Instant Impact: Offense

By Alex on February 25, 2013 at 2:00p

Each year, in the days and weeks following National Signing Day, fans across the nation get excited – maybe a little too excited – over the new kids in town. Visions of how they will help the team in the coming season start to come into place and labels as "the next great (enter position here) for University X" are placed on 17 and 18-year-old kids.

Freshman Teddy: 4 PR TDs with a 25.6 yard avg.

While some of these prophecies come true six to seven months following the signing of letters of intent, the straight facts are that most freshmen football players across the country make very little impact on their team's season in year one on campus.

Of course there are the exceptions like Ted Ginn Jr., Terrelle Pryor, Braxton Miller, and others, but if you take a look closely at each recruiting class for any college football program across the country, it is a rarity to have impact freshmen on the roster.

That being said, there are those exceptions, and with Ohio State bringing in possibly their best recruiting haul ever, it's worth taking a look at which of those players could be difference makers as Urban Meyer and his staff make a run at the national championship in 2013.

In this two-part series, we'll do just that, starting today with the offense. Join us after the jump to see which of Urban and Tom Herman's toys could see the field this season and make an instant impact for the 2013 Ohio State Buckeyes.


The Buckeyes brought in just one signal caller in the class of 2013 and that is early enrollee JT Barrett.

The 6-1/225 quarterback from Wichita Falls (TX) Rider was targeted early by Meyer and Herman and they landed their man early in the recruiting process. Barrett was a bit of a gem in the sense that many felt he was underrated by recruiting services a bit and would blow up his senior season.

That blow up was set to happen until a knee injury ended his season early and left him in rehab. Barrett is continuing that rehab currently at OSU after enrolling for spring semester, and is going through workouts with the team.

He is expected to throw, but not run, this spring and is supposedly on schedule to return by the opening game next year, but with Braxton Miller, Kenny Guiton and Cardale Jones on the roster, it's hard to imagine a scenario in which the star freshman doesn't redshirt.

I think, pending all goes well with rehab, Barrett has a bright future with the Buckeyes, but it won't start in 2013.

Running Back

Just like with quarterback, there is only one true running back in this class and that is Ezekiel Elliott of St. Louis (MO) John Burroughs.

EZE adds more depth to an already stocked RB stable

Like Barrett, Elliott was a player who flew under the radar a bit early, but the Bucks targeted him from the get-go and landed him on April 1, 2012.

Elliott is a big-time player who has the strength to line up in the I-formation and take it to you up the middle, while also possessing the versatility to move out to the slot and do some work in the passing game. He also has had success as a return man on special teams, which could come in handy when he arrives at Ohio State.

One again like with Barrett, depth could stand in the way of "EzE" seeing the field in 2013. Starter Carlos Hyde returned for his last season, while Rod Smith and Bri'onte Dunn both were in the rotation at times last year and will be back. On top of that, Warren Ball will be a redshirt freshman after coming off a foot injury that forced him out all of last season, and more importantly, Jordan Hall was granted a medical redshirt and will come back to play a hybrid running back/receiver role this year.

I like Elliott and he'll have every chance to get on the field in year one, but I just don't see how it wouldn't be worth redshirting him to create a year of separation between him and the competition.

In addition to Elliott, one player to note in this section is preferred walk-on William Houston. Houston has already enrolled at OSU this semester and will get a head start on his classmates in terms of workouts and spring practice. He is someone I could see earning a scholarship if there is one open before fall camp and I think he could be a factor on special teams and at fullback down the road. 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

The Buckeyes brought in five players in this category and they are Middletown (OH) ATH Jalin Marshall, DeSoto (TX) ATH Dontre Wilson, New Smyrna Beach (FL) WR James Clark, East Mississippi WR Corey Smith, and Riverside (CA) JW North TE Marcus Baugh.

Marshall is someone who will almost definitely see the field immediately in some capacity because he is an electric player. A high school quarterback who has only played receiver in camps and things of the sort, Marshall looked like a natural down at the Under Armour All-America Game and he is currently working hard to prepare for his first full season out wide. I see him in the "Percy Harvin" hybrid role Meyer used at Florida, and while I'm not sure how it will happen or how much it will happen, I'd bet some good money you see the ball in Marshall's hands this season.

