COLUMBUS, Ohio — Everything is hype, even if it isn't.
Curtis Samuel Turning Heads, Readers Beware
By Tony Gerdeman
Once a word is spoken, typed or telepathed, hype is born.
It suckles at the teat of tout, and floats effortlessly from ear to ear, like a full-throated Tarzan swinging from vine to vine.
Even a whisper warbles on the wind when warm words are spoken of certain subjects. At times, it is welcomed and favorable. At other times, however, there can be no greater curse wished upon an individual.
A season ago that individual was freshman Dontre Wilson. The excitement began when the dynamic speedster signed with Ohio State. He built upon that excitement by turning heads for the Buckeyes in fall practice. Wilson made plays nearly every day, and because of that he was subjected to being a subject.
Players and coaches talked about him, so reporters wrote about him. Then the reporters saw him for themselves and we wrote about him some more.
The whispers became waves and their destination was everywhere.
The expectations for Wilson last year were fueled by the excitement generated from the reports of Wilson's exploits in practice.
In other words, hype.
The fact that many believe that he didn't live up to those expectations has brought resentment to both Wilson and the hype. It has also brought disdain and distrust to anything else written about him.
It doesn't matter that the reports were true. Nor does it matter that Wilson was learning a new position last year. The only thing that matters was that Dontre Wilson wasn't what some believed he was billed to be.
No matter that billing, however, the one thing that Wilson always was, was a freshman. A rookie. Just as prone to mistakes as flashes, which also kept him on the bench as much as it kept him on the field.
Now there is a new freshman who is making a bit of noise for the Buckeyes, and to save him from the same type of backlash that followed Wilson, I almost don't want to write about him.
But that's not how hype works.
Curtis Samuel, a running back out of Brooklyn, New York, hasn't been healthy for every practice this spring. When he has been, however, he has made plays worth talking about.
And so I am talking about him.
Never mind that he might already be the fastest player on the team, he is currently the fifth-string tailback for the Buckeyes. Generally the fifth-string running back doesn't warrant much mention. The only problem with that, however, is that the coaches keep mentioning him.
On Tuesday Urban Meyer said that Samuel "had a really good day". According to Ohio State, one play after being decleated on a swing pass, Samuel broke a tackle and then ran into freshman middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan with such force that he separated McMillan from his helmet.
Samuel's name just continues popping up this spring, and it's not because he's being asked about by the media. His name is being freely offered up because of the plays that he is making. He makes plays, and coaches and players talk about them.
Is that hype, or is that simply what is happening?
Meyer has called him "electric fast", and on Signing Day, running backs coach Stan Drayton said that Samuel "brings speed to our backfield that I don't believe we've had since I've been here."
Is that hype, or is that two coaches' excitement at the prospects of what Samuel could become? Or is it maybe both?
Drayton also says that Samuel has "shown some unbelievable flashes of being a dynamic football player."
That doesn't mean constant, and that doesn't mean consistent. All it means is that Curtis Samuel would seem to have a bright future.
But the thing about futures is that sometimes you have to wait for them to be realized, whether you want to or not.
Based on the early returns, Samuel will be given a chance to make some plays on the field this fall. If he doesn't make every play, however, please go easy on him.
After all, he's just a freshman and freshmen rarely live up to the hype.
Even if the hype is absolutely true.
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