Fall Practice Insider: It's Mr. Wilson's Turn to be the Menace
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — There has already been plenty of talk about freshman playmaker Dontre Wilson, and for good reason. On Wednesday, however, it was no longer just the talk running rampant, as Wilson was running rampant as well.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Wilson began his day with the wide receivers in drills, and then switched over to the running backs halfway through. During the receiver drills, he was snatching the ball out of the air and catching everything thrown to him.
During the scrimmage portion, Wilson was used solely as a receiver, but he was absolutely effective and electric. Twice he caught touchdowns on wheel routes, the second of which appeared to be overthrown by about seven yards, but Wilson caught up with it in the back of the endzone.
He also caught a pass in the flats, allowed two defenders to run into eachother, then raced down the sideline for about 30 yards for another touchdown, beating two defenders who had angles.
Wilson got a couple of snaps with the first team, but worked mainly with the second team. When he was in there, quarterback Kenny Guiton locked onto him, waiting for the freshman flash to break open. In fact, the one time Guiton never looked Wilson's way ended up being an interception by Bradley Roby.
Wilson also appeared to be the number one kick returner, though it's hard to say how definite this is. He was teamed up with freshman tailback Ezekiel Elliott in one return unit, and Rod Smith was teamed up with freshman receiver Jalin Marshall in the second unit.
After practice, Christian Bryant said that Wilson is a special player, saying that he was fast and elusive, and that he just has a lot of attributes to help the team.
More Than Just a One Freshman Town
While Wilson was the talk of the practice, he was not the only freshman who stood out. Jalin Marshall worked in the slot with the second team and looked extremely comfortable running inside routes and finding open pockets. Guiton was also looking for Marshall as often as he could.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Marshall caught a touchdown pass during redzone drills and it was no big deal to him. Bryant called him a "strong, fast" player, mentioning that he can produce anywhere on the field.
Ezekiel Elliott first caught my eye in the one-on-one pass rushing drills against the linebackers. He was tenacious on every snap, planting freshman linebacker Darron Lee violently into the ground early on. He blocked until the whistle, and probably a split second afterward as well.
He showed some very nice moves in some of the scrimmaging, displaying an ability to bounce it out instantly. However, he's also a very tough runner, and overall he seemed to just have a little bit of good anger to him. He is a hard-nosed player.
Quarterback J.T. Barrett went through all of the drills, just like he did in the spring, but he still isn't taking part in any scrimmaging. They don't need to rush him along at this point, however, it will be interesting to see if he eventually gets into the mix with Cardale Jones.
Tight end Marcus Baugh practiced, and was bigger and stronger than I expected. He had a reputation as a tight end that can move, but he showed more power than agility today when he caught a pass in the flats and rumbled into the endzone from about 10 yards out.
Unfortunately, the ball popped out as he hit the goal line, and tight ends coach Tim Hinton was on him instantly, yelling that the ball "can never come out".
Photo by Jim Davidson
James Clark and junior college transfer Corey Smith got mixed in with the second team, though they didn't really do much at receiver, but that's because the quarterbacks were always looking for Wilson and Marshall.
The first team was as it has been since the spring (with the exception of tailback), with several players rotating in and out. Rod Smith, Jordan Hall and Bri'onte Dunn all received snaps at first-team tailback, though Smith received more.
Warren Ball, Ezekiel Elliott, Dontre Wilson and Carlos Hyde brought up the rear in drills.
Ball had a very nice touchdown on a catch in the flats. Freshman nickel back Vonn Bell hit him around the five yard line, but Ball carried him into the endzone, and that was with freshman linebacker Mike Mitchell jumping on at around the three-yard line.
When the offense went three and four receivers, Chris Fields and Evan Spencer joined Philly Brown and Devin Smith. They all performed very well.
Braxton Miller had an up and down day. The intermediate passes were high, low and in between. He did show some very nice touch on his deep passes, however.
The second team of receivers were basically everyone else who didn't get snaps with the first team, including Michael Thomas.
Nick Vannett and Jeff Heuerman rotated with the first team, which they will do for the rest of their careers. Heuerman was terrific in the redzone, catching a pair of touchdowns on slants. Vannett also had a touchdown in the redzone, taking a vicious hit from freshman safety Chris Worley in the process. Worley was flagged for targeting, but not ejected. Replay must have overturned it.
The offensive line had to do some shuffling today as Corey Linsley didn't do much at center, and Andrew Norwell limped off early on with an injury. Jacoby Boren took over at center, and Patrick Elflein slid in at guard. Chase Farris also got time at left guard with the ones. There weren't many tackles in the backfield on running plays, so they apparently did well enough.
Here's what the offensive line depth chart looked like, prior to the injury (no update on the injury, by the way):
LT - Jack Mewhort / Kyle Dodson / Logan Gaskey
LG - Andrew Norwell / Chase Farris / Patrick Elflein / Erik Kramer
C - Jacoby Boren / Patrick Elflein
RG - Marcus Hall / Tommy Brown / Ivon Blackman
RT - Taylor Decker / Darryl Baldwin / Ben St. John
Freshman Evan Lisle didn't get much work. Ed Warinner said earlier in the week that he's not going to put any pressure on Lisle this early.
As far as the tight ends are concerned, Marcus Baugh caught more passes than Blake Thomas.
Emptying the Notebook
+ This wasn't Carlos Hyde's best practice. It's difficult to get much of a gauge on the running backs this early, but he dropped a couple of passes on the day and seemed frustrated with himself. He also got thrown down in the pass rush drill by walk-on linebacker Craig Cataline. It wouldn't be a stretch to say that the suspension and what caused it has already had its toll on Hyde.
+ Wide receiver Jeff Greene, who is sitting out this season after transferring from Georgia Tech, looked every bit of the 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds he is listed at. He is walking on and plans to earn a scholarship down the road. He certainly looks like a Big Ten receiver.
+ The one-on-one pass rush drills between the running backs and linebackers produced a pair of matchups between Ryan Shazier and Rod Smith. The first was an embarrassment for Smith, as Shazier went untouched with a quick jump inside. The next time, however, Smith stoned him, standing him up for the entire ride. The whistle blew and Smith celebrated like he just scored a touchdown.
+ It was not a great day for Nick Vannett in those one-on-one drills as Shazier and Joshua Perry beat him on consecutive snaps. Freshman linebacker Darron Lee got around him as well.
+ Kenny Guiton was throwing the ball very well, which means his hand looked completely healthy following his recent injury. He threw the first wheel route touchdown pass to Dontre Wilson, then ran into the endzone to celebrate with him.
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