It will be a new experience for all of them, but some are already more acclimated to college life than others. Seven of the freshmen enrolled early at OSU – either in January or March – and went through the Buckeyes' spring practices, giving them a chance to get a jump on learning the playbook and grow physically.
Each of the early enrollees spoke about the benefits of their decision to get a head start on their college careers Tuesday afternoon at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
"I had to come here," said offensive lineman Tommy Brown, who was one of two players who arrived in March for the start of OSU's spring quarter. "If I didn't come here in June I wouldn't know anything. I had to learn the playbook, so that's why I came here in the spring."
Brown was the beneficiary of extra reps, not only because he came to OSU early but because he was one of 10 linemen available to the Buckeyes during the spring. That allowed him to work on learning plays and gaining knowledge from more experienced teammates.
"(Learning the playbook) was my biggest (benefit), just learning the plays and getting to know everybody like (senior center Michael) Brewster and (senior tackle) Mike Adams. Those veteran guys that have been around have helped me a lot."
Getting the playbook early and having a chance to study it was a benefit several of the early enrollees mentioned, including arguably the star of the class – quarterback Braxton Miller. Miller not only got a chance to establish himself as a contender for the starting job this season but also got to play in the spring game and impress. He completed 7 of 12 passes for 73 yards in a touchdown.
Despite that solid performance, Miller said learning all he will need to know in order to succeed at QB will take time.
"It'll probably take years to get everything down pat, (but coming to OSU early is) a big advantage," said Miller, who along with defensive back Jeremy Cash, defensive tackle Joel Hale, tight end Jeff Heuerman and linebacker Ryan Shazier, arrived in January for the start of OSU's winter quarter.
It may take time to get the mental aspect of the game down, but the early enrollees – and all the freshmen for that matter – have already gone through a physical transformation. Miller, for example, is up to 215 pounds after weighing in at an even 200 at a post-high school all-star game.
Heuerman is also among those who bulked up.
"My first physical when I got here I was at 224 (pounds)," he said. "I was about 254 before I left for the summer. So I've changed a little bit physically."
Shazier said in the spring that the transition from high school to college was difficult, but added on Tuesday that things are starting to improve already.
"Everything is becoming easier," he said. "I'm learning a lot more about the position and everything. I have some great guys in front of me that are teaching me. It's a lot better now."
Defensive back Ron Tanner has also seen an improvement. He joined Brown as players who arrived in March, but he too saw plenty of action in the spring because of injuries in the secondary, something the Columbus Eastmoor Academy product was grateful for.
"The spring was a big eye opener for me because this is a big difference from high school to college, but I'm glad I had the opportunity to come in the spring," he said. "I got a head start. Going into fall camp I would be clueless to this point about the playbook, but since I came in the spring I got a little jump start."
It is certainly too early to determine who among the freshmen will see the field and/or get significant playing time this fall, but the early enrollees may be a step ahead.