Many Top Athletes Come to Ohio State Without a Position, But Urban Meyer Finds a Way to Use Them

By Kevin Harrish on March 28, 2017 at 4:00 pm
Eric Glover-Williams will move to receiver this season after playing safety last season.

Upcoming freshman Brendan White was one of the most dominant players in the state of Ohio throughout his high school football career, possessing a rare mix of size and speed which made him one of the top athletes in the country. Naturally, Urban Meyer wanted the state's No. 2 prospect on his football team, and White wanted to be a Buckeye.

When White enrolled at Ohio State in January, though, neither he or the coaching staff knew what position he would play. He was recruited by many schools as a safety, played running back, wide receiver and quarterback in high school, but Luke Fickell liked him at linebacker.

The plan seemed to be for White to get to campus, then they would see what works best later. That whole situation might sound quite unique, but it's actually pretty standard procedure for Meyer. Since the head coach's arrival at Ohio State, the Buckeyes have regularly brought in top athletes with little-to-no idea how they would actually be used in a game.

Somewhat shockingly, that strategy has had pretty fantastic results thus far.

Darron Lee came to Ohio State as a high school quarterback with hopes of playing receiver. He left Columbus three years later as an All-American linebacker and was the No. 20 overall pick in the NFL Draft.

Then you have Sam Hubbard, who famously caught Meyer's eye while playing volleyball. Hubbard nearly went to Notre Dame to play lacrosse, but ended up at Ohio State where the coaching staff didn't know where to put him for a few months. He played safety and linebacker primarily in high school, and the Buckeye coaching staff tried him at linebacker and tight end before he found his home on the defensive line.

Curtis Samuel stood out immediately as a playmaker, but the staff wasn't sure how to get him on the field. He initially got most of his reps as a running back, but was behind Ezekiel Elliott. The staff then tried to get him on the field as an H-back, but he was behind Jalin Marshall and Braxton Miller. Most of his meaningful touches came out of a true receiver position until 2016, where he was basically the offense.

Even this season, there's a similar situation with Eric Glover-Williams. Recruited by many schools as a cornerback, Glover-Williams has played safety for the duration of his career at Ohio State, until this season, as he will instead play wide receiver.

These are just a few examples, but it seems to happen nearly every season with more than one player. Malik Hooker, Chris Worley, Jerome Baker, Dontre Wilson and Marshall all fit the mold of guys who really didn't have a position on the team initially.

The fact that Meyer has had such success with the development of these players is a great sign for the Buckeyes, because in the future, you will see more hybrid players coming out of high school, not fewer.

Like basketball, football is becoming increasingly positionless, especially at the high school level. In high school, many of the nation's top athletes play all over the field, helping their team however they can. As a result, they don't develop one single skill set and come into college as versatile athletes without a position.

Meyer and the rest of the coaching staff have done a fantastic job finding the place where each of these players can best succeed and developing them. That means success on the field, as the staff gets the absolute best out of each player, but also success on the recruiting trail, as players see the program's track record and trust they'll be in good hands.

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