Buckeyes Welcome 16 Newcomers Into the Fold
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — After adding six new freshmen back in January, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer welcomed three more players from the class of 2012 to his roster in the spring.
That included offensive tackle Taylor Decker — who is already competing for a starting spot on the offensive line — along with defensive end Se’Von Pittman and linebacker Luke Roberts.
They joined a group of their classmates already in Columbus, including quarterback Cardale Jones, wideout Michael Thomas, tailback Bri’onte Dunn and lineman Jacoby Boren for the start of spring practice back in April.
Now the entire recruiting class will be reunited — or really united — for the first time at Ohio State as the 16 remaining members of the class join the fold for the Summer classes — and the start of semesters at Ohio State.
Most of the players moved in over the weekend, and with classes beginning today, here is a look at who Meyer and strength coach Mickey Marotti are adding to the mix this summer.
INSTANT IMPACT POTENTIAL
DE Noah Spence (6-4, 245, Harrisburg, Pa.) — Not only was Spence one of the top-rated high school players in the country at any position, but he plays a position of critical need for Ohio State. The Buckeyes are deep along their defensive front, except at Leo, where they were unable to successfully handle the loss of Nathan Williams a year ago.
DE Adolphus Washington (6-4, 230, Cincinnati Taft) — Washington is such a massive kid, he could ultimately grow into a guy who spends most of his time playing inside at the 3-technique position. The scary part is, he could also play the Leo spot if needed. That’s how athletic he is, and he’s also one of the best pure pass-rushing prospects in the country.
LB David Perkins (6-2, 225, South Bend, Ind.) — It’s always more difficult to project linebackers early on than it is defensive linemen — just as we learned with Curtis Grant last year — but the Buckeyes really need some playmakers. They have very little depth behind the top three guys, so Perkins should get an opportunity early in fall camp.
LB Camren Williams (6-2, 215, West Roxbury, Mass.) — The same goes for Williams, who could ultimately play either outside linebacker spot for the Buckeyes down the road, depending on where they like his skill sets best. In fact, both Perkins and Williams could play their way into the two-deep, that’s how thin OSU is at outside linebacker right now.
LB Jamal Marcus (6-2, 230, Durham, N.C.) — Marcus is a bit of an unknown in the class, or at least he was before Meyer raved about his highlight tape on National Signing Day. It will be good to see him in person this fall, but Marcus could play Sam linebacker or even Leo, depending on where they see him down the line.
CB Armani Reeves (5-9, 185, West Roxbury, Mass.) — The Buckeyes desperately need depth at corner behind Roby, Howard and Grant. Reeves is just the type of athletic player who could step in and fill that void. No guarantees he is a better player than Najee Murray or Tyvis Powell, but he’s more of the traditional cover corner OSU needs.
NEEDS TO SHOW SOMETHING
DB De’van Bogard (5-11, 172, Cleveland Glenville) — Having played mostly linebacker in high school, Bogard is rather raw when it comes to playing defensive back, which will ultimately be his permanent position at the college level. Bogard has a lot of work to do in pass coverage, but he is a ferocious hitter who could follow Christian Bryant’s footsteps at the “Star” position early in his career.
OT Kyle Dodson (6-6, 315, Cleveland Heights) — Dodson is pretty close to being on the “Instant Impact” list, if for no other reason than Ohio State’s lack of depth on the offensive line—specifically at offensive tackle. The emergence of Taylor Decker may give Dodson some time to develop, as he is much more of a raw project with great potential.
DB Najee Murray (5-11, 172, Steubenville) — Like Bogard, Murray is a kid who likes to hit first and then worry about the rest. He packs a lot of wallop in his little frame, but he’s going to have to learn to cover speedy receivers at the college level to play corner. That’s where he will start, and that’s probably his only real position at the next level, although Bryant did make the transition to a deep safety despite his lack of size.
OL Joey O’Connor (6-4, 295, Windsor, Colo.) — O’Connor is another kid who will be asked to come in and provide depth immediately for the Buckeyes on the offensive line. He can play guard and center, but probably ends up at guard long-term. They need some guys behind Andrew Norwell and Marcus Hall.
DT Tommy Schutt (6-3, 301, Glen Ellyn, Ill.) — The Buckeyes have a lot of options at defensive tackle this fall, which is the major reason Schutt didn’t make the “Instant Impact” list despite being a 300-pound defensive tackle. We need to see how Schutt transitions, but keep an eye on him in the rotation.
WR Ricquan Southward (6-2, 190, Lakeland, Fla.) — Southward is one of the most intriguing prospects in the entire class. He didn’t play much as an underclassman and then exploded onto the recruiting scene as a senior. He has excellent size and speed, and could be a playmaker for Meyer if he can pick up the offense.
NEVER SAY NEVER
RB Warren Ball (6-2, 200, Columbus DeSales) — A few years ago, Ball would probably be the No. 3 back for Ohio State, despite coming after the end of spring practice. As it stands, he will be the No. 5 back behind some other big guys who can move. He’s talented, but has a lot of ground to make up.
OL Pat Elflein (6-3, 285, Pickerington North) — Elflein should provide some much-needed depth at interior offensive line, but we need to see him against top-notch competition before it’s clear where he fits and how soon he can work his way into the mix.
WR Frank Epitropoulos (6-3, 195, Upper Arlington) — A pulled hamstring kept Epitropoulos out of the Big 33 game this past weekend. While he should be healed and ready to go for fall camp, he has an uphill climb with Corey Brown and Chris Fields already playing in the slot.
TE Blake Thomas (6-4, 240, Cleveland St. Ignatius) — Thomas is a player who should be able to adjust to Meyer’s wide-open style of attack on offense, but he is behind a trio of talented guys at the tight end position.
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