotton Bowl and not cementing a starting spot through 5 seasons, Vimahi is a prime candidate for transfer this season.
  5. Kenyatta Jackson – Unlike the other guys on this list, Kenyatta Jackson is slotted early in the two deep at defensive end. Jackson is slowed by Jack Sawyer and JT Tuimoloau, he still is in line for significant playing time. If Jackson leaves, it will be for a #1 spot and a big bag of cash in the form of NIL. Jackson would be a huge loss for the Buckeyes, and hopefully he remains, but there have been rumblings he is at least considering a move.

While we never want to see anyone leave, in today’s NCAA, this is an unpleasant fact. Players will come, and players will go. With NIL, many players will sell their services to the highest bidder. For all the criticism Ryan Day gets, I will say he recruits character guys into his program. That is why we have not seen the mass exoduses some programs have experienced. At the same time, I understand these kids want to maximize their opportunities. The problem we see this season is one most teams would love to have, an overabundance of high-quality talent, and some guys realize their window of opportunity with the Buckeyes has passed.

As for the players I mentioned, I believe this Saturday in the Shoe will tell us a lot. Who gets the first and second team reps will be a major sign of where certain players stand on the depth chart. These are valuable reps, and they won’t be wasted. Early on, if we see guys sitting out most of the game, especially the guys I mentioned, Dallan Hayden and Lincoln Kienholz, I think we will get a good sign of who will and won’t be here for summer camp.