Redshirts More Common at Ohio State than One Might Think

By Kyle Rowland on December 24, 2013 at 9:15a
Despite his lofty status, linebacker Mike Mitchell has not played in 2013.

For two years, Ohio State fans and recruits have listened as Urban Meyer said the Buckeyes are not in the redshirt business. The 2013 season presented a contrasting set of circumstances. A handful of talented freshman and even sophomores and a junior appear destined to redshirt unless something drastic occurs during the Orange Bowl.

Jalin Marshall, Mike Mitchell, Michael Thomas, Bri’onte Dunn and Corey Smith are the most prominent players yet to appear in a game this season. Last year, Tyvis Powell, Warren Ball, Cardale Jones, Pat Elflein and Kyle Dodson were among the redshirtees.

Meyer’s doctrine isn’t to be taken literally. It’s more a declaration of not accepting projects or players not deemed ready to play immediately. Ohio State recruits at a level where it wants impact players who can contribute in Year 1. Meyer has not minced words. If you don’t play your freshman season – or any season, for that matter – it means you weren’t good enough.

But that doesn’t mean redshirts should be frowned upon. Powell became a trusted defender in 2013 after gaining experience on the scout team last year. Elflein did the same, becoming a de facto starter on the offensive line when Marcus Hall used poor judgment and missed the better part of two games.

The aforementioned candidates to redshirt this season are “on call,” according to Meyer. They’re ready to play, but only in a dire situation. At the same time, Meyer doesn’t want to waste a year of eligibility. For instance, Dunn could become a feature back next season with the departure of Carlos Hyde and Jordan Hall. There was no space for Dunn in 2013, though, so Meyer would rather get three more years out of him.

“We don’t really redshirt, but there are some guys that could be fine players down the road,” Meyer said after the Florida A&M game. “I just didn’t want to burn a year to get them 5 or 10 plays, so that's the decision we made.”

Instead, walk-ons and scout team performers received their rightful moment in the sun – literally on a warm afternoon inside Ohio Stadium. Even four- and five-star recruits aren’t always ready to begin a star-studded career the moment they arrive on campus.

Destination Redshirt
Pos PLayer Year
CB Eli Apple FR
QB J.T. Barrett FR
TE Marcus Baugh FR
WR James Clark FR
CB Gareon Conley FR
DT Michael Hill FR
DE Tyquan Lewis FR
OL Evan Lisle FR
WR Jalin Marshall FR
LB Mike Mitchell FR
DT Donovan Munger FR
OL Billy Price FR
DL Tracy Sprinkle FR
S Jayme Thompson FR
DB Chris Worley FR
RB Bri'onte Dunn SO
WR Michael Thomas SO
WR Corey Smith JR
OL Antonio Underwood JR

The expectation in July and August was the 2013 recruiting class would burst onto the college scene and engineer a championship run for the Buckeyes. Defensive lineman Joey Bosa was named to numerous freshman All-American teams, but Dontre Wilson didn’t dazzle consistently. Fellow running back Ezekiel Elliott displayed promise while no other skill player greatly impacted the offense. Vonn Bell was a Signing Day savior and proceeded to play sparingly, mostly on special teams.

It’s not to say their future or Ohio State’s isn’t set up for success. The verdict just shows the first season didn’t go quite according to plan. As injuries mounted, the Buckeyes turned to veterans whose careers were nondescript.

Bell, Eli Apple and Cam Burrows were each overlooked as the secondary faltered with poor play and injuries. Many believed those true freshmen were more viable options than Pitt Brown and Armani Reeves. The same occurred with depth at linebacker. Freshman Trey Johnson appeared on the field, but not Mitchell, a coveted five-star prospect.

“Sometimes those young guys, their opportunities are going to arise at certain times,” defensive coordinator Luke Fickell said.

For Marshall, a wide receiver, a concussion in fall camp hampered his ability to learn the offense and get up to speed with the college game. Although Wilson totaled 441 yards of offense and three touchdowns, his lack of game-breaking plays was perhaps more surprising than other freshmen not seeing the field at all. In the season’s two biggest games – Michigan and Michigan State – Wilson didn’t record any stats and was ejected against the Wolverines. 

The hype surrounding Wilson reached mythic levels before the season started. It did him no favors as unrealistic expectations were formed. The knock on Wilson, according to Meyer, was his raw skill set. The head coach wanted a more complete player who could run, catch passes and block.

