Five for Friday: Freshmen in openers.

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Last updated: 08/23/2013 0:50 AM
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Football
Five for Friday: Freshmen and the Last Five Openers
By Tony Gerdeman

Earlier in the week I was asked on our forum how many freshmen I thought would play in the opener next week. Before I could given an educated answer, however, I thought it would best to look back at recent history and see how many freshmen had played in past openers.

I went back and looked at the last five openers and found that Luke Fickell and Urban Meyer were much more liberal with the usage of freshmen than Jim Tressel was in his final three seasons.

In 2008, 2009 and 2010, Tressel played a total of 20 freshmen in the openers. However, Fickell and Meyer combined to play 26 freshmen in the 2011 and 2012 openers.

After crunching the numbers, which I have laid out for everyone below, I am expecting at least a dozen freshmen to see the field against Buffalo, and possibly even more than the 14 that saw it last year against Miami, Oh.

1. The 2008 Class (20 Freshmen) | 7 played in the opener
The "Brew Crew" was one of Ohio State's most-heralded classes in recent memory. Scout ranked it the #4 class in the nation. Despite the accolades, only seven freshmen played in the 43-0 season-opening win against Youngstown State.

Here are the freshmen who played in that game:

Devier Posey
Lamaar Thomas
Terrelle Pryor
Etienne Sabino
Mike Brewster
Mike Adams
J.B. Shugarts

Who stood out? Well, Terrelle Pryor's debut was effective, but not spectacular. He rushed for 52 yards on nine carries, including an 18-yard touchdown run. He finished 4-6 passing for 35 yards. Devier Posey caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Todd Boeckman, and led the team with four receptions (47 yards). The first freshman receiver to touch the ball, however, was Lamaar Thomas. He finished with one catch for nine yards.

2. The 2009 Class (24 Freshmen) | 7 played in the opener
The nation's top recruiting class according to Scout. One year after landing the Brew Crew, Jim Tressel one-upped himself by signing seven Top 100 players, and three-five star prospects. However, even with the lofty praise of the experts, only seven freshmen found themselves on the field in the 31-27 win over Navy to open the season. Perhaps more would have played had the Buckeyes not been playing Navy's funky offense and the game not been so close.

Here are the freshmen who played in that game:

Zach Boren
Duron Carter
Storm Klein
Adam Homan
John Simon
Reid Fragel
C.J. Barnett

Zach Boren got the start for the Buckeyes, leading the way for a combined 125 yards rushing by Boom Herron and Brandon Saine. However, the only Buckeye freshman to record a statistic other than "Participation", was Duron Carter, who caught three passes for 21 yards. Let this be a reminder that early results do not always indicate future results.

3. The 2010 Class (19 Freshmen) | 6 played in opener
The ugly duckling of Ohio State classes as far as the recruiting rankings are concerned. Scout ranked this class #20 in the nation, behind such powerhouses as Oklahoma State, Pittsburgh, and Ole Miss. This wasn't a great class, but Tressel certainly hit some home runs with the likes of three-star guys Bradley Roby and Johnathan Hankins, as well as key figures like Christian Bryant, Andrew Norwell, Philly Brown, Carlos Hyde and Drew Basil. Still, it took them all a bit to develop, which is one reason why they had such little production in the 45-7 win over Marshall to open the 2010 season.

Here are the freshmen who played in that game:

Christian Bryant
Corey “Philly” Brown
Carlos Hyde
Drew Basil
Johnathan Hankins
Andrew Norwell

The most productive freshman on the day was Philly Brown, who had a catch for two yards, and a punt return for 11 yards. Carlos Hyde had a four-yard carry and nothing else. Johnathan Hankins assisted on a tackle. All in all, a very quiet debut for a class that had some huge misses, yet also some huge hits.

4. The 2011 Class (22 Freshmen) | 12 played in opener
What a year 2011 was. It was Luke Fickell's audition for his football future, and he had to turn to twice as many freshmen as Jim Tressel did the year before. But at least Tressel left Fickell the #6 class in the nation before he left voluntarily for a job with the Indianapolis Colts (or something like that). A dozen Buckeyes played in the opener, and half of them actually had some say in their 42-0 win over Akron.

Here are the freshmen who played in that game:

Ryan Shazier
Evan Spencer
Braxton Miller
Joel Hale
Jeff Heuerman
Steve Miller
Doran Grant
Devin Smith
DerJuan Gambrell
Brian Bobek
Michael Bennett
Antonio Underwood

That's a lot of names, and none of them stood out more than Braxton Miller, who completed 8-12 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed six times for 30 yards. Devin Smith had three catches for 52 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown. Evan Spencer had a 33-yard catch, and Ryan Shazier did what he does best, notching two tackles for loss and a sack. Michael Bennett also had a sack, and Doran Grant finished with three tackles.

5. The 2012 Class (25 Freshmen) | 14 played in opener
The Buckeyes closed very well in the 2012 class thanks to Urban Meyer, and he wasted no time in getting his new signees on the field. Over half of his class saw the field in the opening day win over Miami, Oh. While he would liked to have added a couple of impact freshmen on offense, he did pretty well on the defensive side of the ball, which is something to keep in mind when wondering how the 2013 defense is going to perform.

Here are the freshmen who played in that game:

Camren Williams
Joshua Perry
Najee Murray
David Perkins
Armani Reeves
Jamal Marcus
Jacoby Boren
Noah Spence
Bri'onte Dunn
Devan Bogard
Taylor Decker
Michael Thomas
Tommy Schutt
Adolphus Washington

Much of the playing time for these freshmen came on special teams, but a few of them got some true action at the line of scrimmage. Both Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington had sacks in the game, and Tommy Schutt finished with three tackles. Bri'onte Dunn rushed seven times for 31 times, including a four-yard touchdown run. Najee Murray and Joshua Perry finished with two tackles, and Jamal Marcus added one. Cornerback Armani Reeves was the team's opening day kick returner, and he ended up with two returns for 45 yards, with a long of 26 yards.

Will there be some performances next week to top the ones mentioned above? I would say so. And if not, there will likely be some very disappointed Buckeye fans (as well as a very disappointed Buckeye head coach.)

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