Ohio State is achieving its most important goal for the post-spring transfer window: retaining all of its key players

The transfer portal closed for the last time before the 2024 season when midnight struck Wednesday, and the 15-day post-spring window to enter the portal came and went, with Ohio State losing just six backups: running back Dallan Hayden , wide receiver Kyion Grayes , guard Enokk Vimahi, linebacker Nigel Glover and safeties Ja'Had Carter and Cedrick Hawkins.

None of their departures were shocking or devastating. Ohio State would have liked to keep Hayden as its third running back this season and as a potential starter in 2025, but the Buckeyes still have a loaded running back depth chart led by two of the best ball carriers in the country: TreVeyon Henderson and Quinshon Judkins. The loss of two safeties leaves the Buckeyes a little thin with just six scholarship players at the position, but neither Carter nor Hawkins expected to see significant playing time this year as Carter enters his final season as a collegiate player.

Vimahi started at right guard in the Cotton Bowl, but his poor performance against Missouri made it clear that he would not be a viable starting option for the Buckeyes this year. Glover and Grayes played no snaps in 2023 and remained low on the depth chart at their respective positions.

Every player who was expected to play a significant role for the Buckeyes this season coming out of spring training is still on the roster with the transfer portal now closed for this year, and that's a big win for Ohio State .

Few would have predicted this result before the start of the post-spring transfer window. With rumors that this year's spring transfer window would be more chaotic than in years past, the Buckeyes were expected to lose at least a few big-name players. Even from sources close to the program, it was considered a foregone conclusion that Ohio State would lose at least one of its five scholarship quarterbacks.

Instead, Ohio State has kept nearly its entire roster intact — a credit to Ohio State's efforts to build a culture whose players want to stay a part.

“I feel like we have a team that has come together for a common goal,” Ryan Day said during the final week of spring training before the portal reopened. “We talk about why you play so hard here at Ohio State, because of the brotherhood and the love of your teammates. I think we have such a good group. I think the guys want to be here, they want to be at Ohio State, they understand what it means to be a Buckeye, they see the opportunity this season. So I don’t see a lot of people just looking to run out the door.”

Aside from this offseason's first transfer window, in which the Buckeyes sent 19 scholarship players into the portal, Ohio State's roster retention rates have compared favorably to other top programs in the transfer portal era. The mass exodus in December was largely necessary because otherwise Ohio State would have been well over the scholarship limit of 85 people; Even in this cycle, most of the departures were players who hadn't played much for the Buckeyes and weren't expected to play much more in 2024, with a few notable exceptions like Kyle McCord, Julian Fleming and Jesse Mirco.

Thanks to an impressive post-spring roster, Ohio State will have one of the deepest rosters in college football in 2024. The Buckeyes' quarterback strength will be the envy of the sport, and in most other games they are full of top-tier talent at positions too, particularly along the defensive line and at cornerback. That depth will be more important than ever as Ohio State expects to play 16 or 17 games if it gets to the national championship game, which was among Day's concerns for his players who may have considered transferring at the end of the game spring.

“We know we have to play with a lot of depth next year,” Day said. “You may be a two-seed or a three-seed right now, but you could compete for a championship in the College Football Playoff and be the guy we count on. So I think this is a different and unique time that we are entering. So when you look at the depth chart, I don't think it's as important as it used to be. There will be a lot of football played next year and we will rely on guys and play depth, especially in the first half of the season, because we will need them in the second half of the season.”

“I think the guys want to be here, they want to be at Ohio State, they understand what it means to be a Buckeye, they see the opportunity this season.”– Ryan Day on players staying at Ohio State

Ohio State's work on the transfer portal is ongoing, as players who have already entered the portal can still transfer to new schools even though the portal is now closed. Ideally, the Buckeyes would add another starting-caliber offensive lineman as right guard remains a big question mark heading into the spring. Adding another safety for depth purposes would be beneficial, as would adding a veteran running back to replace Hayden.

The Buckeyes have five scholarships available to support any player they believe can improve their roster. However, thanks to roster retention in recent weeks, Ohio State doesn't necessarily need to add any more transfers to have a championship-caliber roster this year, meaning the Buckeyes have already achieved their most important post-spring goal from a roster management standpoint.

The lack of transfer portal activity after the spring wasn't just limited to Ohio State. Despite the hype that preceded the portal's reopening, there were almost no moves involving big-name players in the second transfer cycle. While the winter transfer window looks set to remain de facto free agency for the foreseeable future, fears of another wave of major roster shakeups for the sport's top teams proved unfounded, at least this year.

With most of college football's top talent choosing to stay during the April transfer window, Ohio State is unlikely to make any additions that will be anywhere near as spectacular as the additions of Caleb Downs, Quinshon Judkins, Will Howard and Julian Sayin in January. Some additional talent could enter the transfer portal in the next few days, as graduate transfers have until the end of the day on Wednesday to enroll and schools have 48 hours to process portal entries, but there are no clear targets for the Buckeyes yet .

However, a lack of overall transfer activity is an overall positive for the Buckeyes after the spring. Ohio State may have the best roster in college football this season, but before we could say that for sure, the team had to get through the final transfer window.

Anna Harden

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