All those characteristics will likely become more developed during bowl prep and during the offseason. Next season, Wilson should see more opportunities to be involved in the run game with Hyde’s exodus.

Sparks and electricity could be on the menu for 2014.


Comments Show All Comments

osu07asu10's picture

Nice update, excited to see these guys in the future!

CJDPHoS Board of Directors // Best friends with Homey Hache

The 0 is silent.

BeijingBucks's picture

the sheer volume of unseen players is daunting.  The results of voraciously following the recruiting drama are a constant clamoring for players to shine the second they step on campus.  Leave the one and dones to BBall... I like a seasoned calm team with a side of uber freakishly talented freshmen.  

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

Buckeye1004's picture

I must plea ignorance....but I like the way that Meyer handles the redshirts at the end of the year.  Is this a common practice?

Furious George 27's picture

I would have to agree on not burning a season on a hand full of plays in a well decided game. I would say that the red-shirt players faced better competition in practice the majority of the time. The only issue not planned for was the injury to Bryant.

Yeah, well…that’s just like, your opinion, man.

MN Buckeye's picture

I think Urban recruits with the expectation that freshmen have the opportunity to play right away. Stuff happens, including injuries, the need for physical and mental growth and maturity, acclimation to college life, and a whole host of other possibilities. 

Buckinthemiddle's picture

I think the guy that benefits from a redshirt the most will be J.T. Barrett. If Braxton leaves this year, that's the guy I believe will be the next QB. I'm not knocking Cardale Jones, who has great size and athleticism. However, that seems to be a recurring theme at QB. I hate to say it, but we've had a couple guys in a row who are athletes playing QB. This kid is a true QB who can run, not the other way around. I love the fact they went to Texas to go get this kid. Kenny G would attest, I'm sure.

"I'm in favor of it" - John McKay, on the execution of his team.

Crimson's picture

JT Barrett wasn't playing either way.  If Braxton had left last year, it would have been Kenny Guiton, Cardale Jones, and then JT Barrett.  Next year, he'll be fighting for second string, and many are speculating that he'll get it (or starting if Braxton leaves).

Buckinthemiddle's picture

I'm very aware that he would not have played this year. What I was saying is that he is fortunate to have the opportunity to use a redshirt due to the current make up of the team. Not really sure what the point is that you're making. As stated in my comment, this would be an "if" situation.

"I'm in favor of it" - John McKay, on the execution of his team.

Crimson's picture

Okay, then there's two ways to take your first statement.  One is that JT benefits most from there being a redshirt versus there not being one, which is apparently what you meant.  The other is who benefits from taking a redshirt versus not taking one, which is what I meant.  JT does not benefit from the second scenario, because he would never see the field with the injury he sustained in HS.  I think the second scenario is more realistic, considering we aren't debating whether there should be a redshirt option for players or not.

Toilrt Paper's picture

JT might not have been 100% physically ready to play in the first couple of games this year.
This bring us an interesting question. If you have a serious injury, very late in your Senior year of high school, have been offered and accepted a scholarship and the college honors the scolly offer on signing day. You aren't ready physically to play as a Freshman. Can you request a medical redshirt without playing one play in your Freshman year?

Crimson's picture

I've gathered that the answer is no.  You have to take a redshirt before a medical redshirt.

LouBuck35's picture

I have no problems whatsoever with the way UFM does business.  The recruiting practices between the last 2 regimes seem very different.  Under Tress, we had a lot of 3-4 star guys, sometimes a 5 star sprinkled in.  But it seemed like we put our eggs in those high star guys do develop and contribute, and if they didn't, there wasn't a ton of star power waiting in the wings(Mike D'Andrea, Curtis Grant until recently, Justin Zwick).  I know there are examples that deviate from this and we've had more unheralded guys step up in their place, so don't hammer me on that.
I like that UFM breeds competition, almost to excess.  He's going to get every great player out there.  Not worried about recruiting over someone, or guaranteeing anyone's spot.  Win the job or next man up.  And even if you happen to lose some of those guys to transfers, you still should have plenty of depth at those positions.  It hopefully prevents there being a glaring need at any one area.

