Believe the Hype: Revisiting Ohio State's Offseason Hype Train and Forecasting Who Could Be Next

By Andrew Ellis on March 13, 2018 at 2:15 pm
The hype was very real for Curtis Samuel and Dontre Wilson.

All aboard.

There are a number of things you can count on during the Urban Meyer regime; one of the finest coaching staffs in college football, a tireless effort on the recruiting trail, and millions of dollars in NFL contracts just to name a few. 

Another thing we've all grown accustomed to is hearing about one or two players each offseason that just seem to be Meyer's "guys." The player or players that the coaching staff tend to rave about at every given opportunity up until the new season gets underway. The names that keep the media abuzz for months.

Whether it be a talented newcomer or more of a seasoned veteran, there's been no shortage of offseason superstars over the years. It really dates back well before the Meyer Era with players like wide receiver Taurian Washington and the annual spring game hero that was Bam Childress. Occasionally it turned out to be just that — hype.

Most of the time, however, that hype has translated over to exceptional play in the fall; especially in recent years.

Early on it was Braxton Miller that Meyer couldn't stop talking about, but that was hardly a surprise as Miller was coming off an explosive true freshman campaign and – with Meyer at the helm – was set to be unleashed in an offense more befitting to his skill set. We all know how that one played out for the Buckeyes. 

Dontre Wilson saw the field early on as a freshman.
Following his early rave reviews, Dontre Wilson saw the field as a true freshman in 2013.

Dontre Wilson's arrival in 2013 was the talk of the summer as the Texan had the look of a true do-it-all weapon on offense. Even Braxton Miller took note early on, referring to Wilson as a "lightning bolt" when speaking with the Big Ten Network in the weeks leading up to the season.

Though he didn't end up with the gaudy stats many were hoping for, Wilson did see significant playing time as a true freshman.

As the years have gone by we've seen more and more names begin to surface in the spring and summer months. Raekwon McMillan and Curtis Samuel both enrolled early in 2014, and both had exceptional careers in Columbus before being selected in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

Mike Weber's arrival in 2015 was big for a number of reasons. The Buckeyes kept the Detroit product away from Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines while the ground game needed another back to spell Ezekiel Elliott. Weber was one of the stars of the summer before being sidelined and forced to miss the season with a knee injury. He's rushed for over 1,700 yards and 19 touchdowns heading into his redshirt junior year.

Torrance Gibson wasn't exactly a newcomer in the spring of 2016, but the redshirt freshman got fans excited about his move to wideout when he promptly Mossed some folks in the spring game. Unfortunately that one just never worked out for either party and Gibson is still looking for a new home.  

A year ago at this time, it was the J.K. Dobbins show that was just getting underway. One of nine early enrollees for the Class of 2017, the La Grange, Texas product was a hot commodity throughout the spring and summer. Dobbins' career started off with a bang as he rushed for 181 yards in his debut in Bloomington, and he's showing no signs of slowing down.

With spring practices now underway, the focus is fully on the 2018 season. There are a number of crucial position battles that are already underway as the Buckeyes look to replace the likes of Jamarco Jones, Sam Hubbard, and Denzel Ward.

So who could be the latest and greatest talk of the offseason? We've got a few guesses for the coming months.

Chase Young • Sophomore • Defensive End

We are probably stating this obvious with this one, but Chase Young is going to be on the field a lot and already looks like a first rounder for the 2020 NFL Draft. Larry Johnson doesn't have as much defensive end depth to play around with this year, but there's probably not a team in the country with a duo as talented as the Buckeyes.

Baron Browning • Sophomore • Linebacker

We're expecting a battle for the two vacant linebacker spots, and Browning is a bit of a unique specimen since he likely has the size and speed to play any of the three positions. A former five-star signee, Browning recorded 14 tackles as a true freshman and should be battling it out with Keandre Jones in helping to replace Jerome Baker. 

Isaiah Pryor • Sophomore • Safety

Jeffrey Okudah is probably the logical pick in the secondary, but we're going to hear a lot about Pryor as he looks to take over the safety spot once held by Damon Webb. At 6-foot-2 and close to 200 pounds, he has the ideal size for the position and could be a nice complement to Jordan Fuller. 

Pryor recorded 11 tackles and one sack as a true freshman, and the coaches could be raving about him over the next five months. 

Nicholas Petit-Frere • True Freshman • Offensive Tackle 

Tampa's Nicholas Petit-Frere may have been Urban Meyer's biggest recruiting win since his arrival. As a true freshman, the five-star signee will be in different spot than players Raekwon McMillan and Curtis Samuel were in years past. Unlike many of the other highly touted names, Petit-Frere didn't arrive early in Columbus and won't be able to make any noise until June. 

Still, with a glaring need at the position, we're expecting to hear a lot about Petit-Frere once he makes his way to campus. He is a high academic kid and was the country's top tackle prospect. At 6-foot-6 and 272 pounds, he will need to bulk up a bit, but Nicholas Petit-Frere could be an instant-impact player in Ohio State's two-deep.

The buzz could be palpable in the coming months.

Jeremy Ruckert • True Freshman • Tight End

The Buckeyes do already have some talent at the tight end position, but they really haven't had a player like Lindenhust, New York's Jeremy Ruckert. Meyer hasn't been shy in his affinity either, calling Ruckert the best tight end prospect that he's ever seen or recruited. He had no problems going the extra mile to bring the talented pass catcher to Columbus.

Michigan fans were critical of Meyer when this news broke, and that's quite rich given their own coach's bizarre tactics. In all likelihood it was just a matter of sour grapes as the Buckeyes nabbed the Wolverines' top tight end target. 

Like Petit-Frere, Ruckert will arrive on campus this summer.

Master Teague • True Freshman • Running Back 

It's going to be a crowded backfield in Columbus with J.K. Dobbins, Mike Weber, and Antonio Williams already having some seniority over the stable of newcomers. However, early rumblings have already been strong in regards to true freshman tailback Master Teague. 

The early enrollee will probably have a tough time seeing the field in 2018, but he's a tireless worker and could be someone we hear a lot about from Urban Meyer and Tony Alford. After undergoing ankle surgery in the fall, Teague is now full go and working with the team. Though we know Dobbins and Weber will lead the charge, it will be interesting to see how the backfield unfolds; especially when Brian Snead arrives in the summer.

The Ohio State spring game kicks off April 14th. 

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