Six to watch on offense

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Last updated: 08/25/2013 5:01 PM
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Six Untested or Unheralded Buckeyes You'll Want to Watch on Offense in 2013
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Over the last month we gave your our Top 20 Most Important Buckeyes, but that doesn't mean there's only 20 players who could have landed on that list. With that in mind, we wanted to give you a few more players to keep an eye on this season.

This is a brand new year with an intriguing quantity of underused (or unused) talent. Each of the players mentioned below will have moments this season, which is why we wanted to talk about them one last time before the season gets going.

There could be a dozen names in addition to these, which is the type of problem that most coaches would cut their own son to have.

Warren Ball
Photo by Jim Davidson
Waren Ball

Warren Ball, Running Back (Redshirt Freshman)
Lost in the mix of all of the talk about Carlos Hyde, Rod Smith, Jordan Hall and Dontre Wilson is the fact that the Buckeyes are going to be breaking in some new running backs right away, and Warren Ball will be one of them. When we saw him in the spring, he was productive and impressive every single time out. The one time we saw him this summer, he carried two men into the endzone on a swing pass. Running backs coach Stan Drayton said that he may be the best open-field runner of the returnees, and defensive players have told us that he's been effective in camp. He's a big back with big-play capability, and he's improving his versatility like Drayton wanted both he and Bri'onte Dunn to do.

Evan Spencer, Wide Receiver (Junior)
Evan Spencer has received more talk of late simply because everybody at Ohio State is talking about him. He's one of the Buckeyes' top three receivers, and given that they'll be in a ton of three-receiver sets, Spencer is going to be heavily involved in this improved passing game. We've already seen his hands on display over his first two years, but he is now a more well-rounded receiver who is looking to move past any thought that he is just a possession receiver.

Nick Vannett
Photo by Jim Davidson
Nick Vannett

Nick Vannett, Tight End (Redshirt Sophomore)
When Urban Meyer and Tom Herman tout the Ohio State tight ends, Jeff Heuerman is one reason why, but Nick Vannett is the other. He may not be the blocker that Heuerman is, but he can get upfield and run very well for a man who is 6-foo-6 and 250 pounds. With this being a very multiple offense, there will be some two tight end sets, and Vannett will be causing problems for whomever is tasked with defending him.

Marcus Hall, Offensive Guard (Senior)
Every coach on offense can go on and on about the strides that Marcus Hall has made since last season. He's no longer the Ringo of the Mewhort, Norwell and Linsley Beatles. With a new starter in Taylor Decker at right tackle, and Hall standing right next to him, there is quite a bit of pressure on the right side of the offensive line. Entering the spring, if there was a weak spot on the line, it would have been the right side. Now, after both Hall and Decker have earned raves every step of the way, the only weakness to this offensive line would appear to be Corey Linsley's recovering foot.

Jalin Marshall
Photo by Jim Davidson
Jalin Marshall

Jalin Marshall, Wide Receiver (Freshman)
Not that Jalin Marshall hasn't been talked about, but he needs mentioned on this list simply because the Buckeyes don't really have anybody else like him. Granted, Chris Fields will play in the slot, as will Marshall, but nobody has Marshall's ability to break tackles and fight for extra yards. He is strong for a slot receiver, and given his background as an option quarterback, his Spidey sense is legit. He can make people miss without even seeing where they're coming from. He's played well in camp, and that should extend right into the season as well.

Ezekiel Elliott, Running Back (Freshman)
Urban Meyer has already said that Ezekiel Elliott is going to play this season, which is why his name bears mentioning. He's extremely fast, but he's not just a speed back. He will be given a chance in the opener, and if he produces, then he will continue to get opportunities. He is also a fantastic receiver out of the backfield and will be a mismatch against linebackers. Elliott is just one more weapon for Tom Herman, which is why Herman has also warned that he has to be careful to stick to what the Buckeyes do well, and not get distracted by all of the new wrinkles on offense. The good thing for Elliott is that he's versatile enough to do whatever the Buckeyes want.

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