Ezekiel Elliot, Darron Lee Tabbed as Breakout Players by BTN

By DJ Byrnes on May 31, 2014 at 10:53a

Gone is the gaudy production of Carlos Hyde and Ryan Shazier. Hyde is off to San Francisco to bust heads under the employ of fellow Big Tenner Jim Harbaugh; Shazier is in the Steel City now and will likely break Johnny Football in half this fall.

So where does that leave Ohio State? After all, production like those two produced doesn't exactly grow on trees; however, Ohio State could be in better shape than one might think.

BTN released a list of three breakout players to watch in the 2014 season, and two Buckeyes made the list. 

The first isn't much of a surprise: running back Ezekiel Elliot. Here's what Sean Merriman had to say:

 I almost chose this guy as my most underrated player in yesterday’s post, but then I realized, it’s tough to refer to a running back as being “underrated” when he’s only carried the ball 30 times. However, Elliott is a perfect fit in this category, especially after the loss of starting tailback Carlos Hyde to the NFL. With Hyde carrying the rushing load last season, the Buckeyes offense led the nation with 6.8 yards per carry. Now, Elliott will be looked at to take over the role as Ohio State’s go-to tailback, and he should be an absolute force in that backfield. Despite playing in a backup role during his freshman year, Elliott still managed to gain 262 yards on the ground, an average of 8.7 yards per carry, which was tops among all Buckeye players who had at least 30 rushing attempts. This is an Ohio State team that loves to run the football, and Elliott has the size and skill to be the next great Buckeye running back.

Now, I doubt Elliot will be able to match the 8.7 yards per carry mark because he'll be a featured back not playing in mop-up duty. Still, the young man is electric, and like his predecessor, he is no stranger to doling out punishment either. 

Elliot will never be confused for Carlos Hyde, but he'll bring plenty of (different-flavored) dishes to the table.

Tom Dienhart's pick might surprise the casual fan, but won't shock anyone who paid attention to spring camp: linebacker Darron Lee:

Ohio State needs help at linebacker with Ryan Shazier off early to the NFL. Truth be told, even with Shazier, the Buckeye linebacker play wasn’t up to par in 2013. But that soon could be changing as plenty of talented players develop. A guy I’m watching is redshirt freshman Darron Lee, who looks ready to take over at strongside linebacker after Joshua Perry was moved to Shazier’s weakside spot. Lee emerged in the spring, showing skills and instincts that could make him a difference maker. But he’s being pushed by fellow redshirt freshman Chris Worley, giving the Buckeyes some nice options as breakout players at the strongside linebacking slot. Also, keep an eye on true freshman Raekwon McMillan, who is pushing Curtis Grant at middle linebacker after enrolling early.  So, take your pick from Lee, Worley and McMillan as breakout Ohio State linebackers. But when it’s all said and done, I think Lee will emerge the most this fall.

Reading that paragraph, it's almost as if....as if...  *single tear drops down my cheek*... there will be some linebacker depth this fall.

Darron Lee is a former three-star recruit from New Albany, but if his spring is any indication, he'll outshoot his recruiting ranking in no time.

While he's not replacing Shazier directly (Hello, Mr. Perry), Lee would bring solidarity to a linebackers corps that has been in disarray (outside of Shazier) for the last couple years. In turn, that would be a massive help in solidifying some of the defensive woes that have plagued Ohio State.

If Elliot and Lee can fulfill their obvious potential, it would go a long way in again proving Ohio State doesn't rebuilt, it merely reloads.

There are only 91 days until Ohio State kicks off in Baltimore against the U.S. Naval Academy.


Comments Show All Comments

BroJim's picture

I would have picked Jalin Marshall, that kid is a monster. I hope he is healing well.

I season my simple food with hunger

+3 HS
bedheadjc's picture

Lee would bring solidarity to a linebackers corps

Do you mean solidity? Solidarity works also but would be more applicable if Lee was canvasing the other LBs,trying to get them to agree on something...or are you a friend of Lech Walesa?

+2 HS
DJ Byrnes's picture

No, I meant solidarity.


unity or agreement of feeling or action, especially among individuals with a common interest; mutual support within a group.


Please raise your hand if you thought last year's LBs played with solidarity.

Californian by birth, Marionaire by the Grace of President Warren G. Harding.

bedheadjc's picture

Did not raise hand.

