Ohio State Football: Which Freshmen Will Have a Big Impact in 2012?
The 2012 season at Ohio State is already very intriguing—not only because of Urban Meyer's first year in charge, but also because of the freshmen that are heading to Columbus.
All the freshmen at Ohio State are enrolled and now starting to get into Mickey Marotti's strength training program.
The question in today's game now is which freshmen should be redshirted, and which ones should play as true freshmen.
There are all sorts of options in a consensus top-five class that is balanced in many positions, but very loaded in the front seven, in particular with Noah Spence and Adolphus "Diesel" Washington.
Even though the depth on the defensive line is pretty good with some experienced players at all positions, Spence and Washington are incredibly gifted talents that made big impacts at their respective high school All-American games.
Obviously, neither one is going to unseat John Simon, who is pretty much a lock for the first round of next year's NFL Draft, barring injury. Both should be able to get their chances to at least prove themselves in pass-rushing situations if they decide to slide Simon inside.
In the linebacker corps, both Josh Perry and David Perkins should get an opportunity to contribute. Perry enrolled in the winter and brings plenty of pass coverage ability to a linebacking corps that had problems defending the pass at times.
Perkins is basically a clone of last year's stud freshman Ryan Shazier, blessed with unbelievable speed to go with his size.
Perkins will likely be used in a punt block formation that Meyer made famous at Florida; he sent his best athletes after the punter, more times than not, with favorable results.
Underrated pass-rusher Jamal Marcus also has a chance to make an impact in passing downs with his speed and relentless ability to get to the quarterback.
On the offense, things are a little muddier because OSU lost out on some athletes that could have bolstered the skill positions.
But Ricquan Southward could be a sleeper after a strong senior season at Lakeland (Fla.) and good speed to go with his 6'3" frame. Prep school transfer Michael Thomas had a great spring and proved he could be a volume receiver in Meyer's offense. On the line, Taylor Decker and Joey O'Connor each have the ability to jump into the line rotation and could help make at least a minor impact.
With a class of 25 talented freshmen coming to Columbus, odds are very high that some freshmen will jump into action right away.
And sometimes, there are less-heralded freshmen that burst onto the scene and make a bigger impact than the blue-chippers.
The promise of great freshmen coming to campus makes most football fans excited, and this crop at Ohio State should be no different. It's this group of 25 that could help Meyer launch a new dominant era of Buckeye football.
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