Recapping the Class of 2017's First Season at Ohio State

By Andrew Lind on January 18, 2018 at 10:10 am
J.K. Dobbins

J.K. Dobbins

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Fourteen true freshman saw playing time for Ohio State during the 2017 season, which ended with the Buckeyes knocking off USC in the Cotton Bowl last month.

That tied the record for the most newcomers to play during head coach Urban Meyer's six seasons in Columbus.

FRESHMAN TRACKER
2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012
14 6 4 10 10 14

Some — like running back J.K. Dobbins — made a huge impact for the Buckeyes this season, while others gradually played their way into bigger roles as the year progressed. Some are still waiting for their time to shine.

With all that said, we take a look back at how each member of Ohio State's Select '17 recruiting class performed during their respective true freshman seasons.

CHASE YOUNG

★★★★★
DEFENSIVE END 
HYATTASVILLE (MD) DEMATHA CATHOLIC

Despite a load of talent ahead of him at the defensive end position, Young found his way onto the field in 12 games this fall as part of the Rushmen package. He finished the season with 19 tackles, six tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks.

JEFFREY OKUDAH*

★★★★★
CORNERBACK
SOUTH GRAND PRAIRIE (TX)

Okudah was a key contributor in kickoff and punt coverage this season, but also saw occasional playing time at cornerback. Denzel Ward's decision to sit out of the Cotton Bowl opened the door for his most substantial playing time of the year, and he finished the season with 17 tackles, one pass break up and one fumble recovery.

BARON BROWNING*

★★★★★
LINEBACKER
KENNEDALE (TX)

Browning suffered a shoulder injury in the spring that required surgery, but returned to full strength by fall camp and became a regular contributor on special teams. He played in parts of 12 games — some at middle linebacker — and finished the season with 14 tackles and 1.5 tackles for a loss. 

SHAUN WADE*

★★★★★
CORNERBACK
JACKSONVILLE (FL) TRINITY CHRISTIAN

Wade suffered an abdominal injury in spring practices, but he attempted to play through the pain this fall. It was revealed in November he had a small tear in his abdomen and he had season-ending surgery that resulted in a redshirt year.

WYATT DAVIS

★★★★★
OFFENSIVE GUARD
BELLFLOWER (CA) ST. JOHN BOSCO

Davis did not arrive on campus until the summer and — by that time — was buried on the depth chart behind guards Branden Bowen, Michael Jordan, Demetrius Knox and Matthew Burrell once fall camp opened. He was redshirted.

TREVON GRIMES

★★★★
WIDE RECEIVER
FORT LAUDERDALE (FL) ST. THOMAS AQUINAS

Grimes appeared in two games for Ohio State, catching three passes for 20 yards, before taking a personal leave of absence from the team due to a health issue in his family. He transferred to Florida in December to be closer to home.

J.K. DOBBINS*

★★★★
RUNNING BACK
LA GRANGE (TX)

Dobbins split time this season with veteran running back Mike Weber, but rushed for a team-high 1,403 yards and seven touchdowns in spite of that. He was named the Most Valuable Player of the Big Ten Championship Game after he rushed for 174 yards in Ohio State's 27-21 win over Wisconsin.

JOSH MYERS*

★★★★
OFFENSIVE GUARD
MIAMISBURG (OH)

Myers enrolled in the spring determined to push for the offensive guard spot left vacant by Billy Price's move to center, but was beat out in fall camp by the more-experienced Bowen. He suffered an undisclosed shoulder injury during the season and was redshirted.

TATE MARTELL*

★★★★
QUARTERBACK
LAS VEGAS (NV) BISHOP GORMAN

Stuck behind fifth-year senior J.T. Barrett and backups Dwayne Haskins and Joe Burrow on the depth chart, a redshirt season was always in the cards for Martell. The Buckeyes did, however, consider burning his redshirt when Barrett went down with a knee injury at Michigan, but called on Haskins to take his place instead.

ISAIAH PRYOR*

★★★★
SAFETY
BRADENTON (FL) IMG ACADEMY

Though he saw limited action in the secondary with Damon Webb and Jordan Fuller firmly entrenched at the safety positions, Pryor finished the season with 13 tackles, two pass break ups, one tackle for a loss and a sack in mop-up duty and special teams.

HASKELL GARRETT

★★★★
DEFENSIVE TACKLE
LAS VEGAS (NV) BISHOP GORMAN

Though he was looking up on the depth chart at Tracy Sprinkle, Dre'Mont Jones, Robert Landers and Jashon Cornell, Garrett played in eight games and finished the season with three tackles.

BRENDON WHITE*

★★★★
ATHLETE
POWELL (OH) OLENTANGY LIBERTY

White was the program's earliest enrollee, as he participated in bowl practices ahead of last year's College Football Playoff game against Clemson. He's switched between linebacker, safety and wide receiver since, but played in five games and finished the season with one tackle.

JAYLEN HARRIS

★★★★
WIDE RECEIVER
CLEVELAND HEIGHTS (OH)

Ohio State listed a nation-high six starting receivers this fall, which means Harris — much like Grimes — only saw the field in blowout situations. He played in three games and caught two passes for 27 yards.

MARCUS WILLIAMSON*

★★★★
CORNERBACK
BRADENTON (FL) IMG ACADEMY

Since Ward, Damon Arnette and Kendall Sheffield locked down the primary cornerback positions, Williamson made a name for himself on special teams instead. He played in 10 games and recorded six tackles.

AMIR RIEP

★★★★
CORNERBACK
CINCINNATI (OH) COLERAIN

Much like Okudah and Williamson before him, Riep played in all 14 games on special teams. He also saw some playing time at cornerback against lesser opponents and finished the season with 10 tackles, one interception and one pass break up.

JERRON CAGE

★★★★
DEFENSIVE TACKLE
CINCINNATI (OH) WINTON WOODS

Cage, like Garrett above, wasn't given the chance to contribute thanks to a loaded depth chart and redshirted. He did travel with the team to select road games, however.

PETE WERNER

★★★★
LINEBACKER
INDIANAPOLIS (IN) CATHEDRAL

Werner emerged as one of Ohio State's best special teams players this season and saw the field at linebacker in some late-game situations. He played in 11 games and totaled nine tackles, most of which ended with the ballcarrier gasping for air.

THAYER MUNFORD

★★★★
OFFENSIVE TACKLE
MASSILLON (OH) WASHINGTON

Munford — who was the final piece of the Buckeyes' 2017 recruiting class — played in 12 games on special teams, but saw meaningful time in Ohio State's 31-20 win over Michigan when starting right tackle Isaiah Prince went down for a series. 

ELLIJAH GARDINER

★★★
WIDE RECEIVER
KEMP (TX)

Gardiner's size and speed played a significant role in the Buckeyes' pursuit of his services, but a redshirt season was always in the cards as he looked to develop physically. 

BLAKE HAUBEIL

★★★
KICKER
BUFFALO (NY) CANISIUS

Though he and junior Sean Nuernberger were shaky on kickoff duties to begin the year — booting seven kickoffs out of bounds — Haubeil found his consistency toward the end of the year and locked down the spot moving forward. He played in 13 games this fall.

*Early enrollee

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