Every year, Urban Meyer goes through his Ohio State Buckeyes roster and ranks his playmakers on offense. He writes down the players who need to get the football, and then sets out to make sure the offense follows through on his wishes.
Every year, I do the same thing, but with a little less impact.
My rankings from last year had Curtis Samuel as the team’s top playmaker, and that held true once the season began. The two years prior, it was Ezekiel Elliott, and that was accurate as well.
So who is Ohio State’s top playmaker in 2017? Good question.
Before we can start breaking down the Top 10 over the next two weeks, however, we must first acknowledge those who fell just short.
With the injury to third-year tight end A.J. Alexander, and the academic questions surrounding redshirt freshman tight end Kierre Hawkins, the Buckeyes only have about 22 players who could even make the list. With redshirts likely for quarterback Tate Martell and receiver Ellijah Gardiner, they were the only two eligible skill players not to make the Top 20. For now, at least.
We should revisit this list in about five weeks and see where things stand at that point. Somebody remind me.
So let’s get started.
Offensive Playmakers 20-11
20. Dwayne Haskins, QB rFr
Dwayne Haskins can run, but would prefer to pass. There are still plenty of plays that can be made with an arm, however. There may not be a casual role for him in this offense, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be able to handle some reps.
19. Rashod Berry, TE/DE rSo
Rashod Berry may be getting a look at tight end with the depletions mentioned above. He began his Ohio State career at tight end, so this wouldn’t be a stretch. In fact, if he can be a stretch, then he might actually move up this list. Or down it. I’m not sure which verbiage is appropriate.
18. Jaylen Harris, WR Fr
Jaylen Harris is more likely to redshirt than break into the top half of this list. But at 6-foot-5 and 205 pounds, he has the size and strength to be a red-zone option for the Buckeyes. Ohio State isn’t really hurting for tall receivers right now, though.
17. Joe Burrow, QB rSo
Joe Burrow completed 22-of-28 passes (78.6%) for 226 yards and two touchdowns in limited snaps last year. He also averaged 4.8 yards per carry on 12 attempts. He has shown enough to the coaches that they know he can step in and make plays with his arm and legs if need be.
16. Jake Hausmann, TE rFr
Jake Hausmann could move up this list because he will be battling with fellow redshirt freshman Luke Farrell to be the No. 2 tight end for the Buckeyes. He’s not as tall as Farrell, but he’s strong at the point of attack and can fight for extra yards wherever the ball finds him.
15. Eric Glover-Williams, HB Jr
On most teams, Eric Glover-Williams would likely be much higher on this list. Even though he was an offensive guy in high school, there has been a steep learning curve for him since he moved from safety to H-back. That process will continue this season. He has tons of ability, but he needs consistency before he can move up this list.
14. Antonio Williams, RB So
Antonio Williams was dinged up a bit this spring, so he has some ground to make up this summer. Freshman J.K. Dobbins went past him on the depth chart this spring, and before he can move up this list, he has to move up on the list of running backs.
13. Luke Farrell, TE rFr
Luke Farrell was one of the most-improved players from last year to now. He showed in the spring that he can be an effective intermediate weapon for J.T. Barrett. At 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds, Farrell looks like the complete package at the position. Can Kevin Wilson get the ball to a second tight end enough to move him into the top half of this list?
12. Johnnie Dixon, WR rJr
I initially had Johnnie Dixon in the Top 10, but I moved him down a couple of spots because of how cautiously Zach Smith talked about him this spring. Dixon had a great spring, but rather than put too much on him in July, I decided to ease him onto this list slowly. When we revisit things in August, I would be pretty surprised if he hasn’t moved up.
11. Austin Mack, WR So
Austin Mack is still waiting for his breakout. People wouldn’t even be worried about him if he hadn’t played so well early in the spring of 2016. If you go to a restaurant that you know is going to be busy, you understand there is going to be a wait. But if you show up and they tell you that it might only be 25 minutes, you start to get excited. But what happens when 25 minutes passes, and so does 35 minutes, and they finally seat you after 45 minutes? You just waited the exact 45 minutes you expected to before you arrived, but since you were told the wait might only be 25 minutes, you feel a bit misled and you are now having a negative experience with this restaurant simply because you thought you might not have to wait as long as you normally do. That’s sort of where Austin Mack is. He’s right on time, but you were told that he might arrive just a bit sooner, so now you’re a little disappointed at the wait. None of this is Mack’s fault.
Tomorrow… No. 10
I like Mack at 11. He can make the top 10 w/ a few moments of focus and poise. He can make some plays this year.
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