We have now come to the conclusion of our redshirt forecast. The first part of the forecast spoke of the Ohio State football freshmen who were most likely to redshirt. The second part spoke of those freshmen who were more likely to play than redshirt. Today’s conclusion focuses on those newcomers who have been talked about as if there are no plans to redshirt them this season.
What makes these players more likely than any of the other new arrivals to see the field? Well, for the most part, it’s due to performance. Granted, we haven’t been able to see any of these performances in camp, but stuff still leaks out. We can make assumptions based on the information that has tunneled its way under the walls of the WHAC.
Depth charts also come into play, as you would expect. If we’re talking about a position that might not be that deep this year or next year, then getting some real-world experience for that player just makes sense.
Mostly, however, it simply comes down to who is ready to play and who isn’t. These nine players below should absolutely be ready to contribute this season.
Dallas Gant, LB
Dallas Gant enrolled early and impressed in the spring. He arrived at Ohio State with his head down and he has maintained that approach throughout fall camp. Gant has already had his black stripe removed, so nothing he has done in camp has decreased the expectations that he is going to play this year. He spent most of the spring at Sam, but he’ll be involved on special teams for sure this season. There will also be a place for him on defense late in games.
Teradja Mitchell, LB
Teradja Mitchell was the first summer enrollee to have his black stripe removed, and it happened pretty early in camp, which gives you an idea of the impression he made immediately. Right now (without seeing any practices or talking to coaches to confirm it), it would appear that the middle linebacker depth chart is Tuf Borland, Justin Hilliard, and Mitchell. Expect Mitchell to play this season and to play quite a bit. The depth chart may be an issue, but Greg Schiano and Bill Davis are going to want to get him on the field regardless.
Nicholas Petit-Frere, OT
Urban Meyer has said a couple of times that Nicholas Petit-Frere was going to be in the rotation this season. That would essentially put him in the two-deep, which is asking a lot of a true freshman who didn’t arrive until this summer. Of course, Petit-Frere was also the highest-rated recruit in Ohio State’s 2018 class, so he has arrived with lofty expectations. The Buckeyes have had success with not redshirting offensive tackles in the recent past. It has worked with Taylor Decker, Jamarco Jones, and Isaiah Prince. We’ll find out this season if it has worked for Thayer Munford as well.
Jeremy Ruckert, TE
When Urban Meyer says Jeremy Ruckert is the best tight end prospect he has ever recruited, you’d like to think there is room for him in the 2018 Ohio State offense. His size at 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds is typical for a tight end, but his ability as a receiver is not. He is fast and athletic, and while he may not be ready for a season of run blocking, there are plenty of other areas on the football field where he could be called upon this season.
Tyreke Smith, DE
Ohio State needs depth at defensive end and Tyreke Smith may be the best bet among the freshmen to deliver. Smith was the highest-ranked of the 2018 defensive end recruits that the Buckeyes signed, but it has been his inclusion on fall camp highlight videos posted by OSU which lands him on this list. With just four veteran defensive ends on the roster, the freshmen are going to be called upon late in games when the outcome is no longer in doubt. Expect Tyreke Smith to be one of those who are in the game, and expect him to make his presence known quite often.
Brian Snead, RB
When Brian Snead became the first of the freshman running backs to lose his black stripe a week or so ago, that made everyone stand up and take notice. With just two experienced running backs on the roster, Snead was always expected to play, but his performance in camp is at least a little surprising. That’s good news for the Buckeyes, who may have found somebody who can do more than just carry the ball in the fourth quarter when OSU is trying to run the clock out.
Master Teague, RB
You saw what Master Teague was able to do in the spring game, and as we all know, the spring game is always an accurate indicator of future results. Like Brian Snead, there is a need for Teague on the field this season because of the depth chart. There may not be four or five carries per game available for Teague, but there will be some games where he is around 7-10 carries and those games will provide great experience. There’s no reason he can’t have the same kind of freshman season as guys like Ezekiel Elliott, Curtis Samuel, or Demario McCall and rush for around 300 yards this year.
Tommy Togiai, DT
When a freshman loses his black stripe in the spring like Tommy Togiai did, you should probably just go ahead and put him in the September two-deep. The problem with doing that this year, however, is that Ohio State’s two-deep at defensive tackle is more of a four-deep. There are all kinds of players vying for action this season, but Togiai has seemingly done enough to earn more than four games of action. Who knows, maybe Larry Johnson will pull out a Reverse Rushmen and have four defensive tackles on the field on first downs this year.
Antwuan Jackson, DT
Antwuan Jackson has already redshirted as a true freshman at Auburn, so there is no redshirt for the Buckeyes to hold onto this season. They’re probably not too torn up about that, however. Ohio State has a strong top two at nose tackle in Robert Landers and Davon Hamilton, but Jackson is going to do his best to make it a top three. He will also be competing with redshirt freshman Jerron Cage to make it onto the field as well. Jackson spent the spring dealing with an injury, but he should be healthy now. It’s been a long time coming for him in terms of playing major college football, so it will be interesting to see how he responds this year.