Fall Camp Insider: Freshman Watch
By Brandon Castel
Urban Meyer is calling this a “make or break” week for his football team, but that doesn’t some of his players haven’t already made a big impact this fall.
That includes a handful of the newcomers on Meyer’s roster. Here is a complete rundown of the 2012 freshman class as it stands today.
6 Making the Most Noise
1. Noah Spence (6-3, 240, DE): If Spence doesn’t see the field at this point, it would be surprising. He was the second freshman to have his black stripe removed and John Simon called him the best athlete on the defensive line. Teams can never have enough guys who can rush the passer.
Photo by Jim Davidson
2. Taylor Decker (6-7, 310, OT): On the flip side, it’s often just as hard to find players who can protect the passer. Decker has shown he can do just that, and he’s still giving senior Reid Fragel a battle at right tackle. He may not start, but he will play.
3. Michael Thomas (6-2, 193, WR): The Buckeyes are in desperate need of playmakers at wideout and Thomas appears to be just that. Meyer said he has picked up this fall where he left off in the spring. That should mean big opportunities for him.
4. Bri’onte Dunn (6-1, 214, RB): Dunn isn’t going to be OSU’s starting tailback, at least not to start the year, but he could be the backup. Reports are that he has looked good in pads and he’s battling Rod Smith for the No. 2 spot behind Carlos Hyde.
5. De’van Bogard (6-0, 197, DB): Not a guy who was talked about a lot in February, Bogard was the first player in his class to get his black stripe removed. He has the look of a playmaker and could get a chance to play the ‘Star’ position early.
6. David Perkins (6-2, 220, LB): Meyer singled Perkins out as a guy who impressed him in the scrimmage, and he certainly has the speed and athleticism Meyer likes on defense.
7 More in the Mix
Photo by Jim Davidson
1. Adolphus Washington (6-3, 289, DT): He just missed our top six, but Washington has been impressive in his first camp. He looks like a grown man, and he’s playing a grown man position. Look for him to get in the mix behind Big Hank as a freshman.
2. Jamal Marcus (6-2, 225, LB): We don’t know where or how, but this staff will find a way to get Marcus on the field. He’s captured the attention of his head coach, and he looks like a kid who’s been in the program for a couple years.
3. Camren Williams (6-1, 225, LB): Williams may not see the field early on defense, but there are a lot of reasons to like his future at MLB. It’s a position that has been historically strong at OSU, and Williams could be the next good one after Curtis Grant.
4. Tommy Schutt (6-2, 305, DT): He didn’t exactly flash on the first couple days of camp, but Schutt has come on strong. He’s a big, strong guy who can play up the middle and he was the third rookie to have his black stripe removed.
5. Jacoby Boren (6-2, 283, C): We haven’t gotten to see much of Boren this fall because of the shoulder surgery, but he is still locked in as the backup center behind Corey Linsley.
6. Najee Murray (5-9, 178, DB): He could play corner or he could play safety, but either way, Murray is a player. He hits harder than a corner, but he’s not exactly big enough to play safety. That never stopped Christian Bryant, though. Right now he’s a corner.
7. Se’Von Pittman (6-3, 259, DE): Much like Washington and Schutt, Pittman is already making his presence felt on the defensive line this fall. He was sidelined by a knee injury in the spring, but he is another kid who already looks like a veteran. Should give the Buckeyes good depth at strongside end behind Michael Bennett.
6 Who Could Come on Strong
Photo by Jim Davidson
1. Joshua Perry (6-4, 231, LB): Perry was enrolled in the spring but missed a lot of camp because of an injury. He has had some issues with asthma this fall, but he’s been getting a lot of reps as the second-string Sam LB.
2. Armani Reeves (5-10, 194, CB): Unlike Murray, we know Reeves is a corner, despite the fact he’s big enough to play safety. It’s probably not a matter of if, but when, for Reeves. A lot will come down to how quickly he can pick up the defense. It may not be this year.
3. Kyle Dodson (6-5, 315, OT): He is still not back to 100 percent strength in the shoulder, but he is full-go this fall and the Buckeyes have needed him. Dodson has been the third-team left tackle and has even played some right tackle with the second team.
4. Warren Ball (6-1, 215, RB): A lot depends on what happens with the other backs, but we’ve learned there are never enough tailbacks to go around. If Ball had been here in the spring, he might be more the mix for that No. 2 tailback role.
5. Tyvis Powell (6-3, 196, DB): Another guy who could be corner or a safety, Powell has been getting some reps with the second-team defense at corner this fall.
6. Luke Roberts (6-1, 226, LB): He can play inside at Mike backer or outside at Will, which makes Roberts a very versatile backup.
Too Early to Tell
Photo by Jim Davidson
1. Ricquan Southward (6-0, 185, WR): He’s been battling some injury issues this fall and really hasn’t been in the mix at receiver.
2. Joey O’Connor (6-3, 305, OL): Another guy battling some injuries during camp, O’Connor is a guy who could shoot up this list if and when he can get healthy.
3. Cardale Jones (6-5, 226, QB): There doesn’t seem to be much urgency to get Jones ready for the 2012 season. Part of that is probably because Meyer doesn’t like his chances with the No. 3 QB anyway, but reps have been limited behind Braxton Miller and Kenny Guiton.
4. Frank Epitropoulos (6-1, 197, WR): He has gotten some reps punting the ball during camp, but Epitropoulos is still going to get a chance to play receiver. He’s taller than a guy like Dane Sanzenbacher, but a similar frame.
5. Pat Elflein (6-3, 290, OL): Another guy battling injuries. We haven’t seen much of Elflein, who can play guard or center.
6. Blake Thomas (6-3, 238, TE): The Buckeyes already have some good tight ends ahead of Thomas. Moving Jake Stoneburner to receiver should get him a few extra reps, but he’s not going to pass Heuerman or Vannett.
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