Ohio State Football: Can Freshmen Speed Push OSU Offense to the Next Level?
With the combination of Urban Meyer's spread offense and Braxton Miller's incredible ability to run it, Ohio State fielded the most productive offense in the Big Ten last year. The Buckeyes set a signal-season school record by scoring more than 50 points four times on their way to averaging 37.2 points per game.
According to Meyer, that offense needs to get faster. He's hoping the Buckeyes' freshmen can help in that regard.
It's no secret that Meyer covets speed, especially at the offensive skill positions. His offense is designed to expose defenders in space, preferably with players who have the ability to turn a screen pass into a breakaway touchdown.
The Buckeyes didn't have those players last year. Wide receivers Devin Smith and Corey Brown were productive, both hauling in more than 600 receiving yards, but neither was the kind of home run hitter that takes Meyer's offense to the next level.
There are a number of freshmen who could change that. At least that's the opinion Miller has after working with the first-year players this summer.
"The new guys are unbelievable," Ohio State's quarterback said, according to Tony Gerdeman of The-Ozone.net. "Speed, talent, they make plays. I don't think anybody is going to redshirt this year."
Many of Ohio State's upperclassmen are raving about Dontre Wilson, the 4-star athlete out of DeSoto, Texas.
Wilson, a one-time Oregon commit, rushed for 1,895 yards and 37 touchdowns while adding 750 receiving yards and nine touchdowns during his senior season. Wilson is bringing that playmaking ability to Columbus, and his teammates are taking notice.
“Dontre looks to be a special player,” safety Christian Bryant told . “With the speed, and his agility, just when he catches the ball, you can just see how he moves. He's going to be a special player.”
There are others who can turn on the jets in the open field. Four-star prospects Jalin Marshall and Ezekiel Elliott have 4.4 speed, and James Clark, who may be the fastest freshman on the team, ran a 10.4-second 100-meter dash in high school.
According to Bill Rabinowitz of The Columbus Dispatch, Meyer is hoping these guys can push Ohio State to the next level.
“To take the next step, to be truly a great offense, you have to have game-breakers," Meyer said. "Either develop them or recruit them. Hopefully, we’ve done both.”
Meyer will find out for sure when the Buckeyes take the field against Buffalo in 25 days.
All recruit rankings and stats per 247Sports.com.
David Regimbal is the lead Ohio State football writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.
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