2016 Season Preview: Freshman Who Will Contribute and Those Likely Headed For Redshirts

By Kevin Harrish on August 23, 2016 at 10:10 am
Michael Jordan, Antonio Williams and Tuf Borland will look to make an impact as true freshmen.
Eleven Warriors' Ohio State Football 2016 Season Preview

It seems like every year Urban Meyer says he does not redshirt players. In previous years, this has obviously proven to be untrue as most freshman do, in fact redshirt and there have been a number players who Meyer admits were ready to contribute yet were sidelined for the season – Sam Hubbard, K.J. Hill and Mike Weber are some current examples.

In reality, very few players actually see the field as true freshmen at Ohio State. The 2016 season could be a different story, however. With an exodus of talent from the 2015 squad, the Buckeyes will need to fill many holes and they'll look to the youth to fill them. Sure, the majority of the class will still likely redshirt, but there will be more young contributors than usual.

Major Contributors

  • Michael Jordan – OG – Michael Jordan will likely be Ohio State's only true freshman starter as it looks like he will get the nod at left guard over Demetrius Knox and Matthew Burrell. Jordan turned heads early and has been taking snaps with the ones in practice since spring. Many expected Knox and Burrell to eventually overtake him, but he appears to have fended them off and is expected to line up between Jamarco Jones and Pat Elflein.
  • Austin Mack – WR – The wide receiver room is crowded with talented players trying to separate themselves from the pack. Still, true freshman Austin Mack has emerged as one of the team's top options. Wide receivers coach Zach Smith said earlier this week he likes to play a rotation of six receivers, and Mack seems to be among the team's top six receivers heading into opening day. He is also the earliest frehsman ever to lose his black stripe, as it was taken off during spring practices, when most members of the 2016 class were still in high school.
  • Antonio Williams – RB – With the transfer of Warren Ball and the dismissal of Bri'onte Dunn, Ohio State's top two running backs heading into opening week will be the starter Mike Weber followed by Antonio Williams. It seems unimaginable that Williams will not receive meaningful snaps with the sudden lack of depth in a buckeye backfield that's been relied upon heavily since Meyer's arrival.
  • Nick Bosa – DL – Following in his brothers footsteps, Nick Bosa will likely see many meaningful snaps as a true freshman. Though he has not yet lost his black stripe, Bosa will provide depth to the defensive end position behind Sam Hubbard, Tyquan Lewis and Jalyn Holmes. However, his first opportunity to see the field may be at the defensive tackle position, where inexperience is rampant – there is just one career start among the entire group.

Possible Contributors

  • Demario McCall – RB – For the same reasons as Williams – a sudden lack of depth at the running back position – Demario McCall may see some carries out of the backfield this season. Most likely, however, his impact will be on special teams. McCall has been working on fielding punts in practice and looks to be one of the team's top return men this season. It's worth noting nobody on the roster has fielded a punt during a game, so McCall is not exactly battling seasoned veterans for a spot.
  • Jonathon Cooper – DL – During his recruitment, Jonathon Cooper turned heads for being nearly impossible to block during one-on-one drills at various camps. Unfortunately for the talented pass-rusher, there is some serious talent ahead of him at defensive end making meaningful snaps difficult to come by. Still, fans should expect to see Cooper on the field as defensive line coach Larry Johnson loves to rotate guys in, playing as many as 10 different players throughout the course of a game.
  • Binjimen Victor – WR – Binjimen Victor has seen his black stripe removed and has earned praise for his performance during summer practices, but not quite to the level of fellow true-freshman Mack. Victor could see playing time and seems to be ready to make an impact, but it's almost just as likely that he will redshirt with the logjam of unproven talent in the wide receivers room. Time will tell.
  • Jordan Fuller – DB – The secondary is another position group overflowing with unproven talent, and that may hinder Jordan Fuller from seeing meaningful snaps. Gareon Conley, Marshon Lattimore, Denzel Ward and Damon Arnette are all ahead of him at the cornerback position while Malik Hooker, Damon Webb, Erick Smith and Cam Burrows top him at safety. However, cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs has said he will see the field in some capacity this season, how often and where remains to be seen. At the very least, he will play on special teams.

It's impossible to say definitively that these are the only members of the 2016 class that will contribute this upcoming season – in fact at least one freshman tight end will likely see the field, be it Jake Hausmann or Luke Farrell, but Meyer has said "the young freshmen still have a ways to go. But Jake Hausmann is ahead of Luke (Farrell)." It's also likely a few players not listed will make an impact on special teams – guys like Tuf Borland come to mind.

It's equally impossible to say these players will definitely contribute and will not redshirt, as there seems to be at least one perplexing redshirt every season. As it stands, expect most of the class to redshirt. With a surplus of talent at many positions, it's possible players who are completely ready to see the field this season will just have to wait their turn – it's a typical problem at Ohio State and is really a good one to have.

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