Instant Impact: Five Players Who Should See Time on Offense
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Yesterday we took a closer look at seven kids from Ohio State’s 2013 recruiting class who could see the field early as rookies this fall on offense.
The class itself was more heavily weighted to that side of the ball, with kids like Trey Johnson, Mike Mitchell and Vonn Bell all coming aboard late in the process. The Buckeyes ended up with 15 signatures from the defensive side of the ball in 24-man class and only nine on offense.
At least five of those nine have a chance to make an early impact in Columbus. Here’s a look at those five guys from the 2013 class to keep an eye on in 2013.
WR Jalin Marshall (5-11, 195, Middletown)
Think how good Ohio State might have been in 2012 if they could have had two Braxton Miller’s on the field at the same time? That might not be far off from what the Buckeyes are getting in Jalin Marshall. He doesn’t have Braxton’s passing ability, but he is a shifty runner who possesses elite top-end speed and the ability to make guys miss in the open field. Based on the way Meyer has spoken of Marshall this past week, it would be surprising if he didn’t get every opportunity to see the field in the all. He put up nearly 5,000 all-purpose yards and 54 touchdowns at Middletown this past season.
WR/RB Dontre Wilson (5-10, 175, DeSoto, Tex.)
If Marshall isn’t on the field a bunch as a rookie in 2013, it’s probably because he is competing with Dontre Wilson for that pivot role in Meyer’s offense. The 4-star running back out of Texas is a perfect fit for the role Percy Harvin played in Meyer’s offense at Florida. That’s not saying Wilson will be the next Harvin, but he’s got something to shoot for. Like Harvin, and Marshall, he is a compact runner with breakaway speed and tremendous shake to his game. Urban Meyer will work closely with Wilson in the fall as he tries to develop into that dynamic playmaker the Buckeyes were lacking during the 2012 season. Wilson put up 2,600 yards of offense and scored 46 TDs in one of the toughest divisions of Texas high school football this past year. He should also get a chance to be a return man for the Buckeyes in 2013.
WR James Clark (5-11, 185, New Smyrna Beach, Fla.)
Talk about fast. Do yourself a favor and grab some popcorn and soda before you sit down to watch Clark’s high school highlight film. It’s kids like this where the state of Florida gets its reputation for producing speed you just can’t find most other places. Clark averaged over 22 yards per catch as a senior for New Smyrna Beach High School last year and he has the ability to play inside at the hybrid pivot spot or outside as a speed receiver who can stretch the field vertically. That’s something the Buckeyes need more of, in addition to true slot guys like Wilson and Marshall. Clark had 49 receptions for 1,112 yards and eight touchdowns last season. He is also a top-end sprinter, who ran a 10.71 in the 100-meter dash at the 2012 Florida outdoor state track championships.
WR Corey Smith (6-0, 170, Akron Buchtel)
Smith was recently listed as one of the top JUCO prospects to watch this season by Athlon Sports, and he is a guy who could make an instant impact when he gets to Columbus. The former Akron Buchtel standout has had two years of junior college ball to sharpen his skills and he comes in as a more ready-made player than some of the other true freshmen on this list. He’s also a different type of player. He’s not a speed guy, per se, who Meyer would put in the slot and try to get him the ball in multiple different ways. Smith is more of an outside receiver who can go up and get it. He’s probably not as fast as Devin Smith, but Corey Smith is a kid who is known for making tough catches in traffic. He’s a tremendous route runner who caught 51 passes for 733 yards and nine touchdowns at East Mississippi Community College last year.
RB Ezekiel Elliott (6-0, 200, St. Louis, Mo.)
The only thing that probably keeps Elliott from being an instant impact guy right away is the fact Ohio State is loaded at the tailback position right now. While Wilson and Marshall are being brought in to play that hybrid pivot position, Elliott is going to be a true tailback for the Buckeyes. Urban Meyer recently called him the team’s “running back of the future” but he’s walking into a situation at Ohio State where he will be competing with guys like Carlos Hyde, Rod Smith, Bri’onte Dunn and Warren Ball. Elliott does bring a little something different to the table. He’s a little bit more explosive than those guys, at least in terms of being able to make guys miss in the open field. Elliott was an unstoppable force at John Burroughs High School this past year, putting up 3,061 all-purpose yards and 50 touchdowns, including 2,155 rush yards, and 40 rushing touchdowns for the 13-1 Class 3 state runner-up. He also rushed for 1,802 yards and 34 touchdowns as a junior, to go with nearly 40 catches and 800 yards as a receiver over the past two seasons. That’s one area where he could give Ohio State a different look with his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.
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