Ohio State brought in one of the best recruiting classes in college football for 2012, earning Scout.com's No. 3 class.
About half of the 25 recruits Ohio State signed played at some point during the season, whether it be on kick coverage or taking snaps from scrimmage. Some had a bigger impact than others and should have Buckeye fans excited for the future.
The players on this list had to have made a tangible impact on the field and had some significant playing time as well. They may not have made highlight plays all the time, but their presence in critical situations was certainly felt during the season.
Here is a look at the five freshmen that showed the most in their first year.
Bri'onte Dunn came in as one of the most heralded players in the state of Ohio, and found his way onto the field for 11 games in a crowded backfield.
Dunn got some carries and also had his time as a kick returner, and he was the only freshman to find the end zone with a pair of touchdowns.
He rushed 25 times for 133 yards and showed some power and burst out of the backfield.
As Dunn continues to grow, he will continue to get power runs while OSU adds speedier backs in the years to come.
Michael Thomas never lived up to his spring outburst where he had 13 receptions. In fact, he fell 10 catches short of that total for his entire freshman season with 22 yards on three catches despite being on the field quite often in four or five-receiver sets.
Thomas saw action in 11 games this season and will have a chance in the spring to move up on the depth chart. Barring any top receiver commits, the battle for No. 3 wideout between Thomas and Evan Spencer could be an interesting story.
Josh Perry's time at Ohio State is almost like coming home after his time at nearby Olentangy High School.
He soon found his way into the rotation at linebacker and got some significant playing time during the season.
Perry played in 10 games yet only had five total tackles. With two linebackers graduating this season, Perry's experience of playing in the base defense may give him an inside track to a starting job.
The Buckeyes had two 5-star defensive ends commit last year, with Noah Spence bringing a big-time pedigree out of Pennsylvania.
Spence only recorded one sack in his freshman season—in the opener against Miami (Oh.)—but he made a presence and played in 11 games. He may need to get a little stronger, but the athleticism and ability to create pressure are there.
A good winter and spring can help Spence grow even more into the elite-level pass-rusher that he could be.
Johnathan Hankins may leave early, but Adolphus Washington has showed that the future is very bright and he has big-time ability.
Washington converted from DE to DT going into this season and was very active in the middle, with three sacks and nine total tackles in 10 games played.
He will need to get stronger to play the position even better next year.
But if last season was any indication, Washington is in line to be the next great defensive stud at Ohio State.
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