Urban's Thirteens: Meyer's First Full Class Could be the Start of Something Big

By Kyle Rowland on August 27, 2013 at 9:15a
40 Comments
The Class of 2013.

The 2008 Ohio State recruiting class was billed as a program savior. The Brew Crew was the perfect remedy for the Buckeyes, who were coming off consecutive losses in the national championship game. Big wins came along, as did shame. Some believed it was style and no substance.

Five years hence, Ohio State welcomes another ballyhooed class. But they don’t need fancy nicknames. All that’s needed is a football and field to prove their worth and value to a national title contender.

“I’ve been impressed by a lot of the freshmen, just the way they handle themselves,” said senior left tackle Jack Mewhort. “They’re very mature kids and came in here to work. I think that will show on the field. They’ve all come out and handled themselves very well in fall camp. I’m proud of them so far.”

Dontre Wilson is the unquestioned centerpiece of the 2013 recruiting class, ranked No. 1 in the nation by some. The DeSoto, Texas, native gives Urban Meyer and Tom Herman a piece to the puzzle that was missing during the undefeated 2012 season. Think of a sports car enthusiast driving a Camry for a year before unveiling a brand new Lamborghini. That’s why Meyer and Herman are so amped for what’s to come.

Fans have been hearing about Wilson since he reneged on his commitment to the fast-paced Oregon Ducks and chose to be a part of the Buckeyes’ up-tempo offense. Then he enrolled over the summer and the legend of Wilson grew even more. Upperclassmen raved about the running back who doubles as a wide receiver.

“He’s a smart dude, a smart football player,” said senior wide receiver Philly Brown. “When you learn concepts, you learn every position. It’s easy for him.”

So easy that he – and other freshmen skill players – made veteran defenders look like fools.

“I’m excited to see what those guys do against someone else,” said junior linebacker Ryan Shazier. “The first time we went against them we were kind of shocked and surprised when we saw some of the things they were able to do. I can’t wait for the world to see what they can do.”

Some of Ohio State’s greatest teams have enjoyed contributions from first-year players. In 1968, the Super Sophs – Rex Kern, Jack Tatum, Jim Stillwagon, Bruce Jankowski, John Brockington, Mike Sensibaugh, Jan White, Tim Anderson, Larry Zelina, Mike Vladich, Doug Adams and Mark Debevc – were integral in the Buckeyes first national championship in 14 years. Thirty-four years later, freshmen Maurice Clarett and A.J. Hawk helped end a title drought in Columbus.

Archie Griffin became a freshman sensation in 1972, while David Boston, Michael Wiley and Andy Katzenmoyer helped spur Ohio State to the 1997 Rose Bowl.

Freshmen have long held important roles for high-caliber teams. Few coaches hold first-year players in such high regard than Meyer. He’s turned freshmen into difference makers at each stop of his head-coaching career. But no class compared to the legendary 2006 Florida Gators.

“Our theory is you don't redshirt, you play,” Meyer said. “We’re not saving them. When we recruit, we tell you you’re going to play. If you don’t play, it’s because you’re not good enough.”

Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin were major factors in Florida winning the national championship – against Ohio State. Two years later, they, along with Brandon Spikes, Riley Cooper, David Nelson and Ryan Stamper, formed the nucleus of one of the best college teams in recent memory.

But it was the performance during their freshmen season that laid the groundwork. In a 41-14 humiliation of Jim Tressel’s Buckeyes, the Gators played 12 true freshmen. Harvin finished with 82 total yards, making Ohio State defenders tackle air all night. Tebow had 39 yards rushing and a touchdown.

A heavy dose of veterans and youth is what made those Florida teams – and so many others – elite. And history could repeat itself for Meyer in 2013. There are juniors and seniors accompanied by freshmen with prominent responsibilities.

“I don’t think those guys are short on confidence. They’ll be all right.” -jACK MEWHORT

“The ‘06 [freshmen] injected a bunch of speed and playmakers into that 2006 team,” Meyer said. “I see very similar qualities, certainly on offense. You look again and you see what number that is and I feel like same way on offense. I feel a little bit of a jolt that’s really going to help us.”

Right now, there aren’t a whole lot of freshmen who will watch from the sideline on Saturday against Buffalo. On Monday, Meyer said Wilson, Ezekiel Elliott, Joey Bosa, Michael Hill and Cameron Johnston will play. That doesn’t include the dozens of others who should see game action in the second half.

When Brown was asked about his own unit, which features several members of the 2013 recruiting class, he couldn’t hold back with the praise.

“All of them, for real,” an excited Brown responded after being asked who’s stood out. “They’re all way ahead of where I thought they’d be at this point. That’s a credit to the coaches and us as leaders getting them where they need to be. [The freshmen] are all strides ahead of where I thought they’d be.”

