Wilson's Role Expanding in Ohio State's Offense (and that Should Worry Defensive Coordinators)

By Kyle Rowland on September 16, 2013 at 9:15a

BERKELEY, Calif. – Seven Ohio State players caught a pass in the Buckeyes’ 52-34 win at Cal Saturday night. Another four (minus the quarterback) received a carry. By the end of the night, Ohio State eclipsed the 600-yard mark for the first time in the Urban Meyer era. It was the all-around effort Meyer and Tom Herman have spent the past year anticipating.

“Today was very much how we would like to play football offensively,” said Herman, after Ohio State flexed its offensive muscle for four quarters. 

Kenny Guiton and Jordan Hall’s performances stuck out for obvious reasons. But Dontre Wilson’s 153 all-purpose yards offered a glimpse of the future – and present. Wilson is a weapon the Buckeyes didn’t have last year. He’s precisely the style of game-changer Meyer has used in the past to haunt opposing defensive coordinators.

The diminutive Wilson possesses a skill set part running back and part receiver. He covers the definition of hybrid back, which helps explain the spike in touches. Already, he’s become a favorite to get the ball in his hands. Hall is the only skill player with more carries and receptions.

“I feel like they’re gaining a lot more trust in me,” Wilson said. “They have to really trust you. The things that I’m doing on the field and the things I’m showing them, I think I am doing really good and gaining their trust.”

Wilson gained 112 offensive yards on eight touches against the Bears. An additional 46 yards came via kick returns. Since a light sampling in the season opener, Wilson has been electrifying. 

With veterans who have progressed, the addition of Wilson only adds to the complexity of the offensive game plan, forcing opponents to prepare for a variety of playmakers. Wilson is one breakout game away from becoming a bona fide sensation.

“I see myself as a big time playmaker, as a game changer,” he said. “Every time I get in I tell myself that.”

Braxton Miller’s absence the past two weeks has elevated Wilson’s importance and status. When healthy, Miller is the Buckeyes most dynamic offensive threat. That title belongs to Wilson with Miller on the sideline.

And it’s something Wilson doesn’t take lightly. He may be young, but smarts are part of his game. Forward thinking and a high football IQ make him a desirable target for Miller and Guiton.

“Now, there are some other guys that have some breakaway ability. No. 1 is the one guy that comes to my head.”

“I could see how mature he was when he first got here,” Miller said. “Throwing to him is a different kind of feel. He says, ‘Throw the ball anywhere and I’ll go get it.’ And I’m like, ‘What? A receiver is telling me throw it wherever I want? Alright.’ So I threw it behind him and that boy landed on his back and caught it. I’m like, ‘Wow, boy, you’ve got something special.’ It’s nice knowing I’ve got somebody special on the team that’s a playmaker. It feels good.”

But it’s world-class speed that separates Wilson. He’s run a 4.33 40 and become a Texas high school legend, a tall order in the football-mad state. But when you have more than 4,400 yards and 81 touchdowns to your name, credit is due.

“Without Braxton, we lose the threat of a running QB,” Wilson said. “They bring me in to stretch [the field] and just make a big play when the time is needed. Every time I get the ball, I’m trying to show the coaches what I can do.”

Seven months ago it was the other way around. Meyer and Herman were selling Wilson, then an Oregon commit, on coming to Ohio State and mimicking the role of Percy Harvin. The sweet-talking worked.

Now, Wilson is proving his coaches right in continuing to pursue him. If he were a car, people would talk about going from 0-60 in 4.2 seconds. No player was discussed more than Wilson in the buildup to the season, not even a quarterback that finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting a year ago.

As the season advances, Wilson’s importance will only grow in stature. He’s built to give Big Ten teams fits. Space, mismatches and the edge are all points where it’s off to the races for Wilson, and back to the drawing board for defenses. 

Meyer tried to temper the hype in August. Even he couldn’t deny Wilson’s potential, though, once fall camp commenced. When fans finally saw him perform in a game, the burgeoning star was shining bright.

“Last year our breakaway talent was only No. 5,” Meyer said. “Now, there are some other guys that have some breakaway ability. No. 1 is the one guy that comes to my head. To have a horizontal threat in this offense other than your quarterback, that’s a must. That’s why we’re recruiting like we’re recruiting.”

