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Spring position battles to watch: Ohio State Buckeyes

Gareon Conley will be the only returning starter in the secondary for the Buckeyes in 2016. Bradley Leeb/AP Photo

Spring practice is in full swing for most schools in the Big Ten, and the first drafts of depth charts across the conference are starting to take shape. Some positions are well in hand, others won’t be decided until the teams take the field in September. This week we’re taking a look at the most interesting position battles to watch in the coming month for each team. Next on our list is Ohio State.

Running back: The Buckeyes trusted Ezekiel Elliott to do just about everything required of a tailback, and maybe even a few more jobs on top of that. There’s a chance Urban Meyer won’t be able to replace the superstar with just one guy, but his offense at Ohio State has usually clicked with one player featured as the every-down back, with Carlos Hyde filling that spot before Elliott. The top candidates are veteran Bri’onte Dunn and touted redshirt freshman Mike Weber, and whether or not the Buckeyes decide on a committee approach or establish a clear front-runner could be settled by the end of camp.

Wide receiver: The competition won’t truly heat up until the Buckeyes get healthy at the position, which isn’t going to happen by the time the spring game rolls around next month. But with so many opportunities available after losing Michael Thomas, Braxton Miller and Jalin Marshall in the offseason, the guys on the field now could gain a valuable leg up. Ohio State has a deep supply of coveted recruits who don’t have much experience yet, and the practice reps for talented athletes like Torrance Gibson, Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin and early enrollee Austin Mack could prove invaluable.

Safety: With only cornerback Gareon Conley returning in the secondary, there is no shortage of opportunities in the defensive backfield. Injuries at safety are providing another challenge with Erick Smith and Cam Burrows both limited, but that might open the door for Malik Hooker or even a potential conversion from cornerback for the versatile Eric Glover-Williams.