No. 98: Bri'Onte Dunn, No. 25, RB, Ohio State
2011 Stats: 1,657 yards, 17 touchdowns (GlenOak HS, Canton, OH)
Dunn is one of the crown jewels of the 2012 recruiting class, and it's easy to see why. He's already listed at 6'1" and 214 pounds (and expect that second number to rise over the next 18 months), he's fast and he's a powerful runner.
More importantly, he's already on campus, having graduated high school early and enrolled at Ohio State for the spring semester. He has serious future All-American potential. Just watch.
Moreover, not only did Dunn get on campus early, he got on at essentially the same time the new offensive staff did. In other words, the other tailbacks don't have however many extra years of experience with the new playbook that Dunn doesn't have. It's a first-year offense for all of them, so there's equal footing.
Still, we are talking about a true freshman here, and for all the talent Dunn brings to the table, Ohio State's not hurting for depth at tailback. Jordan Hall and Carlos Hyde are atop the depth chart for now, and former top RB recruit Rod Smith is also in the mix. Urban Meyer told CantonRep.com said Dunn will likely play in 2012, but for now, all Meyer brought up was special teams and "some snaps."
There's a greater-than-zero chance that Dunn cracks the two-deep this year, considering the somewhat lackluster performances of Hall and Hyde in 2011. Granted, that was more about being cogs in an inefficient offense and less about being bad running backs, but you don't look at either of those guys as potential Heisman candidates down the road. Dunn's the one with that potential.
That said, if Hall, Hyde and Smith all stay healthy for most of the year, Dunn's production is going to be a casualty of scarcity. Thus, it'll take either a mammoth fall practice performance or a significant injury (or two) in front of him to get Dunn to 100 carries on the year, but even in a full backfield, Dunn should see about five per game and use the opportunity to rush for about five yards a pop or so.
That's the thing, though. Breakthrough performances in summer/fall camp by 5-star players and injuries for running backs are not exactly rare in college football. So, the ceiling's a lot higher than 50-60 carries for Dunn, even if it'll take some luck getting there.