The Redshirt is Alive and Well At OSU Despite the Rhetoric to the Contrary
By Patrick Murphy
“We don’t always redshirt at Ohio State, but when we do, we don’t announce it.”
This seems to be the unofficial philosophy for Urban Meyer and his staff.
Photo by Dan Harker
Since Meyer took over after the 2011 season, he and his staff have recruited some of the best players in the country to Ohio State with the idea, according to Meyer, that they do not redshirt.
This statement actually means that they do not bring a recruit in with the intent to redshirt him. They bring everyone in to contribute from day one.
The Buckeye coaches use this assertion to sell recruits on the chance to play early. If you are good enough to get on the field then you will.
The truth is though, not every high school senior – no matter the star ranking associated with him – is ready to play as soon as they step on campus, so some of them are candidates to redshirt.
Cardale Jones, Tyvis Powell, Warren Ball, Frank Epitropoulos, Pat Elflein, Kyle Dodson, and Blake Thomas are all redshirt freshman on the this year’s roster giving themnot only experience in the program, but also an extra year of eligibility.
Photo by Jim Davidson
In Ohio State’s 76-0 win over Florida A&M the majority of the roster saw the field, yet there were some noticeable absentees. Walk-ons Kato Mitchell and Devonte Butler both took snaps in the later stages of the game, while scholarship players Jalin Marshall and Bri’onte Dunn remained on the sideline.
"I think both Bri'onte and Jalin, Michael Thomas, Corey Smith, a junior college player, are just names off the top of my head; they're on call,” Meyer said after the game. “They're ready to go but they won't be used in mop‑up time.”
With the score 55-0 at halftime, there was no doubting the outcome of Saturday’s contest. Meyer used the second half to get players that he believes will be used this year some in-game experience.
It also allowed the players who work hard on scout team to experience playing the college game, something they may not get again.
For those who did not play, it is not a reflection on their ability, but rather the coaching staff making decisions for the future.
“We don't really red shirt but there are some guys that could be fine players down the road that I just didn't want to burn a year to get them 5 or 10 plays so that's the decision we made,” Meyer said post game.
At Ohio State, they don’t really redshirt, except when they do.
Dunn is in his second year at Ohio State and played sparingly in 2012. He carried the ball for 133 yards and two touchdowns, but has yet to see the field in 2013.
Photo by Dan Harker
Marshall is a freshman who missed time during camp due to concussion issues. The coaching staff has liked what they have seen from quarterback turned wide receiver, but acknowledged that the injury set him back some.
Michael Thomas is sophomore receiver who is still finding his way. For his career he has three catches for 22 yards. He is a player many were excited about at the beginning of the season due to his raw attributes and strong showing in the spring game.
Corey Smith came to Ohio State the JUCO route, transferring from East Mississippi C.C.
The coaching staff could have put these players in the Florida A&M game, but that would end the possibility of a redshirt.
With the depth at both the running back and wide receiver position, it makes sense for the coaches to save who they can for an extra year, though they can still be used if needed this season.
There are others as well beyond the four Meyer listed.
Freshman linebacker and five-star recruit Mike Mitchell is yet to see the field this season.
“Sometimes those young guys, their opportunities are going to arise at certain times,” co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell said when asked about Mitchell.
“And then just like last week, you have a situation, do you want to really put a guy in in that situation, or do you try to hold him and not know, you know, what the future holds, as a redshirt or something like that.”
A redshirt or something; still noncommittal at Ohio State.
“There's a few guys, we have about six of those guys that we had highlighted, that we were going to hold and if we have to, we'll go ahead and put them in,” Fickell continued.
“But for right now, the situation has not arisen or really come up that we have to have him. But it's still a lot, [Mitchell] still takes reps with us. He still gets the best of both worlds right now, and he's willing and able and the opportunity has to arise.”
Meyer confirmed that freshman wide receiver James Clark will be redshirted, but that is due to a leg injury suffered in the second half of the game.
Players want to play and fans want to see the young players early, but the coaches are focused on doing what is best for the team in the present while keeping an eye on the future as well . They don’t want to lose a year with a player because they used him unnecessarily.