COLUMBUS, Ohio — While the Ohio State defense will be going through its various overhauls, people might expect the Buckeye offense to just continue humming along. That may very well happen, but not without some young players stepping up this season.
Instant Impact: Five New Buckeyes Who Should Immediately See the Field on Offense
By Tony Gerdeman
Urban Meyer and his coaches once again targeted speed in this recruiting class, but they also made sure to hit the offensive line hard. Meyer said on Wednesday that of the five offensive linemen that they signed, he expected two of them to be somewhere on the depth chart immediately.
With having to replace offensive skill leaders like Carlos Hyde and Philly Brown, there will also be opportunities for the speed that Ohio State brought in as well. Which of these freshmen will make the most of their opportunities? Let's take a look.
1. WR - Johnnie Dixon
Johnnie Dixon enrolled early for a reason, and it's because he is on a quest to do everything that he can to become a great wide receiver. It's that mentality that is necessary to put in the work that Dixon is currently involved in. He will prepare to play any of the receiver spots, which means that the Buckeyes will be able to find advantageous matchups for him. Receivers coach Zach Smith said that he has no starters currently, so every job is open. Dixon may not find himself in the starting lineup many times this coming season, but that doesn't mean he won't be involved. The Buckeyes need help at receiver, and Dixon is planning to oblige.
2. OG - Demetrius Knox
It's never easy to make an impact as a freshman offensive lineman, but with only one starter returning from last year's offensive line, Demetrius Knox will be given every chance to land in the two deep. Even though he won't arrive until the summer, the plan will be to load him up with responsibilities as soon as possible. If everything goes well for the Buckeyes, Knox will never have to start a single game this coming season. If he does find himself starting, however, he's more capable than most freshman of handling such a situation. Ed Warinner hasn't rotated offensive linemen much at OSU, but Knox could change that.
3. PK - Sean Nuernberger
Sean Nuernberger is probably the only mortal lock of this entire recruiting class to make an impact as a freshman, and being a freshman, that impact can go in either direction. If he is shaky, then Urban Meyer's decision making will always have to factor him in. If he's solid, then there will be one less problem for Meyer to worry about. The problem with a freshman kicker, however, is that he may seem fine right up until the very point that he isn't, and that time could happen when the Buckeyes can least afford it. Rest assured, Nuernberger is going to make an impact one way or another, and if he doesn't, it's because he's not kicking the ball.
4. RB - Curtis Samuel
Buckeye fans are probably groaning at the comparisons of Curtis Samuel to Dontre Wilson, but that didn't stop the coaches from making them. The plan is to use Samuel at running back, which is why his enrolling early is so important. He needs to get bigger and stronger, and he certainly will over the next eight months. Stan Drayton said that the Buckeyes didn't have a guy like him at running back, but now that they do, doesn't that mean they'll have to find a way to use him? Imagine a two-back set of Samuel and Ezekiel Elliott, with Wilson in the slot and Devin Smith out wide. It won't happen much, but when it does, you should buckle up.
5. WR - Noah Brown
At 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, Noah Brown has the size to play anything from running back to flex tight end. Fortunately for the Buckeyes, he also has the skill set to fill those roles. He is big and strong, yet quick and agile. He can carry the ball or flex out or line up out wide. Ohio State won't know exactly what they have with him until he gets to Columbus, but because he has done so many different things in high school, the expectations are high. If he can meet those expectations as a freshman, then he will be involved in any number of positions. As Zach Smith said on Wednesday, "He provides a lot of flexibility for us."
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