Redshirt Forecast Part I: Look for Me on Saturdays
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — It is officially game week, which means that it's time to take a stab at forecasting which freshmen will see the field, which freshmen may see the field, and which freshmen will be best served by taking a redshirt.
Urban Meyer likes to say that they don't redshirt freshmen at Ohio State, and that's a nice attitude to have, but it's just not going to work like that. For instance, barring injuries, there is no reason to play quarterback J.T. Barrett this year, unless the staff knows that this is Braxton Miller's last season.
Obviously, when you sign players, you want them to be able to help you immediately. But the truth is that not every freshman is going to be ready to see the field in their first year. In fact, you'd be doing both them and the team a disservice by rushing any player who isn't ready.
Today, however, we'll talk about the freshmen who won't be needing those redshirts this year.
Photo by Dan Harker
15 RB Ezekiel Elliott (6-0 210, St. Louis, Missouri)
Elliott is up to 220 pounds according to his dad and ran a 4.33 at freshman testing. There will always be a place for somebody like that in Urban Meyer's offense. He can catch the ball out of the backfield, or pound the ball up the middle in OSU's power spread running game. He might just be the perfect running back for this offense.
1 RB Dontre Wilson (5-10 174, DeSoto, Texas)
At this point, if Wilson isn't on the field during Ohio State's first series, the fans may get unruly and begin to throw their $6 bottles of water at Meyer on the sidelines. Fortunately for Meyer, assuming Ohio State gets the ball first against Buffalo, Wilson should be the first Buckeye to touch the football this season. If he doesn't house it, some will be disappointed. If he does house it, however, then about 70,000 men will have instantly become pregnant.
Photo by Dan Harker
17 WR Jalin Marshall (6-0 190, Middletown, Ohio)
Marshall has found a spot in this offense as a slot receiver. He may not be out there on the first series, but he'll get plenty of snaps, and should be extremely clever with the ball. He's strong for a freshman, and he doesn't mind contact. He can snatch the ball and get low, which allows him to avoid the contact that so frequently finds slot receivers.
7 DB Vonn Bell (6-1 190, Rossville, Georgia)
The assumption is that if you're a freshman defensive back, then you better find your way onto a kick coverage team. Expect Bell to be one of Kerry Coombs' piranhas, and then expect him to get a few series throughout as the nickel back. We have to assume that the plan is for Bell to get quite a few snaps from scrimmage because they'll want him to get a good, long look at real life college football.
Photo by Dan Harker
44 LB Mike Mitchell (6-4 225, Plano, Texas)
Mitchell is currently Curtis Grant's backup at middle linebacker, so he'll find his way into a series here or there as well. Given his speed, however, he would also seem to be a perfect candidate for kick coverage. The coaches said that Mitchell had hit a bit of a wall a week or so ago, but that won't keep him from seeing action very early.
19 CB Gareon Conley (6-2 170, Massillon, Ohio)
With Bradley Roby's suspension and Armani Reeves nursing an injury a couple of weeks ago, it was Conley who was running with the first team during practice. Obviously, he is not with the first team right now, but that should give you an indication as to how the staff feels about him. He'll be on kick coverage as well.
Photo by Dan Harker
13 CB Eli Apple (6-1 188, Voorhees, New Jersey)
Apple spent all spring working with the twos at cornerback. Right now, however, he may be fighting to get back there. Kerry Coombs has said all along that Apple will play this year, but expect his first experience to come on special teams. However, with Roby out, everybody moves up a rung, and Apple and Conley, as well as Cameron Burrows, should all expect to see time at corner against Buffalo.
16 CB Cameron Burrows (6-0 202, Trotwood, Ohio)
Like Apple, Burrows worked with the second team throughout the spring as well. He is currently fighting for the dime spot with Corey Brown and Devan Bogard. Coombs has also said all along that Burrows will play this season. Given that Burrows is working at two spots, the coaches obviously have confidence in him. However, given that he's working at two spots, does that mean he's behind both Conley and Apple right now at cornerback?
Photo by Jim Davidson
77 DT Michael Hill (6-2 305, Pendleton, South Carolina)
Hill should see some action pretty early this year after having a very strong first camp. Even though it's Joel Hale and Tommy Schutt battling for the nose tackle spot, Hill will get plenty of opportunities. Much of Mike Vrabel's rotation will be dictated by Hill's play. If he can show that the team misses him when he's not in there, then he'll obviously get more snaps.
97 DE Joey Bosa (6-5 270, Fort Lauderdale, Florida)
Bosa will be one of Adolphus Washington's backups, and it sounds like he'll be in Vrabel's rotation. He is a physical pass rusher who is already big enough to hold the edge on the strong side. He is also working at tackle on certain passing downs. Clearly, the staff is looking for ways to get him on the field. If he holds up during non-conference play, then he'll see action throughout the entire season.
95 P Cameron Johnston (5-11 190, Geelong, Australia)
Cameron Johnston will likely see the field the very first time the Buckeyes have an unsuccessful drive. (Which may or may not happen against Buffalo.) He brings versatility to the punting game, as he is very familiar with all types of running kicks, but he also has a very big leg, so he's also skilled at the standard punt that you've grown to know and love.
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