Ohio State Football: First-Year Players Who Will Play Big Role in 2013
Urban Meyer has done an outstanding job with recruiting at Ohio State, and as a result he has some incoming players in 2013 who will be big contributors to the team's success.
Which player will make the biggest impact in 2013?
Given the immense talent across the board for the Buckeyes, earning playing time won't be easy for incoming freshmen or JUCO transfers. That said, in order for this program to reach its full potential, it will need some of these young men to step up.
Scout.com gave Ohio State its top ranking for the 2013 recruiting class, and of the 24 players who committed to Meyer's program, there are sure to be a few instant stars.
These players will make an early impact in 2013, and by the end of the season they could be regulars in the starting lineup.
Corey Smith, Wide Receiver
Smith isn't an incoming freshman, but this JUCO transfer out of East Mississippi Community College will hit the ground running in his first season at Ohio State.
Last year, the Buckeyes lacked an explosive receiver on the outside.
That won't be a problem this season with Smith in the lineup.
With good size, at 6'1" and 190 pounds, Smith brings excellent speed, acceleration and phenomenal hands to the Big Ten. Not only can he stretch the field, but his reliable hands will help Ohio State's offense convert more third downs than it did a year ago.
Last year, Smith caught 50 passes for 721 yards and nine touchdowns, and he'll end up becoming one of Braxton Miller's favorite targets by the end of the season in 2013.
Eli Apple, Cornerback
One of the top cornerback prospects in the 2013 recruiting class, Apple has been at Ohio State as an early recruit since February.
Meyer has been impressed with Apple, along with a couple of other freshmen. He spoke about his young players in a video interview with ESPN's Jeremy Crabtree:
A long, athletic corner, Apple will likely move into the starting lineup as the third corner when the Buckeyes roll out their nickel packages. With Doran Grant moving into the staring lineup opposite Bradley Roby after Travis Howard's departure, this is a logical move.
Apple's speciality is his ability to play man-to-man and jam receivers at the line of scrimmage. He uses his long arms to break up receivers' rhythm, which will help the team's front line get pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
By the midway point of the season, nobody should be surprised if Apple overtakes Grant as the second corner opposite Roby.
Jalin Marshall, Wide Receiver/Running Back
The excitement surrounding Marshall heading into the 2013 season is palpable.
This former high school quarterback will spend most of his time in the slot for Meyer's offense, and Josh Helmholdt of Rivals.com notes his explosiveness in this role:
Jalin Marshall runs his offense well, but he is definitely a slot WR at the next level. Was so explosive in that role this summer— Josh Helmholdt (@JoshHelmholdt) August 25, 2012
His raw speed, game-breaking open-field moves and mind-blowing athleticism will be a big reason Ohio State has a chance to unseat the top teams in the SEC this year when it's all said and done.
Marshall won't spend all his time in the slot, however. He's often compared to Percy Harvin, and you can expect him to line up all over the field. His ability to score on any given play will help Ohio State become an offensive juggernaut in 2013.
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