Watch These Freshmen for an Instant Impact this Fall

By Miles Joseph on May 7, 2013 at 4:30p

While Urban Meyer and the Ohio State coaching staff are in the process of building a very strong 2014 recruiting class, it's time to take a look back at the 2013 class which was one of the best in the country.

Vonn Bell is OSU's top incoming recruit

The 2013 class, featuring 24 members from across the country, signed national letters of intent on February 6th of this year. That group was recognized as the nation's best class by Scout, while Rivals and 247 Sports each had the Buckeyes with the second-best class of 2013.

On the offensive side of the ball the Buckeyes signed nine players: ATH Jalin Marshall, RB Ezekiel Elliott, QB JT Barrett, ATH Dontre Wilson, WR Corey Smith, WR James Clark, TE Marcus Baugh, OT Evan Lisle, and OT Tim Gardner.

On defense, the Buckeyes added fifteen players: S Vonn Bell, CB Eli Apple, DB Cam Burrows, DE Joey Bosa, LB Mike Mitchell, LB Trey Johnson, DB Gareon Conley, S Jayme Thompson, LB Christopher Worley, ATH Darron Lee, DT Michael Hill, DT Billy Price, DE Tyquan Lewis, and DT Donovan Munger.

Not all of these new or soon to be freshmen will play in 2013, but Ohio State will need a couple of these young men to step up and put in some serious time from day one.

Today we are going to discuss which three offensive signees and which three defensive signees will make the biggest impact on the football field from day one on.


Safety Vonn Bell, Rossville (GA) Ridgeland

Bell's commitment was the a pleasant surprise for Buckeye fans on National Signing Day 2013. Bell, considered a 5-star recruit by most recruiting services has a great opportunity to play and play early. While it isn't very likely he'll start at safety, as veterans CJ Barnett and Christian Bryant form one of the best tandems in the nation, Bell is the type of player that's just too talented to keep on the bench. It's a safe bet the Ohio State coaching staff will get Bell on the field in some capacity.

Linebacker Trey Johnson, Lawrenceville (GA) Central Gwinnett 

Johnson committed to Auburn early in the process, but flipped to Ohio State shortly after the Tigers fired Gene Chizik. It's a good thing that happened as the Buckeyes are very thin at the linebacker position. Ryan Shazier is the only sure-fire starter at linebacker, with Curtis Grant also penciled in to start. That sill leaves one spot open, which could be filled by Johnson or fellow freshmen linebacker Mike Mitchell. I'm going to go out on a limb and say Johnson will be a starter in 4-3 sets for Ohio State.

Marshall is expected to make a lot of big plays

Cornerback Eli Apple, Voorhees (NJ) Eastern

With the departure of Travis Howard and with Doran Grant moving into a starting spot across from star corner Bradley Roby, the Buckeyes need another corner to step up and add depth to the nickel spot. I think Apple is the guy. In my opinion he is the most physically ready of the Buckeye cornerback signees. I think he'll impress in this role from day one.


Athlete Jalin Marshall, Middletown (OH)

When you ask a Buckeye fan which recruit they're most excited to see, more than a few will mention Marshall's name and it's hard to blame them. A quarterback in high school, Marshall has begun his transition to wide receiver. He showed good signs of development at the Under Armour All-America Game in January and I think he'll see a lot of playing time this fall.

Wide Receiver Corey Smith, Scooba (MS) East Miss. CC

Yeah, yeah. As a JUCO transfer, Smith isn't truly a freshman, but he is a part of the class of 2013. Smith has three academic years in Columbus to play two seasons on the football field. If Smith cannot help this team immediately he would be considered a bust because as I mentioned before, he only has two years on the football field in Columbus. I expect him to see plenty of time at wide receiver this year. I think he exceeds all expectations and becomes Ohio State's second best wide receiver by the season's end.

Athlete Dontre Wilson, DeSoto (TX)

Wilson was once committed to Oregon, but chose the Buckeyes after Chip Kelly's departure for the NFL. A pure burner, Wilson is extremely fast  maybe the fastest player the Buckeyes signed  – making him a very good fit in the slot to start his career at Ohio State. I'm not sure how many touches he'll get this year, but when he does touch the ball, think big play.


