With the departure of offensive weapons like Carlos Hyde and Philly Brown, the Buckeyes will be clamoring for an offensive supporting cast to accompany Braxton Miller. Both Hyde and Brown were Miller’s most reliable options last season and led the Buckeyes offense to heights never seen before.
The absence of these two key components now begs this question: How will the Buckeyes succeed on offense aside from completely relying on the sometimes-fragile Miller?
The answer will come in the compact, blazing-fast package of Dontre Wilson.
The true sophomore out of Texas has attained high expectations from Buckeye Nation since he came to Columbus a year ago. Stocked with a deadly combination of straight-ahead speed, quickness, and acceleration, Wilson is the prototypical specimen for the H-back position in Meyer’s offense.
Often referred to as the “Percy Harvin role," the position’s purpose is to place a versatile and talented runner in open space as often as possible. The position is vital to the diversity of Meyer’s offense and to ensure that the scheme reaches its full potential.
Many fans and analysts were disappointed with Wilson’s production in his first season, but this criticism is unfairly harsh for two reasons.
For one, the majority of Wilson’s high school career was played from the running back position. Although the blue-chip recruit possessed versatile skills, it was foolish to expect Wilson to immediately grasp a new position and flourish in it.
Following a full season at Ohio State that included a healthy amount of reps and an entire off season of work, Wilson will feel far more comfortable in his destined position. This familiarity with his role in Meyer’s offense will lead to a deeper trust in Wilson from the coaches. As a result, one of the most dynamic runners on the entire roster should see a major spike in touches this season.
Wilson also has put in some seriously necessary work in the weight room since his arrival. As a true freshman, he weighed around 175 pounds, far from the type of size necessary to carry a significant load in a college offense.
Urban Meyer has mentioned on multiple occasions that Wilson would need to bulk up 10-15 pounds in order to be a constant contributor in his offense, and his wish has come true. According to reports from spring practice, Wilson now weighs in at an effective 190 pounds. This fact can’t be underestimated because this additional size will allow Wilson to contribute more constantly in the running game, where he is most effective.
As a sophomore with new faces all over the offense, Wilson will have the opportunity to become a significant contributor in 2014. Don’t be surprised if his experience, increased size and rare capabilities turn him into a household name in 2014.