Wilson was a high school running back, but is no stranger to catching the ball, as DeSoto utilized his tremendous speed and agility in the open field. The fact that he was a former Oregon commit should tell you enough about his skill set, and like Marshall I can see him getting time in the slot at the hybrid role. It will be on Dontre in terms of how much he sees the field in 2013, but one area I definitely think he can make an immediate impact is on special teams in the return game, as he is an exceptional talent in that area.

Clark was a bit of a late surprise for the Buckeyes, but they were very happy to land a true slot receiver of his caliber. Unlike the aforementioned players above, Clark won't play the hybrid, but he will be an inside receiver who is more likely to get the ball on shorter routes and use his speed to grab and go. The four-star prospect is good enough to see the field this year and will get every chance to do so, but between his fellow classmates and who is already on the roster, I'm not sure how often that will happen in 2013. I don't think he redshirts as of today, but I'm not sure he plays a ton of meaningful minutes.

Smith might be the biggest lock of all of the incoming receivers to see the field, since he comes already seasoned from the junior college ranks and plays outside receiver, where OSU really needs help. I truly believe that Urban Meyer will only take junior college players he believes will help his team from day one, and Smith, who only has two years of on-field eligibility remaining, falls into that bucket.

Finally, with Jeff Heuerman, Nick Vannett, and Blake Thomas on the roster it may be hard to see where Marcus Baugh sees the field, but this kid is one of the more underrated players in OSU's 2013 class and I think he makes an instant impact in a big way this year. Urban Meyer tells many tight end prospects they could be the next Aaron Hernandez for him in Columbus, but Baugh definitely has the combination of athleticism, strength, speed, and good hands to make that claim come true. I don't think there is really a player like him on OSU's roster currently and I look for Tom Herman to incorporate the four-star tight end into the offense however he can this fall.

Offensive Line

The Buckeyes would have liked to have bring in at least three offensive linemen in this past year's class, but only ended up with two. That being said, Tim Gardner and Evan Lisle are good ones and both have a chance to crack the two-deep this season.

Lisle keeps the Centerville pipeline flowing

Gardner is set to play inside at Ohio State and will provide talent at both right and left guard this year. With both Andrew Norwell and Marcus Hall set to graduate following this season, 2014 might be where Gardner makes his big splash, but there is an opportunity to beat out Antonio Underwood for a spot in the two-deep in 2013.

That opportunity will rest heavily on how Gardner is training to get himself into shape for when he arrives on campus in June, but if history indicates anything, the kid who did that once just to earn his OSU offer will put himself in the best place he can to earn some early playing time this year.

Evan Lisle's high school system was supposed to put him behind a bit in terms of pass protection, but he proved all the doubters wrong during the US Army All-American Bowl practices in San Antonio back in January.

Lisle was extremely impressive, and while he needs to add some weight before fall camp, he is certainly athletic enough and disciplined enough to fight for a backup tackle spot behind Jack Mewhort and Taylor Decker. He will be going up against Kyle Dodson, Darryl Baldwin, Tommy Brown, and possibly Chase Farris (who I have at back-up LG, but can play OT too) for a spot in the two-deep at either right or left tackle, and if his strength is where it needs to be, I like those chances that he wins out for one of them.

Like Gardner, Lisle will not be starting in 2013, but I definitely see him playing a little due to low depth and his surprising improvement in pass protection this year.


Comments Show All Comments

Savage45's picture

Not to nit-pick but that's isn't a picture of Teddy.

cinserious's picture

I'd say its Jordan Hall

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

headina's picture

Teddy was in no way that ripped 


Alex's picture

Definitely Jordan Hall---to my defense I didn't put in that picture haha, but we will swap it out

Petie3rd's picture

That is Teddy...No doubt

Smanpoint10's picture

inside the parenthesis under the offensive linemen you put plat instead of play

Citrus's picture

Looks like Smith and Marshal have the biggest opportunity to make an impact.

ATXbucknut's picture

Good write-up.  What you say about Clark not playing a whole lot makes sense, but geez it's hard to keep that kind of elite speed off the field.  Once he learns the system, I would hope to see him get on the field at least in the second half of the season.  Maybe just during garbage time, but I would like to break him in a bit this year.  At very least on special teams.

sharks's picture

I could read article after article about the freshman receiving corps and never grow tired of hearing about them.  I cannot wait to see some combination of Miller, Hall, Hyde, Marshall, and Wilson on the field this year- almost makes one feel bad for the poor defenses they'll face...

