Position Change Wakes Wilson From Slumber

By Kyle Rowland on March 31, 2014 at 9:15a

Kirk Irwin Photography

46 Comments

The first change came by switching numbers. Dontre Wilson returned to his roots in Texas and exchanged No. 1 for No. 2, his high school digit.

“I just felt like I needed to get back to me,” Wilson said. “It feels like me again. I had to get back to No. 2.”

The second – and most significant change – is his placement in practice, meeting rooms and game days. Wilson is no longer a running back.

An entire summer was spent obsessing over him. Wilson generated a hoopla that only appears sporadically through generations. Braxton Miller stoked it at Big Ten media days when he raved about the then-true freshman’s speed and elusiveness. 

The first pumping of the brakes came from head coach Urban Meyer. Surprise, surprise.

“Cool it with the Dontre,” he said last July.

Once the season started, Meyer didn’t have to worry about the media hyping Wilson. There were a handful of runs that built excitement. But Wilson’s year only yielded 460 yards of offense and three touchdowns. Underwhelming numbers for someone who was touted as the next Percy Harvin, though he did average almost nine yards per touch.

Still, fans grew impatient after hearing months of chatter regarding the game breaker. Meyer spoke to his lack of pass blocking, a need for added muscle and a better understanding of the playbook.

“My head wasn’t getting big with the hype,” Wilson said. “I just wanted to come in and play. The year didn’t turn out how I wanted it to.”

Wilson begins anew in 2014. He’s bigger, faster, stronger and smarter. He’s also a wide receiver. Gone are the days of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Wilson’s services are best used when he’s in space. But the hybrid role was an impossibility last season.  

“He couldn’t play receiver,” Herman said. “He didn’t know what the hell he was doing. He didn't know how to do it. He was 175 pounds or whatever the heck he was. So him and his ability limited us, and the ability doesn’t just include running fast and making guys miss. There’s a lot that goes into ability and usability in the offense.”

In the weeks since the Orange Bowl, Wilson’s made the Woody Hayes Athletic Center his second home. The window to learn last season shrunk by not enrolling in the spring, so he was forced to process information at a much quicker pace. The end result wasn’t always desired.

Wilson’s already ridded that aspect of his game. The dividends have been seen in practice with long runs and decisive action replacing unsure movements. Wilson is once again a bundle of kinetic energy always on the move.

“I feel way better. It’s more tiring, but it feels ways better,” he said, laughing. “Now I’m starting at the H, which is the most prolific position in our offense besides running back and quarterback. I’m getting a lot more touches and more involved in the game.”

Said Herman: “He’s had a great offseason and really took to the position. He’s still learning and still makes mistakes that you wish he wouldn’t at this stage in his career. But at the end of the day, he’s played tailback his entire life and to move him into this “hybrid” role, he hasn’t been doing it very long. He’s progressing, and he’s gotten stronger and bigger and learned technique, so the ability and his usability continues to rise with every step he takes.”

Wilson’s standing in the offense jumped tenfold. Last October, Meyer referred to him as a “novelty” and “hood ornament.” The slights were meant to send a message to Wilson and reinforce the planned path for his career. And it didn’t involve him spending three or four years as just a track star in football pads.

There were frustrating moments with Wilson admitting he felt like a decoy. Fake handoffs and fly sweeps qualified for the vast extent of his activity. But that’s all changing with his move to receiver, expertise of the playbook and 14 games of experience.

“Now that I’ve been in here for a year, I understand it a lot,” Wilson said. “We ‘re learning a lot of next level stuff. Just becoming an all-out receiver is helping me with the position change. I consider myself a slot receiver, but once I get the ball, I consider myself a running back.”

The fascination with replicating Percy Harvin’s success began the day Meyer was hired by the Buckeyes. Ohio State fans were familiar with Harvin’s exploits from the BCS National Championship Game. What they saw was a unique playmaker who could change the direction of a game in mere seconds.  

The Buckeyes didn’t possess a player with that range of skills in Meyer’s first two seasons. But after two years, the searching is nearing its end point. On an offense that lost Carlos Hyde and Philly Brown, the potential production from Wilson is a welcome development.