Said Mewhort, about the freshmen as a whole: “I don’t think those guys are short on confidence. They’ll be all right. It’s more exciting than anything. They have a lot of older guys in their position group they can look at for advice.”

The toughest task of the day might rest with Wilson, who in all likelihood will return the Buckeyes’ first kick of the season. Meyer joked that the freshman speedster might hyperventilate.

“When I was a freshman I was waving a towel, he’s going to have a pretty important role,” senior safety Christian Bryant said of Wilson. “The feeling is unexplainable. The only thing I can tell him is to take a deep breath. He’s here for a reason. We all have confidence in him that he can get the job done.”

All the hype hasn’t led to any bristling among teammates. In fact, Brown said to keep upping the hype machine for Wilson. He can be described as diminutive, elusive and fast – all traits that strike fear in the opposing defense. At the same time, it stokes poise in Ohio State.

“I know he’ll do well,” Brown said. “We’ve had a couple scrimmages and he’s gotten reps with the ones where he’s shown up and made big plays. I have complete confidence in Dontre.

“He’s very humble, accepts a lot of coaching and works to get better. He didn’t come in here with a big head. He knows he’s a freshman.”

Perhaps the most meaningful and important moment for the freshmen won’t come on their first play, first time they touch the ball or first touchdown. It will happen when they walk down the southeast tunnel into the masses and run through the band and into the Horseshoe.

“Running out of the tunnel in Ohio Stadium for the first time, I don’t think there is anything like it in the world,” Mewhort said. “It’s definitely not something I’ll forget anytime soon. It’s a life changer. I’m excited for those guys to go out and see just how many people really come and support the Buckeyes on gameday. It’s going to be a lot of fun for those guys.”

And the veterans. In Pasadena on Jan. 6, it could be their combined effort that lifts Ohio State to its first national championship in more than a decade.

40 Comments

Comments

Otown Buckeye's picture

Trying to read this and concentrate on work-forgot the cover on my TPS report again.
 

"because we couldn't go for three"

jkrk's picture

Seriously. I'm wondering if 11W should go dark until Saturday so I can do anything this week.

buckeyeEddie27's picture

Didn't you get the Memo?

I know there's a game Saturday, and my ass will be there.

BierStube's picture

"No matter where you go, there you are." B. Banzai

cinserious's picture

We don't need no stinkin' work. We're trying to help Ohio State win its first title in over ten years.

Gone ham, be back soon...

DannyBeane's picture

10 years makes me feel old. It feels like it was yesterday for me. I was a senior in High School. Now I'm almost 30!

buckeyeEddie27's picture

The same boat.   We're in it.

I know there's a game Saturday, and my ass will be there.

PHATBUCK13's picture

Yeeaaahh....I'm gonna have to ask you to come in on Saaturrday....
 
Also, you have a meeting with the Bobs this afternoon...

OSU_undergrad's picture

One of the best parts of the article is the description of how humble Wilson is...I hope it's true. There seems to be character in this class.

Haybucks's picture

Many times a coach will lather up a recruit only to shelve him for what seems like eternity.

“Our theory is you don't redshirt, you play,” Meyer said. “We’re not saving them. When we recruit, we tell you you’re going to play. If you don’t play, it’s because you’re not good enough.”

Coach Meyer's take on playing time is refreshing for fans and players alike.  Is is Saturday yet?

I never make the mistake of arguing with people for whose opinions I have no respect.
- Edward Gibbon
 

BuckeyeBoyer85's picture

“Running out of the tunnel in Ohio Stadium for the first time, I don’t think there is anything like it in the world,” Mewhort said. “It’s definitely not something I’ll forget anytime soon. It’s a life changer. I’m excited for those guys to go out and see just how many people really come and support the Buckeyes on gameday. It’s going to be a lot of fun for those guys.”

 
 
this.

Wayne Woodrow Hayes

Dougger's picture

I like football

Oldschoolbuck's picture

Man, oh man; even I get chills thinking what it must be like coming out of the tunnel for the first time, going through the band, past the students in the South end of the 'Shoe. Wow!
And I'll admit (since I'm in good company with Urban), watching the band come on the field, doing script Ohio ... brings tears to my eyes.

ATXbucknut's picture

Please hurry, Saturday. I can't wait. I...d'oh! I just wet myself in anticipation of Saturday. This happens every year.

RunEddieRun1983's picture

Best case scenario for Saturday as a catalyst for the whole season, Buffalo kicks the ball to Dontre, and he houses it.  Send a message to the whole country.

I don't always downvote, but I do always downvote a Michigan fan trolling the Buckeye boards.

FROMTHE18's picture

thatd be ideal. I bet if we win the toss, we take the ball instead of do the usual defer until the second half. Be a shame if Buffalo decided to take the ball, wed have to wait until the start of the second half for his first return. I hope he doesnt try to do anything too silly like run backwards to try and get around the coverage team. But, if he does get even the slightest channel to run through...he gone.

cinserious's picture

I'm calling it now. Two Sports Center highlight clips of Dontre taking it to the house in his first collegiate game.