A man got to have a code...

cinserious's picture

Add these explosive playmakers to the wonderful offensive minds on our coaching staff plus a top notch, highly destructive defense and soon the entire country will be stunned by the amount of points OSU will put up on teams.

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

gobucks96's picture

The WR unit went from one of the bigger question marks to a position of strength. I'm excited to see if Lisle and Gardner are worthy for the rotation next year and whether or not Munger and/or Price move over to OL.

osu07asu10's picture

Do you think the scholarship reduction has an effect on Meyer's willingness to offer JUCO players in the event they don't pan out, it is only a 2 year miss or are we far enough along in the sanctions that he isn't necessarily concerned anymore?

CJDPHoS Board of Directors // Best friends with Homey Hache

The 0 is silent.

ARMYBUCK's picture

I really don't see Gardner and Lisle seeing the field this year barring injuries.  I think a year in the program learning and conditioning is more likely.  Decker, Dodson, Elflein, Boren and the gang will probably be tough for the freshman to pass after a full year in the program.

bucknut8's picture

maybe Gardner. But I wouldnt count out Lisle. I think its best for Gardner to just chill for a year, but Lisle could very well be in the 2 deep. Decker will most likely start. Dodson & Boren are very well 2nd team and possibly 6th & 7th men along with Chase Farris. Elflein is still unsure. I think Underwood is also in that 2 deep. Lisle could beat out Elflein for 2nd team. who knows


DefendOhio's picture

I miss those uniforms from the early Tressel years!

Chris Lauderback's picture

Full disclosure: in my haste to help Alex by adding pics, I just did a quick google search for teddy and grabbed a pic from the first row of images. I didn't even look to see if the pic was mislabeled. I shouldve caught it because they really don't look similar ouside of the #7. Derp.

rdubs's picture

Thanks for owning up to it.  It certainly doesn't take away from the site in my mind, and I don't expect a free site to be perfect.  Moreover, I see this site own up to its shortcomings (large and small) more than ones that people pay for and that have 100x the production staff, just another reason why this is one of my home tabs.

cinserious's picture

@Chris Staff:   you just gave me a great idea for 11W to help get us through the slow-season. Its called Name That Buckeye!  The staff posts a random pic of a Buckeye from the last 20 yrs complete with jersey # and the community has to guess who it is.

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

SPreston2001's picture

Man I miss Teddy.... Ive NEVER seen anybody run the way Teddy did in pads...

Phillips.449's picture

I agree!  You could tell he had speed even in the still pictures of him.

Knarcisi's picture

Our biggest instant impact will be in the slot ... Hello Jalin, James, and Dontre. And at tOSU, I will venture to say that we have never seen the athleticism at TE that Marcus Baugh will bring. 

Buck Commander's picture

I agree the slot play will be naaaaasty!!!

Every time I set my DVR to record Biggest Loser......It always records Wolverine Football Games!

slovak71's picture

In regards to the pic of Ginn. I really miss watching the Ginn Gait during his Buckeyes days.

cinserious's picture

I believe the Slot (Z) position will be started by Philly Brown and backed up by either James Clark or Jalin Marshall (depending on how they plan to use Marshall).
The H-Back position (Percy Harvin role) will start Jordan Hall, backed up by either Dontre Wilson or Jalin Marshall.
Both positions will be dynamic and electric in this offense but I'm kinda pulling for the H-Back a little more because there are so many ways it can be used out of the backfield either running or passing.

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

IBleedSandG's picture

Is Teddy's 25.6 yard punt return avg a record?


shortbus20's picture

Pet Peave:   can we please stop comparing future and current buckeyes to former Florida players (Aaron Hernandez and Percy Harvin)?  With over 100 years of Ohio State history there must be someone else we can use for the comparison.   

  • shortbus20
Alex's picture

100% with you but unfortunately that is what Meyer is using to recruit guys so you may need to take it up with him!

Knarcisi's picture

I hate it too, but the fact is we are recruiting a different type of athlete. I sure hope that I don't have to compare Marcus Baugh to Rickey Dudley.