“I don’t use that term ‘Percy Harvin’ very loosely because there’s only probably one of him, but we like Dontre,” Meyer said. “That hybrid position is really a key guy.”

46 Comments

Comments

DeepSouthBuckeye's picture

I like this move for Dontre. We have a full stable of true, bigger RBs, and are recruiting future stars at the position as well. This gives us an elite playmaker in the middle of the field from the slot.

Also, considering I have the #2 jersey (which I bought in the Malcom Jenkins era, got lucky when T.P. got it, and loved CB / RDS wearing it recently) I am glad to see the number getting passed down to another "should be" playmaker.

Loving all things Buckeye from SEC country in Alabama.

"How firm thy friendship....O-HI-O"

+12 HS
Son of Sevenless's picture

Best #2 : Mike Doss the Champ.

+21 HS
MacG91's picture

Chris Carter was pretty good too.

Mac..yeah

+10 HS
flying-banana's picture

I know people were getting frustrated that Dontre didn't blow up last season, but I think the expectations were ridiculously high for a freshman. Living in Texas I was able to watch him when DeSoto high played Allen high in the Texas high school football semi finals (one of the best games I've ever watched, look up the game, it was amazing) and Wilson was incredible. Consider me on team Dontre, and I'm excited to see him grow.

+10 HS
buckeyeradar's picture

I was also at the game and he was great.  He was more of a one man show. Now he has more talent around him which could make him even better.  What do you think about the qb K. Murray from Allen?  

Buckeye in Texas

Jeremypreemo81's picture

Having him on the field every down will probably do wonders for our offense.  Last year it became almost predictable that when he entered the game we were going to try to get him the ball some sort of way, not always but a majority of the time.  But now with him starting at H the treat of him getting the ball will always be there and it should open lanes for our other skilled players.  I am sure he will command a lot of double teams or over the top coverage by DB's and LB's will probably be keying on him, esp if he goes in motion.  I hope we see big things from him this fall.

+2 HS
route4buckeye's picture

Kill it Dontre. We're all rooting for you.

+2 HS
Seattle Linga's picture

I'm convinced he'll have a breakout game against Navy.

BucksfanXC's picture

He is bulked up I hear. Better be ready to block to keep your playing time at WR. I'd love getting him the ball in space, doing some slot outs, but he's gotta open those down field holes for our big backs to get the 30+ yarders

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

Mortc15's picture

Any word on what his weight is up to now? Roster has him at 180 but wasn't sure if that was still accurate or last year's numbers or what.

Buck-I4Life

osubuck57's picture

Another article on here has said he's up to 190-200 lbs. range.

SCOTTC.

ibuck's picture

I think I read somewhere that he weighs 190 now, but I'd like confirmation. And what's his height? Still 5'10"?

And what's his vertical?

Our honor defend, we will fight to the end !

If you can't win your conference, just quietly accept your non-playoff bowl game.

Wesleyburgess1's picture

He said in his interview last week he is 190lbs now. He says hes stronger and faster if you can believe that

Mortc15's picture

Thanks for the updates. I like seeing 190-200 a lot more than 175, especially considering his expected increased workload. Those extra 15-20 pounds will allow him to take a few more hits throughout the season....assuming anyone is able to get solid hits on him.

Buck-I4Life

+1 HS
DC-town's picture

True sophomore...do your thing Dontre-

A true pivot role doesn't exist in many highschool offenses, so to ask a first yr player to know all the nuances, angles, blocking, routes...it's a lot to pick up.  The offseason with the wr's should help with the routes, timing and hands.  

A functional dontre in the slot that knows the offense is a pretty sick thought- nice safety valve for Braxton 

'Piss excellence' -RB

+3 HS
Barnsey69's picture

He will be very important this season as the outlet guy, even more so if the O-line does not gell quickly. Braxton taking off with the ball cannot happen as much, especially without the Kenny-G security blanket.

Go Bucks!

Thank the Maker that I was born in Ohio, cradle of coaches, US Presidents, confederate-stomping Generals, and home of The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes!

Hovenaut's picture

I think Dontre will make great strides (in more ways than one) this season.

