Members of Ohio State's 2016 Recruiting Class That Have Best Chance To Play As True Freshmen

By Eric Seger on February 9, 2016 at 1:15 pm
Who are five members of Ohio State's 2016 class that could see significant time this fall?

Urban Meyer always says it, but promises he really is serious this time: True freshmen are going to play a great deal this fall at Ohio State in order to avoid redshirts.

"I say this every year. I don't want to redshirt. It's not our plan," Meyer said Wednesday. "We don't recruit you and say let's sit them down for a while. We want to play them immediately."

Meyer defiantly states it is not in Ohio State's best interest to redshirt players, because a program with such success and pro development doesn't expect the talent it brings in year in and year out to stay more than three years.

Ohio State saw six players leave following their third year in the program after the 2015 season for the NFL — Ezekiel Elliott, Eli Apple, Jalin Marshall, Vonn Bell, Joey Bosa and Darron Lee. Only two of those players didn't redshirt (Bell and Bosa), but while the other three had with injuries or bloomed late to force a year on the sideline Meyer doesn't want to hold his 2016 class back.

"I hope 18 of them play," Meyer said. "I kind of went through that, special teams and I'm going to force to that issue with our position coaches."

Meyer talked about his latest top-5 haul, and said the pressure is on his staff to get the 24 players (punter Drue Chrisman will grayshirt) in the class college-ready.

"Sometimes position coaches, they protect themselves by saying the kid doesn't know what he's doing so I'm not going to give him those reps, so I'm not going to allow that this year," Meyer said.

So which of the young blood has the best chance to show up on the depth chart? Here are five members of the 2016 class that could see time right way, based off positions of need and what the head coach said about them.

Jordan Fuller – Cornerback

Meyer spoke glowingly about Fuller's commitment to Ohio State, calling him "an impact recruit" along with Nick Bosa and Dwayne Haskins Jr.

Fuller signed as an athlete from New Jersey, but is expected to compete at cornerback once he arrives to campus this summer. Cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs and the rest of the staff liken him to Eli Apple because of his size, skill set and home state. Meyer called Fuller "a key get in the 11th hour" last week, which makes sense because three of four starters in the defensive backfield from last year are readying for the NFL Draft.

"No doubt he's playing as a true freshman," Meyer told Bruce Feldman and Stewart Mandel of after signing day.


A four-star recruit out of Old Tappan High School in Westwood, New Jersey, Fuller won Gatorade Player of the Year honors in his home state his senior season. Expect him to figure largely into Ohio State's plans in 2016.

Nick Bosa — Defensive Lineman

Being a Bosa carries with it gaudy expectations, but that's what happens when your family's gene pool is so deeply rooted in football. Nick's big brother Joey just left Ohio State and could be the top pick in April's NFL Draft. Smaller Bear is supposedly better than Joey was at this point in their respective careers, and could play on the interior defensive line. He did that some in high school.

Bosa hails from high school power St. Thomas Aquinas, but missed the final bit of his senior season with an ACL tear. However, Meyer seemed positive about the state of his rehab.

"He's playing. He had the knee injury but he's well ahead of schedule. Looks fantastic," Meyer said.

Bosa is the highest rated member of Ohio State's 2016 class, a consensus five-star prospect. If his knee is as solid as Meyer says it is, it makes sense he will make a dent on Ohio State's defensive line in 2016. Just like his brother did his first year on campus.

Malcolm Pridgeon – Offensive Line

Pridgeon isn't 18 or 19 years old like the other members of Ohio State's recruiting class, but he's still a very large part of it as a junior college transfer from Nassau Community College in Garden City, New York. Meyer was pretty adamant on signing day about him seeing the field this fall.


"We don't recruit a junior college guy to sit," Meyer said. "He's a three for two, but we hope to get him here in June and compete for a starting spot."

Ohio State has three vacant spots on its offensive line, after Taylor Decker, Jacoby Boren and Chase Farris all graduated. Pat Elflein is taking over for Boren at center and Billy Price is back at left guard, but because of Pridgeon's size (6-foot-8, 303 pounds) and experience it makes sense we'll see him on the field.

Who knows, if he earns a starting job and develops into the player Meyer, Ed Warinner and Greg Studrawa believe he can be, his draft stock for 2017 could only keep him at Ohio State for one season.

Austin Mack – Wide Receiver

The man with the most receiving yards returning to Ohio State in 2016 might not even play the position this year — Curtis Samuel.

Braxton Miller, Michael Thomas and Jalin Marshall are all onto the NFL, and while the Buckeyes welcome back Corey Smith from a medical redshirt, the position needs some fresh faces to pick up the slack. The passing game was nothing special in 2015, largely due to the yo-yoing at quarterback and presence of Ezekiel Elliott. J.T. Barrett returns as the unquestioned signal caller, but he needs the young talent on the outside to show up.

Enter Austin Mack. One of two wide receivers in the class, Mack is a top-50 talent and already enrolled in Columbus. He will put pressure on incumbents like Johnnie Dixon, James Clark, Terry McLaurin, Torrance Gibson, Parris Campbell, K.J. Hill and Noah Brown from the start.

Zach Smith's position room needs to take a major step forward in 2016. Look for Mack to be an integral part of that.

Demario McCall – H-Back

Dovetailing off the wide receiver transition written about above, H-back also has some shoes to fill. Miller and Marshall took the lion's share of those reps one year ago, along with Samuel. The jury is still out on where the latter will play this fall, but Meyer likes to have more than just one capable body to fill the H-back spot his offense demands.

Dontre Wilson should at long last be healthy enough to head full-go into his senior season, but his injury history is against him. With that said, McCall's speed and shiftiness will come of use early in his career just like Wilson's did in 2013.

McCall could cut his teeth on special teams and return kicks, but if he can add weight and show his use as a blocker Meyer could try to get him in space within the offense as well.

  • Dwayne Haskins Jr. – Quarterback: Meyer told Mandel and Feldman that Haskins' tape is "the best that I've seen at his age since I've been coaching." That's pretty high praise, but it might be tough for him to crack the lineup with Barrett, Joe Burrow and Stephen Collier in the quarterback room.
  • Keandre Jones – Linebacker: Jones was also someone Meyer singled out in his signing day press conference, saying he made his staff watch the linebacker's tape as they ate dinner "just to make it taste better." Raekwon McMillan is the lone returner at the position. Expect Jones to at least play on special teams.
  • Jake Hausmann/Luke Farrell – Tight End: The fact Meyer signed three tight ends in this recruiting cycle shows his concern for the position moving forward. Hausmann and Farrell are likely ahead of Kierre Hawkins at the position, because they played it more exclusively in high school. Hawkins did everything for Maple Heights. We will see if A.J. Alexander and Rashod Berry can hold off Hausmann and Farrell for playing time behind Marcus Baugh.
  • Binjimen Victor – Wide Receiver: Victor was another vital commitment for Ohio State in 2016, coming on 12-star Monday along with Haskins and Jones. He adds another capable body in the wide receivers room.
  • Jonathon Cooper – Defensive End: Cooper is already on campus, a local kid from Gahanna with a constant motor. Sam Hubbard and Tyquan Lewis are pretty much set in stone to start at defensive end for Ohio State, but Cooper's quick twitch ability and junkyard dog mentality likely put him in the rotation up front by season's end.
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