Ranking Ohio State's Top-5 Most Explosive Players in 2017

By Kevin Harrish on July 16, 2017 at 7:15 am
Parris Campbell will look to fill Curtis Samuel's shoes in 2017.

Since Urban Meyer's arrival at Ohio State, the Buckeyes have been blessed with a number of players who could change a game seemingly at any moment. Ohio State fans have witnessed amazing things from the electrifying Braxton Miller, the ball-hawking Malik Hooker, the manimal Darron Lee and the deep-threat Devin Smith.

Game breakers have become commonplace at Ohio State, but after the departure of one of the most electric players in the country, the Buckeyes will need some new ones to arise in 2017. Thankfully, Ohio State's roster is teeming with talent itching to prove itself.

Here are my picks for the top-five most electric players on Ohio State's 2017 roster.

5. Mike Weber

In 2016, Mike Weber was not really a home run hitter at tailback. He was the thunder to Curtis Samuel's lightning, the body shot to Samuel's knock-out punch. He was a bruiser who got chunks of yardage every play, but never really busted big, game-breaking touchdown runs.

That's what Buckeye fans are understandably expecting of the ball-carrier, fittingly nicknamed Baby 'Los after former Buckeye back Carlos Hyde, in his redshirt sophomore season. That makes his inclusion on this list quite a bit odd.

Well, here's the thing: it's possible Weber somehow got a hell of a lot faster this offseason.

A few weeks ago, we published a look at the team's top 40-yard dash times, as displayed on the walls of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, and Weber's eyes were eye-popping to say the least. According to the chart, Weber ran a 4.39 second 40-yard dash and a 1.83 20-yard sprint – good for fifth and third on the team, respectively.

Obviously, there's a good chance these numbers are inflated. Though even if they are, all the numbers on that list are likely equally inflated, meaning that even if Weber doesn't run a 4.39 second 40-yard dash, he's still one of the of the fastest players on a team full of speedsters.

If he really does possess that speed along with the power he's already shown, he could be in for a breakout season in 2017 complete with a few home runs.

4. Kendall Sheffield

This is probably the boldest pick on this list – a defensive player that hasn't even been on the roster for five months yet and doesn't even have a starting spot locked up yet, but let me make my case.

First off, Kendall Sheffield is going to play – I promise you that. After spending a redshirt season at Alabama, the former five-star cornerback transferred out of the program in search of more playing time and spent last the 2016 playing at the junior college level, where he established himself as the nation's top junior college cornerback. He's coming to Columbus to play, and he's going to.

Come August, you will likely see Sheffield and Damon Arnette battling for the No. 2 cornerback spot opposite of veteran Denzel Ward, but even if Sheffield loses that battle he will still see plenty of action, especially if last season is any indication. In 2016, Ward played just as many snaps as eventual first-round picks Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley despite technically losing the battle for the starting role to Lattimore. You can expect a similar rotation in 2017.

One reason why I have him on this list is that since Ward is the veteran and the No. 1 corner, opposing quarterbacks will likely target Sheffield's side of the field, giving him opportunities to make plays, giving him the opportunity to make plays. With his speed (which is probably second on the team, behind only Ward), quickness and ability to find the end zone, I predict Sheffield will have at least one defensive score next season.

In addition, the Buckeyes need a new punt returner this season and with his track-star speed and experience fielding and returning punts, Sheffield is a top candidate to earn that role. If he is indeed the one fielding punts, he could create lightning once or twice.

3. Demario McCall

Though he was buried on the depth chart during the 2016 season, Demario McCall flashed his playmaking ability a number of times throughout his freshman campaign.

The speedster finished the 2016 season with the team's seventh-most all-purpose yards and sixth-most touchdowns despite only appearing in six games. When he got a chance, garbage time or not, he made opposing defenses look silly.

McCall is arguably the most elusive player on the roster, possessing an impressive arsenal of shifty moves including what might be the best spin move since Braxton Miller wore a Buckeye uniform. McCall combines that elusiveness with good hands, impressive vision to find a hole in the defense and breakaway speed to finish the job.

Last season, he played almost exclusively at tailback, but with his skill set it's possible we'll see him at the h-back position and back deep returning punts.

The biggest knocks against McCall last season were his size and his problems with ball security. If both of those were addressed over the offseason, he could be quite a weapon for the Buckeyes in 2017.

2. Jerome Baker

Yes, we have another defensive player on this list, and yes I'm putting him at No. 2.

Sure, he's not the same type of "electric" as guys like Braxton Miller or Curtis Samuel, but if we're talking about players who can change a game on any given play, Jerome Baker absolutely belongs on this list.

On a team full of freak athletes, Baker might top the list. Standing at 6-foot-1 and weighing in at 225 lbs., the linebacker allegedly posted one of the team's 10 best 40-yard dash times and 20-yard sprint times, showing off an uncanny combination of size and speed.

With that athleticism, Baker puts on a show on the field. He introduced himself to Buckeye fans in the 2016 spring game with a freakish one-handed interception, and then to the college football world a few months later with a 68-yard pick-six against Oklahoma.

Baker finished the 2016 season with 83 total tackles and 9.5 tackles for a loss – both good for No. 2 on the team – and two interceptions.

Had he been eligible, he almost certainly would have found an NFL home this season, but thankfully for the Buckeyes Baker will be back in 2017 to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks, running backs, offensive linemen and anyone else he lines up against.

1. Parris Campbell

When you think of a game breaker in college football, your mind usually goes to guys like Ted Ginn Jr., Reggie Bush, Percy Harvin or Curtis Samuel – quick, speedy, versatile players that are a threat to find the end zone whenever they touch the ball, be it a rush, pass or kick return.

In 2017, Parris Campbell will be Ohio State's closest thing to that sort of player. Campbell will be the Buckeyes' starting h-back this season, following in the footsteps of Samuel, Braxton Miller, Jalin Marshall, Dontre Wilson and Philly Brown before him.

Campbell is the fastest player on the offensive side of the ball, and is also one of the most versatile. He possesses the skill set of a speed running back as well as a wide receiver, making him the ideal candidate for the h-back position.

Admittedly, Campbell's 2016 numbers weren't all that eye-popping. He finished the season with just 13 catches for 121 yards and four rushes for 54 yards. But with an expanded role in the offense this coming season, Campbell will have a chance to show off the skills and athleticism we already know he possesses. Expect 2016 to be his breakout season.

In addition to h-back duties, it's likely Campbell will be the team's kickoff return specialist once again. He averaged 27.8 yards per return last season and came just a few yards short of taking one to the house against Indiana.

He may not be Curtis Samuel, but Campbell is going to make some huge plays for the Buckeyes in 2017. 

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