Future recruits with a similar skill set will want to come to Columbus and play the Dontre Wilson position.

 

I am not very smart, but I recognize that I am not very smart.

+4 HS
Pa_snoborder's picture

This is good to hear. 

"No one puts baby in a corner!" - P.Swayze.

Buckeye Knight's picture

He's already bigger/stronger, is still a burner, has some meaningful game experience, and now more knowledge of the playbook.  Your future is still VERY bright young Dontre.  Big things are coming!

I'm REALLY looking forward to watching Dontre, Eze, and Curtis Samuel.

 

Larrinator's picture

Love the move, EZE at rb and Dontre at wr= Deadly! 

Also, someone should make a depth chart for this site even if it isn't 100% correct. It would be nice to have something to look at. Just a thought. 

Larson

Squirrel Master's picture

QB (quality blogger) - Jason Priestas

SS (skull session) - DJ    backup - Johnny Gitner

RF (recruiting football) - Jeremy  backup - John Brandon

RB (recruiting basketball) - Michael Citro  backup - Mike Young

C (center of it all) - Kyle Rowland

H (historian) - Ramsy Nasrallah

 

I know there are more but the "meet the staff" link is not working right now and my memory left me in the 70's man!

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

+4 HS
buckguyfan1's picture

Jordan Wagner adds depth at RF.

+1 HS
Squirrel Master's picture

I knew I forgot him. dammit!

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

Chief B1G Dump's picture

As trivial as it sounds, I know what he's talking about when getting his number back.  Once upon a time, I played high level athletics.  I was always the same number for everything.  There were spots on teams, in certain times, where I couldn't get my number.  It just never felt right...until I got my number.  It sounds lame, but I get the psychological aspect of it.  Like a kid having his go to teddy bear, it just feels like home.  We had a saying that how you look and feel is a huge part of the game.

Now that he's settling in, and has his number, I hope things slow down and feel like home again for him.  The kid gets so much hype, and he deserves to, he's just got to do everything to prepare him for his chances this season.  Sound like he is, and for the 2nd straight year, I cant wait to watch this kid live up to his hype...and hopefully SHRED this year.

+3 HS
MacG91's picture

So who is playing his position from last year? Marshall or Samuel?

Mac..yeah

Larrinator's picture

Probably Samuel, Marshall will fall behind with his knee surgery. 

Larson

Run_Fido_Run's picture

I gathered that Dontre will play Philly's position, but that they'll utilize his talents out of that package, and they won't necessarily try to put another "hybrid" on the field as often (although it would be fun to see, say, both Dontre and Jalin Marshall/Samuel on the field together).

Whereas Philly occasionally shifted into the backfield and took jet sweeps, etc., Dontre will do that more often. Dontre probably won't be as sharp as Philly was (as a junior and senior) running the intermediate routes, but he'll be more dangerous on the quick stuff.

Meanwhile, one of the outside WRs, maybe Corey Smith, will become more of a go-to receiver. So, they'll more often have 1 TE, 1 RB, 3 WR (Dontre + two "traditional" WRs).

But I could be wrong.

+1 HS
MacG91's picture

Thanks, nice GSP by the way. 

Mac..yeah

Run_Fido_Run's picture

I actually lifted that handsome boy from the internet. I did have a GSP once that was almost as pretty - they're one of the best looking breeds IMO - but these days I have an adorable mutt.

GSPs are high-strung and need constant exercise.

Our mutt is only semi-demanding and is great around our two young kids.

+2 HS
Run_Fido_Run's picture

Last year's offense was an awesome run-blocking team with two great runners in the backfield. But they didn't really have the receiver/QB dynamics that can stretch defenses and expose their horizontal and vertical weak points.