I want a fall Saturday in Ohio Stadium..

woodcocklives@osu's picture

UM3 has a different approach that the offensive wizards amongst our fan base finds refreshing?  Stunning ....  Now, back to the absolute worst fundamental defense we've seen at Ohio State in the last 20 years......

-1 HS
LouBuck35's picture

I'm not sure I follow your response.  I agree that the defense needs attention, but its not due to a lack of recruiting effort.  Perfect storm of injuries, transfers, overall lack of depth at certain positions, and coaching/absorption of concepts made the defense what it currently is.  Not all recruits, as evidenced by the write up, are ready to walk in and contribute - 5 Star or not.  But if UFM can continue to bring in the type of caliber recruits that he has been and make the necessary adjustments to the defensive side of the ball - we'll be just fine.

I want a fall Saturday in Ohio Stadium..

Toilrt Paper's picture

ADD, not sure some in the secondary were bright enough to get the basics they have been coached to do long before they got to Ohio State.

Scarlet_Lutefisk's picture

But it seemed like we put our eggs in those high star guys do develop and contribute, and if they didn't, there wasn't a ton of star power waiting in the wings(Mike D'Andrea, Curtis Grant until recently, Justin Zwick).

I find your theory to be somewhat flawed.
Mike D'Andrea came in the same year as A.J. Hawk & Bobby Carpenter,one of the best LB duos to ever line up at Ohio State. There were a couple of other 4* linebackers in that class (Kudla & Stan White) who were later moved to other positions & found success.
The "other" QB signed with Justin Zwick won the Heisman trophy.
LB Curtis Grant was in the same class as Ryan Shazier. The current LB situation has less to do with putting all the eggs in Grant's basket as it does with Chad Hagan & Scott McVey suffering career ending injuries in addition to Dorian Bell, Jordan Whiting, Ejuan Price & David Perkins transferring.

LouBuck35's picture

I agree that it is flawed.  I guess the point is, in those scenarios described - it was good that we had some less heralded guys who were able to step up, provide depth and ultimately play like 5 star guys.  It's well chronicled that Hawk was a 3 star guy with really only 2-3 major D1 offers.  The "other" QB offered came in late in the game, with questions as to what position he would play.  A lot of folks at the time though Zwick was the second coming - we were fortunate that Troy developed his game as a QB when JZ proved he couldn't get it done consistently.
That's more my point/theory if you want to call it that. Under UFM, the hope is to bring it as many high caliber guys as you can and they let them duke it out for playing time.  I would rather have it that way than hope that you have some quality guys waiting in the wings if your "top tier" guys can't adjust to the college game, transfer, or get injured.  But your points are well taken and totally correct.  Thanks.

I want a fall Saturday in Ohio Stadium..

ScarletGray43157's picture

Stan White was a legacy who turned out to be over-rated as a 4-star at LB.  
Mike D'Andrea had a chronic injury problem that just could not be solved.  
Hawk was not rated as highly but turned out to be a player and is still playing at a high level in the NFL.  
Star ratings don't always translate to success, and the criteria are sometimes subjective.  Some guys can balance the non-football responsibilities better than others.  Some can't adjust to the college-level game physically, and some can't adjust mentally.  
It's all part of the fun...

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

bull1214's picture

the simple fact is that there are guys on the roster with as much hype as the guys coming in. the best player plays should always be the rule. redshirting is hard for guys tho who havent ever missed a play let alone a whole season. redshirting is very necessary in alot of cases tho. in hindsight, dontre would have benefitted greatly by redshirting. i doubt he would have accepted that tho. it was probly a key point during his recruitment.

Calgarybuck's picture

What about Darren Lee?

FROMTHE18's picture

I dont see why players would have a problem if they wouldnt receive substantial PT. Might as well keep the year of eligibility to have down the line. 

BME_Buckeye's picture

When will we officially know who gets a red shirt?

Look closely, because the closer you think you are, the less you will actually see.


Crimson's picture

Once the bowl game is over.