Comments Show All Comments

RBuck's picture

No Bosa? I think he'll definitely be in the two-deep.

Long live the southend.

osu07asu10's picture

Even with losing as many players from the D Line as we did, it will take some injuries for Bosa to really see some PT this coming season. Two-deep by years end? Definitely a possibility but Washington and Spence have the ends locked up with Marcus having a very strong spring to spell them. Bosa, as physically ready as he is, isn't suited to play the interior line position as a freshman.
it has nothing to do with Bosa, I just think we're going to have some depth on the line and unless he does huge things with his few early season opportunities it will be tough sledding 

CJDPHoS Board of Directors // Best friends with Homey Hache

The 0 is silent.

otrain2416's picture

Bosa will have a year similar to Washington did last year. He'll be in the rotation, fine tune his technique through out the season because he will realize he can't get away with bull rushing everyone like he did in high school, he'll show flashes get a few sacks but will be raw as a freshman

We were born to love Ohio State and hate that team up north.

osubuck57's picture

On offense,would have to agree with Marshall and Dontre.Would add EZE but our RB depth is too deep for him to see any time as a freshman.Think he redshirts even though I know Urban doesn't like to do that.Hyde and Smith are gonna be our homerun  hitters out of the backfield with Dunn and Ball getting a few mop-up duties.Defense,the only one I might switch out is Mitchell for Johnson,out of preference,no real basis or stats to back it up.Good with either though.Think both might see the field as freshmen though,in spot duty or special teams,for sure.Nice article Miles.


tdible2132's picture

Shocked not to see Bosa on there, but then again we have so many guys that could possibly contribute that someone's always bound to be left off the list.  Still think Bosa may be our biggest freshman contributor though.

Miles Joseph's picture

If I did four, Bosa definitely would've been there. 

Hovenaut's picture

More offseason goodness, exactly the stuff to sate (somewhat) the anticipation.

Really like the youngsters on defense - Bell, Apple, Johnson, Sosa, Price and The Abusement Park. Think they all contribute, especially Bell and Apple.

Marshall's athleticism, Wilson's speed and Smith's experience lead them to serious pt on the offensive side of things.

It's great to have such young talent, better yet if they can play early and/or often. Plenty of potential in this group on both sides of the ball.

RBuck's picture

Manny Sosa? :)

Long live the southend.

Hovenaut's picture

I subosa know these guys names by now......

bukyze's picture

I completely agree with your defensive assessment, with Apple being number one.  I too see him getting significant playing time as the season goes by.  Offensively, I don't see anyone getting any significant time. I think Wilson and Marshall will get an even number of touches.  But who knows, one of them could easily bust out.  Hopefully.

gobucks96's picture

Really think Johnson sees the field before Mitchell?

lljjgg's picture

Mike Mitchell is an athletic freak, and someone I'm incredibly excited to see on the field. That said, iirc the biggest critique against him as far as recruiting sites were concerned was that he was relatively new to the position of LB. So while I think he'll be physically ready, he may need a year or so to mentally transition to the position at the college level. Trey Johnson on the otherhand (again, iirc) has always played LB, so he may be a little closer to where he needs to be in terms of mentally transitioning to the college game. 

oregonianbuckeye's picture

Nice article, Miles. I tend to agree with the 6 that you mentioned. I do think that Wilson may get a shot at special teams, and may be a big play maker there. The other guys I could see stepping up this year are Mitchell, Price and Lisle. Both Price and Lisle will be studs, and the lack of depth on the lines may lead to them being important contributors. That will become especially true if we have any injuries. Really excited to see this class in the S&G!

avail31678's picture

Yeah, Dontre returning kicks sounds like a no-brainer to me...

TheBadOwl's picture

You forgot about Sprinkle under defensive players.