This season, the run blocking might not be as dominant, but the "field stretching" potential is exciting, and Dontre in the slot is a big part of that. They'll also have athletic height on the outside (Greene, Thomas), a potential "go to" stud in Corey Smith, great TEs, etc. If D. Smith and Braxton both improve as well, this offense will give defenses fits!

bignut2017's picture

I don't think dontre will ever be a guy that rushes for 200 yards in the B1G. I see dontre making an impact in all areas while he's in the game. I think if he averages 9-11 carries and he averages 8 yards a carry, that's about 85 yards. If he also catches about 5 balls for 50 yards that is about 130 yards a came even before he touches the ball on special teams. WOW

"Championships aren't won on Saturdays, they're won on Tuesdays in August" Kerry Coombs

WesPatterson23's picture

Very excited to see what Dontre can do with the ball this year. Also in his interview this past week he said he has been doing punt and kick returning. So, with all that, he will have plenty of chances to make some plays!

GVerrilli92's picture

I love that he is dissatisfied with his production from last year. Gotta love a freshman that not only knows he belongs on the field, but that he can change the game.

How many cheeseburgers are you gunna drive into that dirty old cheeseburger locker Brady Hoke?

+1 HS
mobboss1984's picture

Wilson, Michael Thomas & Marshall: This year's offensive standouts

Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.
Bruce Lee
 

Kyle Rowland's picture

Don't forget about Jeff Greene. His size could be a major weapon. 

Young_Turk's picture

 

Young hearts beat free tonight.

+1 HS
Squirrel Master's picture

I find it funny that he was disappointed with his production last year. That was a decent year by any standard as a freshman on a loaded team. If he would have been able to finish The Game, plus the utter lack of his use in the B1G champ/Orange bowl, I think he would have had some nice numbers. So really, he had those stats in 9 games. Not bad at all IMO

True the expectations by everyone including himself were much more than that, but if Herman didn't get so locked in on using Braxton and Hyde so much, I think Dontre would have done a lot more. Despite his drawbacks. 9 yards a touch!!! and many of those were with teams keying on him anytime he touched the ball, hence why they even used him as a decoy. I'm glad he is getting some muscle and weight on him because if he can start really breaking tackles, he will be dino-mite!

 

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

+3 HS
WhySoSerious's picture

Big things to come with this young man, in the words of lil Wayne feed me feed me. Big break out year.

Rare&Uncommon

Like the ball in the stands, we balls out

BAR43's picture

Don't quite understand all the articles down playing Wilsons play last year. He was a freaking freshman and did just fine. He had areas that needed improvement but everything come across like he is this big "bust" and to be honest our offense was perfectly equiped to work without him. Hes got a lot of potential and we have a good year this upcoming season once he becomes more complete aka blocking

+1 HS
Kyle Rowland's picture

I see where you and Squirrel Master are coming from. But Wilson's year was a disappointment in terms of the hype that accompanied him and his diminished role throughout the season. Almost 500 yards as a true freshman is nothing to scoff at. He did so in underwhelming fashion, though. Quietly. 

IGotAWoody's picture

Even without really having all the tools, a true position to call his own, and without a coaching staff that was committed to figuring out the various ways they could use him, he still had a solid freshman season. This year, I think it's safe to assume that he's going to be utilized quite a bit more, and be MUCH more productive! Only 5 more months until we're ready to kick off the 2014 season (who am I kidding, that feels like an eternity!) Go BUCKS!!

 - License to kill gophers (wolverines, badgers, etc) by the government of the United Nations

johnblairgobucks's picture

can't wait to see the full year Dontre will give the Buckeyes in 2014.  I feel that the coaching staff under-utilized him towards the end of the year.  Sure Braxton and Carlos are Big Time players, but Dontre did average 9 yards a touch.  It seemed many times we continued to pound Carlos and Braxton off tackle right at some of the Big 10's best linebackers (MSU and Wisconsin) and though they were gaining 6 to 7 yards, it would have been nice to see Dontre given more of a chance to get past the edge and run past the linebackers that for sure couldn't catch him.

I'm really looking forward to seeing Dontre against Michigan in the Horseshoe and see what he can give #34 DB Clark, #52 LB Jenkins-Stone and #86 WR Chesson in return for the jumping he got last year in Ann Arbor.

 

+1 HS
Seattle Linga's picture

Watching that highlight/lowlight still really gets me upset when they bullied him. I hope he destroys them this year.

 

chirobuck's picture

"The game" is back and we got some young guys who already get the importance of it

 
^ best post ever ^

+1 HS