Chise47's picture

Man, this post deserves a nod worthy of something Ramzy would write/type!! Wish I could pass you the Four Roses & toast.
"Meyer's doctrine isn't to be taken literally.", Kudos!! Too many take words in a presser  literal. Big mistake when looking for yet to be determined potential. My coach used to tell me, (after a big knucklehead mistake no less.)," have potential boy. Know what that means ? Right now you ain't worth shhhhhh....!!! Get to the bench!!!"
Patience 'Grasshopper.' That's the rule of thumb w/kids. Because that's what these young men actually are, kids, entrusted to Buckeye Nation.
So when you read his "Twitter", & think he is a traitor. Or misses a block/tackle, & we lose, remember, these are kids who YOU put expectations on that you probably couldn't live up to given 1,000 chances.
It's the main reason I am no longer a member of,"The Johnson's Tequila Co.: Lick,(the salt),suck,(down the tequila), & swallow, don't mind the bitter after taste."
I now sip, slowly, Bourbon & enjoy my ride.
P.S. I was still shocked to see Eli Apple redshirted, just sayin'.

Hovenaut's picture

Mental bookmark for future reference....appreciate the update.

a.buck's picture

Yeah I was really disappointed with Wilson this year. He only averaged 9 yards everytime he touched the ball. Hopefully he can improve over the summer.

bull1214's picture

you have to admit that when a player with his potential is not used at all in tough games and barely used in several others it says alot. he had a nice average per touch but his "impact" on the outcome of games wasnt exactly worth burning a year.

a.buck's picture

Wilson's season ended flat because he was kicked out of "The" game and was probably not utilized as much in the conference championship because he was in the dog house with Hall. I also think that he impacted games more than his stats would indicate because defenses had to key in on him when he was in the game. No other player on the offense could provide the dimension that Wilson did.

bull1214's picture

ur right his season did end flat and before that there were SEVERAL threads asking why he wasnt being used. i think ur confusing his potential with his production. he gained some experience but if he stays 4 years and lives upto the potential, we'll be wishing he was redshirted so he'd have one more. personally, i think he's 3 and done regardless. so its probly a moot point anyway.

fanfarris's picture

Folks why are you trying hard to not call a Spade, Spade? We lost our chance to go to the NC game because of our poor Defense.Any one disagree?? If you do ,then look at how our offense rank nationaly compared to our Defense..I hope that there will be changes coming on the Defensive side.


FloridaBuck's picture

Subpar coaching, mediocre LB play (at best), and pitiful play in the secondary.  Its great to blast points on the scoreboard, but a dominating D wins championships.  We are stacked on the D line next year and they played great this year.  We have tons of talent coming in at LB.  My concern is a lot of inexperience at Corner and I don't even know what to say at Safety.  FS and SS are two of the most undervalued positions in football and are extremely important.  Assuming Bryant doesnt come back, Tanner and Bell are completely unproven.  We need to lock down in pass coverage with Man D and free up our beasts in the front 7 to wreak havoc, but unfortunately our secondary does nothing but make me extremely nervous.  Hopefully we can fix some of the issues.   
Edit:  "Mediocre LB play" outside of RDS, of course. 

dubjayfootball90's picture

Looking at all those redshirts... Those are some freaking talented people. To have another year of eligibility is huge. But either way, whether you play on saturdays or not, you still have the opportunity to get experience. It is what you do with those opportunities that shows how much you progress in a year. Let us hope that all those young men took it as a seriously chance to get one step closer to world beater status.

You can feed a bobcat all the chili it wants. That don't mean it's going to crap out diamonds.

Seattle Linga's picture

Remember the upper classmen were not Urbans guys and look what he did - just wait a couple of more years.

woodcocklives@osu's picture

"just wait" ...that's a familiar refrain.

-1 HS
Scarlet_Lutefisk's picture

Those redshirts mean that at the most Ohio State never fielded more than 63 scholarship players this season.
Think about that the next time you hear a PSU cultist going on about Bobby O'Brady is the only coach in existence who could bring home 7 wins with such small numbers.

Seattle Linga's picture

Those fans are always wearing the stupid rose colored glasses. Kind of like the Joe Pa deal. The alumni knew that what he did was wrong yet the student body thought he was fired unjustly.

AndyVance's picture

I was thinking the same thing - we're still down a few scholarships anyway, which no one in the media ever seemed to mention these past couple of seasons...

Toilrt Paper's picture

If you are a Freshman that didn't play and the staff didn't suggest you should redshirt, you might seriously think about transferring. A player WILL NOT be given a redshirt if they are not thought worthy of playing down road.

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

Jalin Marshall

I can't wait to see him finally play.

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