Said Wilson: “I just come here and play football and do what I love.”


Comments Show All Comments

Jugdish's picture

You really have to love the confidence that Dontre has. He will only get better as the season goes along. The offense already has many weapons but Wilson's skill set adds to that to make it a defensive nightmare. Even though the Bucks have been lighting up the score board, I still don't believe they have reached their potential. I just wished we got the tight ends more involved. Meyer and Herman are a great match for putting together one of the most explosive offenses in college football.

Remember to get your wolverine spayed or neutered. TBDBITL

BuckeyeQ6's picture

I agree we haven't reached our potential yet...which is very exciting.  Now we can add the hammer (Hyde) and defenses will have to stop the big, powerful runners along with the quick, shifty runners (Wilson and Hall).  Add to that Braxton's scrambling ability and rumored passing game improvements and we'll be difficult to stop.  Plus with our defense, opponents will find it difficult to keep up.  [Mouth watering like a one of Pavlov's dogs] 

Edincostarica's picture

You gotta love it.  This young man is going to accomplish a lot while he is here.


BuckeyeBoyer85's picture

“I see myself as a big time playmaker, as a game changer,” Wilson said. “Every time I get in I tell myself that.”

I love the confidence, sky's the limit for Wilson. Can't wait to see him break a long TD run or a take a KO to the house.

Wayne Woodrow Hayes

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

Now, Wilson is proving his couches right in continuing to pursue him.

Couches can chase you now?

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

Earle's picture

I often hear mine calling my name, but it has never actually moved.

Snarkies gonna snark. 

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

I guess it wants to go back to Pee Wee's house.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

Boxley's picture

Mine definitely moves, especially when I sit on it. Gotta love them Lazy-boy couch recliners!

"...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done." President T. Roosevelt

txbucknut's picture

I really love seeing Wilson get significant touches so early. Clearly the kid is a playmaker. I am surprised, however, that Jalin Marshall has not seen any touches (as far as I can tell) this year. Is he injured, or just taking a little longer to come around as far as being game ready?

johnny11's picture

He got a concussion during camp. Missed a lot of time and coach Meyer said he was still learning a lot of the playbook.

txbucknut's picture

Ahhhh got it. Thanks!

cinserious's picture

Jalin's got redshirt written all over him.

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

One Bad Buckeye's picture

I actually notice my pupils dilate a little bit every time Wilson touches the ball.  

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

SnooBucki's picture

Boy its going to be interesting to see how this season plays out in regards to playing time. Jordan Hall is here to stay and how will Hyde fit back in to the rotation. Rod Smith was suspended one game and has hardly got on the field. How is it going to be for Hyde after missing three. Then we have Dunn, Ball and EZ wanting some touches as well.

CC's picture

I'd like to give some love to Devin Smith.  Last year he dropped a lot of balls, this year I can't recall any.  The guy has break-away speed and if he keeps catching the ball he'll obviously finish with a huge season.
Edit: Just noticed Philly Brown is actually listed as "Philly Brown" on ESPN.  He has no stats though.  Wonder if it is due to the name thing. 

d5k's picture

Definitely an underrated component of the offense.  All he does is catch 50+ yard touchdowns, lol.

will0327's picture

Wilson gets to top speed so fast its scary also what makes Wilson great also is that he doesn't dance around its one cut not losing speed....how many times did we see him make one cut then put his head down ...hes tough too. He also has the edge to him too...see how Cals players was in his face and he didn't back down not once ...as freshman that is pretty cool.
over/under 1000 yards total offense for Dontre this year ?


averagejoel419's picture

Under for total offense, but over for all-purpose yards. It will be very close though IMO.

2009buckeye's picture

Over, he has been solid with the ball in his hand and his role is only going to expand.  He is only a block away from taking it the distance multiple time.  With eight touches and 100+ yards I don't see how he doesn't get 1000 yards.

