“I say this every year. I don’t want to redshirt. It’s not our plan.” ~ Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer on February 3, 2016, discussing the 2016 Ohio State football recruiting class
As the Scottish poet Robert Burns and the American author John Steinbeck might tell Coach Meyer, the best laid plans often result in something completely different and unpredicted. Urban Meyer has made no secret of wanting true freshmen to contribute on the field, but the realities of the Ohio State depth chart has often forced players to sit and bide their time for at least a season.
This is not a new phenomenon for Meyer at Ohio State. As he enters into his sixth season as OSU’s head coach, every season has had at least one player, if not more, emerge after taking a redshirt season.
- 2013 – Redshirted in 2012, Tyvis Powell started five games in 2013 at safety. He will forever be remembered and cherished by Buckeye fans for his key interception versus That Team Up North at the end of the 2013 season.
- 2014 – Redshirted in 2013, both Jalin Marshall and Eli Apple were key contributors for the 2014 national championship team. Marshall wound up being the second-leading receiver on the team, and sparked Ohio State to victory over Indiana late in the season with four touchdowns. Eli Apple emerged as a starter at cornerback, demonstrating his true worth when needed to come in at Michigan State, despite battling injury. Both Jalin Marshall and Eli Apple were named as freshman All-Americans by Athlon’s. And let’s not forget Darron Lee and Billy Price, both of whom started and excelled the entire season. Or J.T. Barrett.
- 2015 – Redshirted in 2014, both Sam Hubbard and Parris Campbell were able to contribute to a Buckeye team loaded with returning talent. Hubbard came ever so close to playing in 2014, only to redshirt. He started the opener at Virginia Tech and totaled 6.5 sacks during the 2015 season, en route to being named a freshman All-American by USA Today. Like Sam Hubbard, Parris Campbell was also a starter as a redshirt freshman for the season opener at Virginia Tech. Campbell started a total of three games in 2015 at wide receiver, but did not accumulate any statistics that season. He is expected to be a key contributor at H-Back for Ohio State this coming season.
- 2016 – Redshirted in 2015, both Mike Weber and Dre’Mont Jones emerged as strong contributors during the 2016 season for Ohio State, despite both players coming off injuries that wiped out their true freshman seasons. Weber was forced to redshirt due to a knee injury he sustained in fall camp of 2015, and he made up for it by leading Ohio State with 1,096 yards on the ground last year. Dre’Mont Jones sustained a knee injury during a high school basketball game that forced his redshirt season in 2015. He became a starter at defensive tackle after Tracy Sprinkle was injured in the season opener, and Jones wound up being the leading tackler along the Ohio State defensive line. Both Weber and Jones were named freshman All-Americans.
As you can see from the above examples, sometimes redshirting at Ohio State has led to the emergence of players at the most unexpected times. Looking at the 2016 recruiting class roster of redshirted players, are there any who could make a similar leap in production?
If forced to pick, I am going to go with the following two players — and they play the same position — tight ends Luke Farrell and Jake Hausmann.
As was the case last season with Dre’Mont Jones earning more playing time after the injury to Tracy Sprinkle, both Farrell and Hausmann seem to be in the mix for more playing time at tight end due to the recent news of A.J. Alexander’s season-ending injury. Throw in the fact that Ohio State has a new offensive coordinator in Kevin Wilson — who also serves as Ohio State’s tight ends coach, and it seems plausible to project Farrell and Hausmann being on this list a year from now.