Ryan Day’s first recruiting class as Ohio State head coach was a little smaller than a typical year for the Buckeyes.
Due largely to scholarship restrictions, only 17 players signed with OSU for the 2019 cycle.
But one game into their careers, close to half of that class has already started to make their mark on the field.
Seven true freshmen played in the Buckeyes’ 45-21 win over Florida Atlantic, according to OSU’s official participation report.
Running back Marcus Crowley, wide receivers Garrett Wilson and Jameson Williams, offensive lineman Harry Miller, defensive ends Zach Harrison and Noah Potter, and linebacker Craig Young were all listed.
Only one of them made it onto the stat sheet. Crowley rushed four times for 27 yards, an average of 6.8 yards per carry.
Seven true freshmen was once about normal for a season opener. For comparison, six of the 20 true freshman played at Indiana in 2017: Jeff Okudah, Chase Young, J.K. Dobbins, Amir Riep, Haskell Garrett, and Baron Browning.
Of course, that was before the rule that allowed players to see action in four games and still maintain their redshirt status.
In 2018, Josh Proctor, Dallas Gant, Tyreke Smith, Cameron Brown, Brian Snead, Teradja Mitchell, Taron Vincent, Alex Williams, Master Teague, Chris Olave, K’Vaughan Pope, Javontae Jean-Baptiste, Tyler Friday, Tommy Togiai, Nicholas Petit-Frere, and Jeremy Ruckert were all listed in the official participation report. That’s 16 of the 25 true freshmen who were on the roster.
Those official reports are sometimes wrong, due to duplicate numbers and other factors, so the actual number may have been a little lower than that.
It’s still too early to know what this year’s smaller crop of freshmen debuts really means.
It could be a result of this year’s game being a lot closer than the 2018 opener against Oregon State.
It could be the coaching staff trying to hold some of the freshmen in reserve for later in the season, while still maintaining their redshirts.
A few of the freshmen who weren’t listed on the report, such as linebacker Cade Stover, have been mentioned recently as players who have a chance to contribute early. Running back Steele Chambers was listed as one of four potential second-string players behind J.K. Dobbins on the week one depth chart, but Chambers didn’t appear, either.
Three others were listed as unavailable due to injury, including DT Jaden McKenzie, SAF Ronnie Hickman, and TE Cormontae Hamilton.
By the end of September, we should have a much better idea which freshmen are likely to make significant early contributions, and which are more likely to redshirt.