Ohio State's freshman class this year may be one of the best in all of college football.
Few of its freshman shine as brightly as Scout.com's 5-star wide receiver Jalin Marshall from in-state Middletown.
Marshall, a quarterback in high school, possesses incredible speed and quickness in the open field, making him one of the most intriguing players on the Buckeyes' roster.
But can a converted quarterback have an immediate impact at wide receiver right away?
Here's our in-depth preview on the Buckeyes' electrifying freshman.
• Height: 6'0''
• Weight: 190
• Position: Wide Receiver
• Stats from High School (Senior Year): 765 yards passing, 1,421 yards rushing, 25 total touchdowns
• High School Awards: 2012 Under Armour All-American, 2012 First-Team All-Greater Miami Conference
• Other Finalists: Notre Dame, Tennessee, UCLA, among others
Jalin Marshall has had OSU fans watching him throughout his high school career much as they did for Braxton Miller until two years ago, and for good reason.
Urban Meyer could utilize Marshall's elusiveness in the open field a la Percy Harvin, something Middletown head coach Troy Everhart feels is right in Marshall's wheelhouse, he told Clayton Fuller of The Lantern.
"The kid is electric,” Everhart said. “I mean, every time he touches the ball there’s an outstanding chance it’s going all the way. I wanted him to touch the ball as often as possible. When he played for me, it’s almost shameful but I wanted him to have the ball half the game.”
Ohio State wide receiver coach Zach Smith told Doug Lesmerises of the The Plain Dealerthat he knows Marshall is still a bit raw when it comes to the wide receiver position, but he believes his athletic gifts will ease the transition:
There are some rough fundamental issues, just in that he hasn't been in a stance and hasn't been catching slant routes his whole career. But the intangible value of a kid like Jalin Marshall far outweighs any deficiencies in getting in a receiver stance. That's my job. I'll get him in a receiver stance. He'll learn to run slant routes. The intangibles he brings are what really makes a guy like that attractive to us.
During a recent practice, Bill Rabinowitz of The Columbus Dispatch had these thoughts about Marshall's transition to wide receiver:
Freshman wide receiver Jalin Marshall looks like he can contribute right away. He looked speedy and is bigger than (Dontre) Wilson. He made a nice catch in double coverage in the back of the end zone but the pass was thrown just deep enough that Marshall wasn’t able to come down inbounds.
Urban Meyer has shown throughout his coaching career that he's not only going to play freshmen, but that he will use them frequently and trust them with a heavy burden.
Marshall should be no different.
He is not nearly as fast as fellow big-time freshman Dontre Wilson, but he is an explosive runner in the open field. In some ways, Marshall runs similarly to Braxton Miller.
Marshall had some success at wide receiver back in January's Under Armour All-American Game. But he may not be used in base sets with the veteran depth in front of him.
However, that doesn't mean Marshall won't be given opportunities to get the football into his hands on bubble screens, jet sweeps or any other creative packages.
Meyer has proved that even if you're a freshman, if you're good enough, you will get the football in your hands right away.
With the position change, Marshall obviously needs to learn how to adjust to not having the ball in his hands every single play.
He needs to learn more of the nuances of the wide receiver position, particularly route running and how to read coverage as a receiver.
Marshall has to prove he can be reliable with his hands and secure the ball before he makes moves in the open field.
He has the ability to make defenders miss without a doubt.
The difference is being able to make athletes who are bigger, stronger and more experienced than him at the college level miss like he did at high school.
Again in some ways, Miller had to learn the same thing when he ran the football. Marshall could go through a similar transition when it comes to learning how to make big plays in college.
Marshall shouldn't have any problem getting on the field right away as a freshman. He and Wilson add the game-breaking threat that the Buckeyes offense just didn't have with the exception of Miller a year ago.
From that perspective, it's hard to imagine Marshall not seeing some action right from the start.
Even if he doesn't get out there much as a receiver, he has potential as a kick returner.
For freshman stats, Marshall has a chance to top at least 300 yards receiving and 150 yards rushing, with about four or five touchdowns.
His versatility and open-field running should be able to make that happen.
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