Gone ham, be back soon...

ToTheHouse's picture

Am seriously considering changing my account from TOTHEHOUSE...to TOTHENC-AGAIN!!!

IBLEEDSCARLETANDGRAY's picture

In just 2 years this class is going to be the heart and soul of the team. After this season there will only be handful of Tressel's recruits left (Braxton if he stays, a few others). These recent classes are going to have a TON of pressure on them. I get the feeling they're going to deliver when I read that even Jack Mewhort is impressed by them.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

ScarletNGrey01's picture

Great article and love the outstanding 11W site ... just wonder if we are all a little too "homerish" at this point about playing for the NC.  I fear we are setting ourselves up for a really hard fall.  If the buckeyes did win a NC against an SEC team it might have to rank as the greatest moment in Buckeye Nation football history given our dismal record against the SEC in bowl games.  I do see a whole new dynamic with Urban Meyer and his excellent coaching staff at the helm.  SEC fans, underneath their trolling and attempts to ridicule our program are most definitely nervous.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

buckz4evr's picture

I always felt that our teams were not mentally prepared to face the SEC in NC games.  I can't pinpoint it.  Tress was in enough NC games to know how to do it, but it seemed to me something was missing.  Maybe it was focus, maybe they got caught up in the hype?  I don't know. This is no knock on Tress.  Urban was in the SEC and won, so he knows exactly what the mentality of the players must be to win those games.  I am a little more confident of him conveying that mentality to his team. 

cinserious's picture

2006 NC with Heisman winner Troy Smith= OVERCONFIDENT!
2007 NC with Todd Boeckman under center= SCARED SH--LESS!

Gone ham, be back soon...

Squirrel Master's picture

I wouldn't say 2007 was scared shitless. They just didn't belong. Beanie Wells carried that team that year. It wasn't that good. It was really a rebuilding year after losing Ginn and Smith with some other players too.
2006 was a shit storm though! can say over confidence. Can say it was because Ginn went down on the first play. All I know is, worst day in my buckeye lifetime! Can't wait for it to be revenged!

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

WOLFofOHIO's picture

this wolf is ready for a season..
 

there is no greater joy than watching Michigan get slammed. in anything

Buckeye_Ryan's picture

First time commenting, long time reading - just wanted to say GO BUCKS!

Born a Buckeye, raised a Buckeye, will die a Buckeye.

Mirror Lake Jump's picture

Welcome to Eleven Warriors!

gumtape's picture

You should ask the moderators about getting a premium membership.

just another psycho, irrational, delusional Ohio St fan

Buckeye_Ryan's picture

Thanks Mirror Lake Jump & GumTape! Premium membership eh? You have my attention.

Born a Buckeye, raised a Buckeye, will die a Buckeye.

buckz4evr's picture

Another great article.  Thanks Kyle.

BierStube's picture

Actually .. I am kind of excited to watch any college ball ... common Thursday .. wet my appetite!

"No matter where you go, there you are." B. Banzai

cinserious's picture

I really hope Jalin Marshall (concussion) gets to be a part of the festivities. He would make a great freshman contributor as well.

Gone ham, be back soon...

M1CAH4's picture

 
all aboard the Urban train! we all know what happens when this baby gets rollin!

Squirrel Master's picture

all this talk about this freshman class and yet...
Noah Spence, Adolphus Washington, Tommy Schutt, Taylor Decker and Josh Perry.
The reason I think this team does have a very realistic chance at a NC is the perfect blend of veterans and super frosh! If this team was coffee, it would be Starbucks, Maxwell house and a shot of espresso all mixed into one! There are key seniors (Oline, Philly and Hyde), key juniors (Braxton, Roby, Shazier and Devin), and the sophomores/Freshmen.
all the doubting thomases can eat crow in 4 months because this team is pretty good!

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

gobucks96's picture

still want to see what Mike Mitchell can do on the field..

pjtobin's picture

I'm with you here. I knew someone else would say this first. I'm super excited to see him. I have to say though, I'm starting to get on the Dontre hype train. If he is the real deal I know what jersey to sport this year. Just today I decided to let myself actually envision a true h back at TOSU. I'm in. All aboard!!

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

Wesleyburgess1's picture

If I had to give up all the freshman but one player, I believe I would keep Mike Mitchell. HE IS AN ANIMAL! To be honest though, I know we are really good but... We aren't Alabama or the 06 Gators... (yet) and we shouldn't act like it either. Just remember there time has come to pass but ours has just arrived. GO BUCKEYES!

osupolo's picture

Hopefully Mitchell can get over the "freshman wall" and get some starts later in the year a la Little Animal and Hawk. It would be even better if he can do it by the time Wisconsin comes around.