With starting running back Jordan Hall out for at least the first few weeks of the season with a torn foot tendon (the result of a freak accident), the running back situation at Ohio State is as muddled as ever. Carlos Hyde saw significant playing time last year, and tailback Rod Smith was a 5-star recruit in the class of 2011; he's as promising as they come.
And then there's Bri'onte Dunn, another 5-star recruit who looks to have a bright future at Ohio State—or, at the very least, looked to have that bright future until a reported arrest this weekend.
Freshman Bri'onte Dunn was charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia after a traffic stop Saturday night in Alliance, Ohio. According to police, Dunn nearly hit a patrol car before he was pulled over. Then officers allegedly found a pipe and small amounts of marijuana in the car. Dunn received a citation and was not taken to jail.
Considering the fact that Jake Stoneburner and Jack Mewhort were taken off scholarship for the summer after a comparatively minor incident, this could—and should—be trouble for Dunn. We don't expect Meyer to kick Dunn off the team and then throw him onto the moon or anything like that, but we do expect multiple games lost to suspension.
And if Dunn catches enough heat with Meyer for this, then yes, a redshirt should absolutely be on the table.
Now, it's easy to look at an idea like redshirting a player over disciplinary measures as overly punitive, like a season-long suspension. But the fact is that Dunn should be suspended for at least two games—which is, barring a setback, the entire portion of the season that Hall should be out. Dunn's similar enough to the other backs in the system (bull-strong, big, not so fast) that he isn't bringing enough to the table to where his redshirt is a necessity to burn.
Let's also consider the alternative: Dunn is suspended for multiple games, then comes back and plays as a true freshman. As mentioned before, Dunn doesn't fill a very unique role on a team that already has Hyde and Smith, so unless he's a superlative talent (like Maurice Clarett or Eddie George), he's not going to warrant major minutes. He's also not going to be on Urban Meyer's good side for a long while, as incidents like this linger.
So if Dunn plays as a true freshman, it'll probably effectively be a waste of one year of eligibility.
That's why we say keep Dunn on the sidelines for a year. Let him watch some tailbacks who might not be as good as him get some reps (reps that might have been his) this season. Remind him that he's lucky that this type of punishment doesn't take away any eligibility.
Tell him in no uncertain terms that his career at Ohio State isn't going to survive another such incident.
And then move on.