When I walked in this morning and saw the flag was at half mast I thought, "Alright, another bureaucrat ate it." but then I saw it was Li'l Sebastian. Half mast is too high. Show some damn respect.

lljjgg's picture

FWIW -- I watched a re-airing of the Ohio North v South game on tv a few days ago, and as much as it may surprise people to hear, at 6'2" 210 Chris Worley genuinely reminded me of Ryan Shazier his Freshman year before he bulked up. Not always making the right read, but excellent closing speed, always around the ball, never gives up on plays, and packs a tremendous punch when he gets to the ball-carrier (decleated a few players during that game alone).

I'll be curious to see where they end up putting Worley once he gets to OSU. If they decide to keep him at OLB and work to add about 20 lbs of muscle (not easy, but Shazier was able to do it), I think I could honestly see him as Shazier's successor down the line, which is certainly shocking for me as someone who wasn't that high on Worley when he originally signed on. 

Oakland Buckeye's picture

Agree with Bell, Bosa is a boss but 2 deep pretty established at DE, Apple yes, and Mithchell is way to gifted to be listed behind Johnson. Also - seems like Sprinkle gets forgotten about more than any kid in this class - nothing more than a hunch, but I think he is a 3 star blow up on this team ala AJ Hawk.
Offense, not really help needed this year with Hall back - , cept RT.

villagebuckeye's picture

Just who is the two deep at DE?  The starters are set but I really think the two deep is pretty much up for grabs

Chad Peltier's picture

At first I thought that it was a young Sabino instead of Jalin in the picture

AJW_16's picture

Nice read. Getting stoked for the season (only a few more months!). A bit off-topic, but Vonn Bell looks like a BAMF with suspenders; one of a few who can pull it off.

"Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you." 

dan_isaacs's picture

"I'm going to go out on a limb and say Johnson will be a starter in 4-3 sets for Ohio State."
Joshua Perry farts in your general direction.

Dan Isaacs

Hayesedandconfused's picture

Hey he only picked three on each side of the ball.  I think we all think every guy in this class is going to be a stud.  Which they all will be.  Just not all of them as freshmen.  

One Bad Buckeye's picture

After reading this article and the comments, I've come to one conclusion.....we're going to kick a lot of people's asses!!!!!

"I'm One Bad Buckeye, and I approve this message."

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

This article gets me fired up!  It is football time yet!!!

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

I would also add Bosa and Mike Mitchell to the list.  I think both will have some good contributions next year. 

SeattleBuckeye's picture

I agree that Trey Johnson has great potential.  He diagnoses plays quickly, avoids blocks, takes good angles, and explodes to the ball.  Other than Shazier, no linebacker on the team has those skills.  I'll bet he gets a strong look at SAM and even MIKE unless Grant has a monster camp. 
I think we'll see Apple and Bell here and there in nickel and dime, but the coaches seemed pretty happy with Powell's size and effort at star.  In 2014, I'd guess that Apple takes over for Roby, and Bell takes one of the safety spots.
Folks seem excited about Bosa and Mitchell.  Bosa bulls past high school linemen easily enough, but he will probably need some time to develop physically before he can do that in the big ten.  Mitchell is freakishly fast and strong, but he doesn't show the capacity for play diagnosis that Johnson has.  Many of Mitchell's best highlights are blitzes, not reads.  I think Johnson is going to be a better LB, at least in the short-term.

Shangheyed's picture

Buckeye in the HAI!

rkylet83's picture

I think James Clark has a great shot at being a game changer on special teams.  He is by far the fastest guy we have coming in, and I would love to see that speed returning punts or kickoffs.

avail31678's picture

By far the fastest guy?  Do you really mean that?  He could potentially be the fastest, but by far?
Even the writer says Dontre could be the fastest in this class. 
If you or anyone has any concrete times to support or refute, I'm all ears.  I'm not saying you're wrong, I'm just curious.  Let the discussion begin :) 
(BTW this is a good "issue" to have - "Oh no!  We have TWO really fast guys?  But who will be the fastest?")

rkylet83's picture

Agreed.  Great "issue" to have.  I just compared watching tape and track and field times.  He just seems to jump out to me.  Honestly he reminds me of Ted Ginn when he gets open field. Either way this class is loaded with speed.
James Clark