Young Life: 10 Bold Predictions For Ohio State Freshmen and Sophomores This Season

By David Wertheim on July 28, 2018 at 8:45 am
"The Predator" Chase Young

In 2014, Ohio State's freshman quarterback led them through the season before giving way to the sophomore. Fellow sophs, Ezekiel Elliott and Joey Bosa, wreaked havoc on opposing teams, unless Michael Thomas had already done so. Freshman Billy Price was a staple on the offensive line, and Darron Lee and Raekwon McMillan held down the linebacking spots. 

This season, freshmen and sophomores will have to be key contributors again if Ohio State wants to have any chance whatsoever at winning the national championship. Here are 10 bold predictions for those classes: 

1. Chase Young has more sacks than Nick Bosa

Chase Young is a freak:

They don't call him "The Predator" for nothing. A five-star out of DeMatha Catholic in Maryland, Young tallied 3.5 sacks last year in limited playing time as part of Larry Johnson's defensive line rotation.

This season, with three defensive ends graduated, Ohio State doesn't have as much depth as in recent seasons, leading many to expect Bosa and Young to get the lions share of snaps, with Jonathon Cooper rotating in. 

While Bosa has the name, the bloodlines, and the hoopla surrounding him, Young is a name that many national fans will know by the end of the season. Another bold prediction is that both of them get double-digit sacks. I think Bosa finishes with 10 (he had nine last year), and Young gets 11.5. The Buckeyes as a team had 46 last year, good for third in the NCAA. It will be hard to improve that, but anything is possible with this duo leading the charge. 

2. Dwayne Haskins Throws For 3,500 Yards

J.T. Barrett passed for 3,053 yards a season ago. 19 quarterbacks hit the 3,500 yard benchmark last season, including Penn State's Trace McSorley, despite Saquon Barkley recording over 1,200 rushing yards. Even though Ohio State is expected to have a potent rushing attack this year, McSorley's success proves that it is certainly possible to put up large numbers in both departments. 

With the expectation that Haskins is a pass-first, pro-style quarterback, the offense will certainly have to change for him. With all six of Ohio State 'starting' wide receivers returning, and being led by NFL veteran Brian Hartline, there is no reason that Haskins cannot reach the 3,500 yard mark. 

3. Both Tyreke's Play Important Minutes in 2018

Tyreke Smith and Tyreke Johnson were both crown jewels of Ohio State's 2018 class. Johnson, a five star, is best known for his physical play, which led him to be ranked as the #2 safety in his class.

While it has been said that Johnson will be playing cornerback at Ohio State, the Buckeyes have an open spot at safety. If Isaiah Pryor fails to impress, the job could be open for Johnson to slide right in. 

Smith, on the other hand, could rotate in as the fourth defensive end, behind Nick Bosa, Chase Young, and Jonathon Cooper, because Ohio State isn't exactly "stacked" at this position heading into 2018 after the graduations of Tyquan Lewis, Jalyn Holmes, and Sam Hubbard, He is another athletic freak who should thrive under the coaching of Larry Johnson.

4. Pete Werner Impresses 

With Jerome Baker and Chris Worley, off to the NFL, and Tuf Borland sidelined with an achilles injury, Werner, a late, under-publicized flip from Notre Dame, could step up at one of the vacant spots.

Urban Meyer has already raved about Werner. "One of the most improved players on our team the last couple of weeks," Meyer said of Werner last October. "Buy stock in that guy for his career. He's got some good stuff going right now."

It is now Werner's turn to put it all together and become a force at the linebacker position for the Buckeyes.

5. Jeff Okudah Makes First-Team All Big Ten

Ohio State has had a long line of successful defensive backs in recent years, as Eli Apple, Marshon Lattimore, Malik Hooker, and Gareon Conley all found themselves being selected in the first round. Although coach Kerry Coombs departed to the NFL as well, there is still reason to be excited about Okudah heading into 2018.

For one, the coaching shouldn't really suffer much of a hit. Taver Johnson has been known as a good developer of under-rated talent, and now, with a five-star at his disposal, the sky is the limit for Okudah, who will likely slide in to Ward's spot alongside Kendall Sheffield. 

Now, I'm not saying that Okudah will necessarily be an All-American, but I do believe he will be one of the best in the Big Ten. 

6. Jeremy Ruckert Is the Starting Tight End By the End of the Season

Although he has Luke Farrell, Jake Hausmann, and Rashod Berry in front of him—at least, as of now—Ruckert has a good chance to jump them by the end of the year.

The highest-rated tight end recruited to Ohio State by Urban Meyer, Ruckert had a decorated offer list including Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Michigan, and Penn State, among 20 others from Power-5 teams. 

While every year it seems "this is the year they will finally throw to the tight end," Ohio State really hasn't had a tight end "worthy" of being thrown to all that much. Ruckert could change that instantly. 

7. Thayer Munford Starts Every Game, and Plays Well

The last addition to Ohio State's star-studded 2017 class, Munford was severely underrated as he was forced to sit out his senior high school season due to a transfer violation issue. 

Upon arriving to Ohio State, he established himself as a major bright spot early in camp, and carried that over to the regular season. Now, he is in the drivers seat to be the starting right tackle on opening day, a spot he shouldn't relinquish.

While Isaiah Prince had major issues in his first season as a starter, the bold prediction here is that Munford has none of those problems, and it's smooth sailing for the Buckeyes on the right side of the offensive line. 

8. Tate Martell Scores Eight or More Touchdowns

Last year, Dwayne Haskins scored four touchdowns in a reserve role. This year, with the promise that Martell will likely receive meaningful snaps in a potential "Wildcat" role, there is a chance he could double Haskins' output, especially if Ohio State uses him as a "red-zone specialist."

With Dwayne Haskins expected to sling it all over the field, Martell could represent a familiar style of offense from recent years as he has been noted for his run-first tendencies, much like J.T. Barrett. With this kind of offense being effective in the red-zone, Martell could draw extended looks down there.

9. Amir Riep Surprises

A GMC product, coming from Colerain High School, and with a season of Ohio State football under his belt, Riep knows what it is like to play against the best. He excelled on special teams last year, recording nine tackles, and is expected to take on a bigger role on defense this season.

A versatile player who can play either cornerback or safety, Riep's name has flown under-the-radar among Ohio State fans, despite him being the #186 overall player in the 2017 class. Maybe it's being a GMC alum myself, but I predict big things for Riep this year.

10. Tommy Togiai Records Meaningful Minutes

Togiai became the first member of Ohio State's 2018 class to lose his black stripe this spring. While this doesn't mean everything, the earlier you lose your black stripe, the more likely you are to play early, at least that has been the historical precedent set so far by Urban Meyer's Ohio State teams.

Togiai was a high four-star recruit out of high school, and with his already college-type frame, it is possible that he could slide in for meaningful minutes alongside of or in relief of Robert Landers, Davon Hamilton, or Dre'Mont Jones. 

View 77 Comments