Ohio State Football: Special Teams Rounds Out Early Season Position Groups Preview

Ohio State Kicker and Special Teams Leader Jayden Fielding | Image Credit: Matt Parker, Letterman Row/On3
Ohio State Kicker and Special Teams Leader Jayden Fielding | Image Credit: Matt Parker, Letterman Row/On3

Special Teams, Special Plays, Special Players round out the early season position groups preview for the Ohio State football team.

What’s up, brothers! Rounding out the early season preview of Ohio State’s position groups is the special teams unit. With a few familiar faces and a few new ones, here are the current projections for how the Buckeyes will go about their special teams this fall.

Returning Kicker Leads the Group of Specialists

At kicker, redshirt sophomore Jayden Fielding is the likely choice to be the starting kicker for the second year in a row. Fielding was reliable on extra points and inside of 40 yards last season. Fielding missed just one of his 50 extra-point attempts in 2023. He was also 5/5 and 6/6 on field goals of 20-29 yards and 30-39 yards respectively. He struggled a little on further attempts, going 5/8 on 40-49-yard field goals and missing his only attempt of 50 yards or more.

Unless the transfer portal adds a kicker or Fielding for some reason leaves, he will be the starter. Senior Austin Snyder is a Findlay transfer and will likely backup Fielding, with senior Kent State transfer Casey Magyar rounding out the kicking unit.

At punter, Jesse Mirco was the starting punter last season but transferred to the SEC and is now at Vanderbilt. Joe McGuire is a sophomore from Australia who is the only player listed as a punter on the team. Ohio State may add a portal punter with kicker Austin Snyder being a potential backup due to his punting at Findlay.

Long snapper John Ferlmann is a senior who started at Long Snapper last season after spending his prior season at Arizona State. He will hold down the position after solid play in 2023. Senior Max Lomonico has spent all of his seasons as a Buckeye and could be next in line if something were to happen at this position.

Kick and punt returners are questions that need answering for the Ohio State specialists by the time fall rolls around. Xavier Johnson, Chip Trayanum, and Steele Chambers were the lead kick returners last season but all either entered the draft with college eligibility running out, or transferred. Lorenzo Styles Jr. is a wide receiver turned cornerback who returned kicks when he started his career at Notre Dame. Mylan Graham is a shifty receiver who could also take on the challenge, which would give both him and Styles Jr. a starting role as they are both in crowded position rooms. Wide receivers Carnell Tate, Brandon Innis, and Jayden Ballard could all be in line as well, with Ballard returning some punts last season.

Punt returns were handled by Ballard and Emeka Egbuka last season but were not an area in which the team excelled. Safety Caleb Downs returned an 85-yard punt to the house in his time at Alabama last season and could be seen doing the same this year. Sophomore Brandon Innis also took some punts as a true freshman and could slide into that role if healthy. A receiver or corner with reliable hands, speed, and explosiveness could be what Ohio State needs to earn those extra yards on special teams.

With some special team pieces leaving and not many entering the groups, the positions will likely be filled by old faces and young players looking for bigger roles. If Ohio State can stay steady on both sides of the ball, the hope will be that special teams can work themselves out as the fall and season roll on. But as the streamer Sketch would say, special teams, special plays, special players.