Ohio State Football: Which Freshmen Will Play on Offense This Season?

Tim BielikSenior Analyst IFebruary 22, 2013

Photo courtesy of 247Sports.com.
Photo courtesy of 247Sports.com.

The biggest question that is always asked shortly after any national signing day is which new recruits will line up and play in their freshman seasons.

College football is not what it was decades ago, and freshmen contributing immediately is not just expected—it's almost critical to success in many programs.

In the case of the Ohio State Buckeyes and head coach Urban Meyer, their main goal in recruiting was to find the speedsters to suit their spread offense which, even lacking ideal personnel, was one of the highest-scoring offenses in the country (ranked No. 21) in points per game.

They wanted speed, and they got speed—and then some.

Namely, they found four speedsters who have a chance to crack the lineup on offense in Jalin Marshall, James Clark, Dontre Wilson and Ezekiel Elliott.

Marshall and Wilson are more prototypical slotbacks, who can be used both as receivers or running backs.

While Wilson is more of a speedster, Marshall has the ability to make people miss both with his speed and agility. In other words, Marshall runs a lot like Braxton Miller.

Clark is a pure wide receiver with speed to burn, though his route-running skills do need some work. He can, however, hit a home run any time he gets the football in his hands.

Eliiott may have a hard time cracking the depth chart at running back early because of the experience ahead of him. He does have the type of speed that none of OSU's other backs have, which makes him a potential candidate to get on the field.

Tight end Marcus Baugh could also crack the rotation despite the depth ahead of him because of his raw athletic ability, which can make him a mismatch nightmare for defenses.

JUCO WR Corey Smith could slide in as more of a conventional receiver, something OSU doesn't have a lot of at this moment.

The reality for these freshmen, however, is that nine of OSU's 2012 offensive starters return in 2013. The chances of these freshmen starting may be very slim, especially at the beginning of the season.

But there's no reason to think that a couple won't get on the field for at least specific packages or spot duty. The talent in this class is too good to not warrant at least a handful of snaps a game.


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