Master Teague's Early Arrival and Solid Spring Could Have the Freshman in Line to Help Spell J.K. Dobbins, Mike Weber

By Andrew Ellis on April 17, 2018 at 2:15 pm
True freshman tailback Master Teague certainly looked the part during Saturday's spring game.

There's no shortage of talent in the Buckeye backfield.

It's that time of year again. Spring football and the annual scrimmage are behind us, and the masses won't have another opportunity to watch the Ohio State football team until Oregon State heads to town for the season opener.

The Buckeye faithful just got a taste of football – in the Shoe – so it's understandable that there's a sense of excitement permeating throughout the state and among the fanbase.

I've always been one to issue caution on the snap judgments from the Ohio State spring game. After all, 2016 April sensation Torrance Gibson is currently catching passes from Mike Reilly and the Edmonton Eskimos; not Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

Still, there are always a few guys who catch our eyes, and I specifically tend to focus on the early enrollees. It's fun to get a feel for how they've progressed and developed in just three short months on campus. Sometimes you can even start to get an idea as to how they may fit into an always talent-laden depth chart.

Saturday we saw a scrimmage that featured a makeshift offensive line, limited use of the top tailbacks, vanilla play-calling, and it was virtually a game of two-hand tap for four quarters. Needless to say, the Ohio State staff learns more in one "normal" practice than they do from any sort of event that's open to the public eye.

All of that being said, true freshman tailback Master Teague was one of the guys who showed up, and he absolutely looked like someone who belongs at Ohio State.

It's tough to imagine any of the newcomers stealing too many carries with J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber leading the charge and Antonio Williams also in the mix. But getting on campus early and working with Mickey Marotti is a pretty big deal, and if Teague truly is only 215 pounds – his listed weight on the Ohio State roster – then it's a rock-solid 215.

The Murfreesboro, Tennessee product wasn't quite as highly touted as Brian Snead or Jaelen Gill – who will both arrive in June – but Teague became a household name when his recruitment exploded last summer and nearly every program in America came calling.

His senior season was cut short thanks to an ankle injury, but he showed no ill effects on Saturday when serving as the bell cow at running back.

There's a plethora of talent in the Ohio State backfield with even more set to arrive this summer. We already know what Dobbins and Weber are capable of, and Antonio Williams has rushed for over 300 yards and three scores in a backup role. 

Teague is likely the No. 4 back in the rotation right now, so there's no guarantee for playing time in 2018. He'll also have to fight off the aforementioned Brian Snead this summer, but Urban Meyer has made it abundantly clear that he doesn't like to redshirt his talented newcomers. 

So, could Master Teague have a role as a true freshman or does the backfield depth mean a redshirt is the likely path? 

Meyer has already singled out guys like Dallas Gant and even Nicholas Petit-Frere (a June arrival) as players who will see the field early on. But linebacker and offensive tackle are two units with some question marks. Given the running back situation, it's no surprise that things have mostly been quiet regarding Teague, and there's still nearly five months until the season kicks off 

From what we've seen so far – albeit a brief glimpse – I don't think there's anyone questioning whether or not the 5-foot-11, 215-pounder is physically ready for action. The ankle was a slight concern a few months ago, but that clearly is now a thing of the past. He rushed for 73 yards and a score on Saturday and definitely flashed from time to time.

It's bound to be a tough path toward playing time, but Master Teague seems to be making all of the right moves early on.

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