Right Again's picture

Its only a matter of time with Dontre.  He's been a couple shoestring tackles and a couple of desperation neck tackles away from having a few highlight reel touchdown runs in his first 3 games.  I'm on the edge of my seat every time he gets the ball 

CC's picture

I agree. I have the feeling he breaks a big one when we need it.  ie vs. Wisconsin, NW or Penn State.

saevel25's picture

What i like is, Wilson doesn't run out of bounds. He fights for every yard. He's going to be a special one.

Maestro's picture

Was certainly impressed by his willingness to lower his shoulder and gain extra yards.

vacuuming sucks

will0327's picture

Wilson is not just living up to the hype ....hes living past it ....the kid is avg. like 10 yards a pop ...everytime he touches the ball its almost a first down everytime


Cusbuck's picture

Wilson is an exciting player for sure.  He's like a lil' jitterbug out there.  zing zang zoom.

I'm not saying,  I'm just saying.

FROMTHE18's picture

Cant wait for his first real game breaking touchdown. He's getting closer and closer. 

buckguyfan1's picture

Yes, it's only a matter of time.  I see a TD on a kick-return soon.

okaycody's picture

I love how UFM is very reserved and sly about his excitement for what Dontre promises to be/already is. Obviously keeping his giddy-ness contained, yet I can't help but picture him alone in his office, rewinding Dontre's two big gains from the Cal game with a giant mischievous grin on his face while pondering all the ways he is going to utilize him in the years to come, and the fact that he is only a true freshman. 

Earle's picture

He's like a competent Doofenshmirtz, just waiting to unleash the full power of his Wilson-enator on the Tri-State Area that is the B1G.

Snarkies gonna snark. 

Maestro's picture

there will be no Perry to foil this plan.

vacuuming sucks

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

Isn't Saban the same size as Perry?

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

pjtobin's picture

I am on his band wagon. He is a beast!

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

Athens BuckCat's picture

love watching Wilson get to the edge in a flash, kid's got serious wheels

D-Day0043's picture

This kid is going to be the boogeyman for B1G defenses. He is a rocket with legs and he is only going to get better. 
In a couple years when Meyer gets all of his speed recruits into the system, this is going to be the fastest football team on Earth.
F**k SEC speed. It's Ohio State speed now.

I am D-Day0043 and I approve this message.

ScarletNGrey01's picture

The kid is electrifying and exciting as hell.  Yeah, the Buckeye Fever crew interviewed him and well, let's just say he is certainly not lacking in confidence LOL.  I do strongly disagree with this assertion:

“Without Braxton, we lose the threat of a running QB,” Wilson said.

Kenny G. has proven to be a dual threat QB, he picked up some nice running yardage that often were key plays last Saturday, and the week before also.

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

ziplock007's picture

I like how Urban values game breakers...
I remember back in 2004 during Ted Ginn Jr.'s freshman year... He took CFB by storm.  He averaged a point per touch that year...  In 12 games it would be interesting to compare Wilsons FR campaign to Ginn's.
Unfortunately, Hall of Fame Worthy HC Jim Tressel & Worst OC Ever Jim Bollman decided to make him the #3 WR in 2005 behind Holmes and Gonzalez.  I believe 2005 was a disappearing act for Ginn.

ScarletNGrey01's picture

Santonio Holmes was a heck of a receiver (after college became a Super Bowl MVP) and Anthony Gonzalez was kind of a college version of a Wes Welker, ran great routes.  Ginn was more of a straight line sprint kind of a guy, was not that good in the seams or running routes.  Don't get me wrong, loved the kid.  I think Devin Smith is a better WR than Ginn was, Ginn could not make those over the back, twisting catches (and of course Smith's one-handed grab last season will be on the highlight reels for a long long time).

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

ScarletGray43157's picture

Browns fans might remember Eric Metcalf when they watch D. Wilson in action.  Dontre definitely comes under the heading of "something special", a player who has aspects to his game that cannot be taught but instead are God-given talent.  It is lots of fun having one like that on your side.  

In old Ohio there's a team that's known throughout the land...

WhySoSerious's picture

Baby beast mode. Im not a fan for all the neck tackles the boy goes through, but damn am i fan of D.Wilson. I predicted he would score a game ago and he did so what the hell i think he gets one more this coming game.


Like the ball in the stands, we balls out