+2 HS
MotownBuck's picture

Puts both hands in pockets 

Trotwood-Madison. Once a Ram, Always a Ram.

+2 HS
Hovenaut's picture

Places hand in backpack, presents note from doctor excusing self from having to participate.

+1 HS
buckeyedude's picture

<-----plays pocket pool.



Crimson's picture

/emote has hands chopped off to avoid the embarrassment.

BuckeyeNationforLife's picture

Crazy that out of all the talented recruits we've had come in, a 3-star dual threat QB/safety steps up to be the one everybody is talking about at linebacker. Shows just how much stars mean once you get to college.

Paralyze resistance with persistence. - Woody Hayes

+10 HS
ITWASME's picture

It was also crazy a couple of years ago when a fullback had to play linebacker but we all know how that turned out

+2 HS
Shangheyed's picture

It is a relief to see so many high on the LB position, that's a blessing... hope it stays this way.

Some pieces as have yet to make it to practice... at least one of the incoming Frosh should make an impact as well.

joel121270's picture

If they can address tackling I think the D will be fine. IMHO it just seemed they were interested in delivering the big blow or even worse a lot of arm tackling attempt. I am no expert but watched enough football to know. I really feel better about the new D and after some potential growing pains early on I think the d will be back.

+1 HS
Burnsy's picture

Anybody hear any progress on Trey Johnson? I thought he was going to be a stud, but haven't heard his name much at all. 

+1 HS
Crimson's picture

Comments on lack of effort in the offseason

Burnsy's picture

That's disappointing, especially when he has playing time on the line. Thanks for the update. 

TraSmith4's picture

It's seems since recruiting services began rating kids that we have had more 2 & 3 star linebackers become absolute studs and 4 & 5 star linebackers become duds.... could be wrong but it seems that way! Think Kwon is going to dominate though!

+1 HS
Buckeyevstheworld's picture

and will likely break Johnny Football in half this fall.

Then ESPiN will write an article about how he's another Urban Meyer player that's out of control..lol

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

+1 HS
jBarnes's picture

redshirt freshman Darron Lee, who looks ready to take over

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”  ― Douglas Adams  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

+2 HS
bucks_symphony's picture

Darron Lee reminds me a lot of Russell Wilson. He is well spoken, intelligent, comes from a very good hard working family, and was very much under the radar recruit. If memory serves me well, I think Wilson was a 3 star recruit as well. I think Lee will prove to be very successful like Wilson at his respected position and make Buckeye Nation very proud. 

+1 HS
jBarnes's picture

Now, Elliott will be looked at to take over the role as Ohio State’s go-to tailback

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”  ― Douglas Adams  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Crumb's picture

Shazier is in the Steel City now and will likely break Johnny Football in half this fall.

I said so on draft day and hope I get to see it this fall. And for the record I like the Browns a lot better than the Steelers.

"The only good thing about it is winning the d*** thing" - Urban Meyer on The Game The War

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

There are a few guys that I think will have a great year!  EZE and Lee are two.  I'd put Marshall and Kwon up there as well. 

Can't wait for football season!!

Go Bucks!!

seafus26's picture

I look for Curtis Samual to launch onto the scene. 

Go Bucks and michigan STILL SUCKS!

+2 HS
buckeyedude's picture

I agree. Curtis is getting a lot of hype, and I hope him and EzE get a lot of touches. If Curtis does well, Dontre Wilson better step up his game.



seafus26's picture

Can we have too many weapons? Nah, it's like that song says, "it's like girl too pretty or car too fast... or too much fun. There's no such thing."

Go Bucks and michigan STILL SUCKS!

The Clean North's picture

I love EZE and he is going to be a legend here when it's all said and done but the fact of the matter is that almost all of his yards last year came from 2 of the worst teams in America. Florida A&M and Purdue. I think he may underwhelm at first until he gets settled in. Too much hype will bury a player I think. 

+1 HS
chirobuck's picture

Exactly what I was thinking, Elliott will be good in time but actually would like to see Dunn emerge as the go to guy....hes been around long enough that I dont think you get some of the growing pains that you might with zeke


^ best post ever ^

jpbuckeye's picture

Would love to see Curtis Grant have a breakout year; especially with it being his last. I feel bad for the kid. Expectations out of HS were great but for whatever reason it has yet to happen for him. I have read that defensive changes (scheme) have allowed him to get out of his head and play instinctively.


It is great to have options that we have though; just in case.