Even at the collegiate level, football is a grownup's game that goes doubly so in the trenches, where every single play is a brute test of strength, resolve and endurance. So no matter how talented a lineman prospect is, odds are that he's going to redshirt in his first year—or at the very least, he really ought to.
That extra year is critical for development in the strength and conditioning program, and usually the redshirt freshman player is miles ahead of where he was coming into camp.
But Ohio State's recruits say to hell with all that noise.
As Eleven Warriors reports, Ohio State opened practice on Monday, and the coaches are very, very happy with their new toys on the defensive line:
“From what I've seen so far, there'll be a bunch of freshmen who'll play in that first game,” Meyer said.
The defensive side of the ball, in particular, is loaded with talented freshmen: Adolphus Washington, Noah Spence, Camren Williams, David Perkins, Se’Von Pittman and Jamal Marcus.
Washington and Spence also made it known they were on the practice field. Defensive line coach Mike Vrabel was vocal with the two rookies, offering encouragement and generally praising their effort and performance.
More cause for excitement about the linemen? Yes, more, from another 11W report:
During defensive drills, Vrabel could be heard shouting, “Perfect Adolphus, Perfect Adolphus.” After practice Meyer said a number of freshmen would play this fall. He specifically mentioned Noah Spence and Jamal Marcus.
For what it's worth, Marcus is a linebacker who came in a little under the radar (as many missiles often do), but he's likely to redshirt as he learns the defense.
Back to the defensive line—if Adolphus Washington is getting that kind of praise from Mike Vrabel in August of his true freshman season, he's going to play. He's not going to start unless horrible things happen to the guys in front of him, but he'll be on the field.
The crazy part is, all three of the defensive linemen (Washington, Spence, Pittman) look physically ready to go for Ohio State right now. Check out this video of some defensive line drills, and look at where those three are physically. They look like their teammates.
Depth is a very nice problem to have, of course, but it's still a problem when you're a freshman trying to work his way onto the field. So for as good as the three freshmen look now, playing time might be in short supply when it comes time for the meat of the Big Ten schedule. But if Urban Meyer says they're earning their way onto the field, their futures are unbelievably bright.
And for the rest of the Big Ten, that is not good news. Our thoughts and prayers go out to opposing offensive lines.