Time For Playmakers To Step Up At OSU

With the injury to Braxton Miller, the onus for the Buckeyes to have a successful offense in 2014 switched immediately to the backs, receivers and tight ends the Buckeyes have, who can make things a lot easier on the young QBs. BSB takes a look at which players might make the leap.

With Ohio State set to begin the season with J.T. Barrett as the starting quarterback, there has been a lot of talk about how the redshirt freshman would be helped out a lot by the increased playmakers at his disposal.

But one must also remember the Buckeyes have lost their leading rusher and leading receiver from last year, so more than 80 percent of the rushing yards and 40 percent of the passing yards just don’t return from last year.

So which of those playmakers will Barrett and the offense be depending on this year? There are a ton to choose form, so BSB looks at the pros and cons of each back, receiver and tight end on the roster and which ones might be closest to breaking out and playing a big role.

Running Back
Ezekiel Elliott
Pro: Ohio State’s leading returning rusher, Elliott is a good combo of speed and power. He’s fast enough to get to the edge and big enough that he’s hard to bring down with an arm tackle.
Con: Elliott is only a sophomore and had wrist surgery during camp so his reps –especially against contact – have been limited.

Roderick Smith
Pro: As a senior, he’s reached last call, and the physical 6-3, 231-pounder has earned a lot of praise from Meyer this fall. A former four-star prospect, he has some experience having carried the ball 83 times in his career.
Con: Smith was a nonentity last year and didn’t factor into the spring discussions as he battled academics issues. Early-career fumbling issues and an upright running style have also hurt him in the past.

Brionte Dunn
Pro: A highly touted back coming out of high school, Dunn is a combo back who can do it all at 6-0, 216. He had some good moments as a true freshman in 2012, including a 73-yard game vs. Illinois, and his been praised this fall.
Con: Dunn redshirted last year in the crowded backfield and will be facing a similar cast as he tried to differentiate himself from his sophomore classmates.

Curtis Samuel
Pro: One of Urban Meyer’s favorite freshmen on the team, Samuel plays with an attitude, which pairs nicely with his blinding speed.
Con: He’s a freshman, first of all, so you never know about ball security. Also, at 5-11, 196, he isn’t a pile mover, meaning he seems like he’d be most useful on the edge, not as an every down back.

Warren Ball
Pro: Ball has steadily improved at Ohio State, looked good in the spring and picked up garbage time experience last year. He could be an effective inside runner at 224 pounds.
Con: He missed the early throes of fall camp with a foot/ankle injury and hasn’t seemed to be in the battle this fall.

Dontre Wilson
Pro: He was a spring star upon his move to the slot, where his speed makes him a matchup nightmare for linebackers. A track star in high school, Wilson has also bulked up to 188 pounds to give him the ability to break arm tackles.
Con: Wilson’s touches were limited last year despite his ballyhooed nature, and he faces strong competition from behind.

Jalin Marshall
Pro: A five-star prospect coming out of high school, Marshall has been on the lips of the offensive players this fall thanks to his game-breaking ability. He’s also healthy after taking a redshirt at least somewhat related to injuries a season ago.
Con: Must usurp Wilson for playing time, though there’s been talk Wilson could get some reps at RB. A redshirt freshman, he hasn’t earned any collegiate playing time yet.

Parris Campbell
Pro: A high school star, Campbell is just one in a long line of running back/wide receiver combinations that possesses the speed and athletic ability Meyer craves.
Con: Young for his age, Campbell hasn’t created much buzz this camp and could be ticketed for a redshirt.

Wide Receiver
Devin Smith
Pro: One of the top deep threats in the Big Ten for two seasons, Smith can take the top off of a defense and should be primed for a standout senior season.
Con: Smith has been inconsistent and plagued by drops over the years, plus he has been banged up this spring thanks to a car accident and a hamstring injury.

Evan Spencer
Pro: An excellent blocker and a solid wideout, Spencer should also be looking to make the most of his final campaign.
Con: After 37 catches in three seasons, the jury is out if Spencer can be a standout target.

Mike Thomas
Pro: Thomas was a spring standout as he used his 6-3 frame to haul in circus catches. He also has some speed and can block.
Con: Redshirted last year after a rough start to the campaign, Thomas could be rusty and must show he can be consistent at the D-I level. Also lacks an elite skill.

Corey Smith
Pro: Described as a player with all the tools in the toolbox, Smith could be ready for a breakout as he has all the athletic ability in the world in his 6-1 frame.
Con: A JUCO transfer and a redshirt last year, Smith must be consistent and get used to the speed of the game.

James Clark
Pro: He was good enough to see the field last year as a true freshman before an injury ended his campaign, and Clark is known for his speed, something that can get anyone on the field under Meyer.
Con: At 5-10, he’s short in stature, and Clark must prove that he’s 100 percent after last year’s injury.

Johnnie Dixon
Pro: An early enrollee, Dixon has shown his maturity and playmaking skills throughout his OSU career so far.
Con: A true freshman, Dixon is still raw and must get the offense down.

Jeff Greene
Pro: A big body, Greene looked good at times in spring and has Division I playing experience after starting his career at Georgia Tech.
Con: There hasn’t been much buzz about the transfer this fall and there are more explosive options out there.

Noah Brown
Pro: A big body, Brown can use his frame to shield off defenders, and he’s shown he’s not afraid to be physical in camp.
Con: A freshman at a deep position, Brown might have trouble working his way through the depth chart, and a redshirt seems likely.

Terry McLaurin
Pro: A noted burner, McLaurin was Indiana’s prep Mr. Football and can make plays that change the game.
Con: He seems likely to fall victim to the same numbers crunch as Brown, as there are a number of similar quick targets in front of him.

Tight End
Jeff Heuerman
Pro: A dependable target who has shown he has the quickness and hands to make plays down the seam, Heuerman will be a captain and a major part of the attack as a senior.
Con: Heuerman could be limited early in the season by offseason foot surgery, and he isn’t quite as athletic as the elite players at his position.

Nick Vannett
Pro: A good enough player who has improved his blocking enough that the Buckeyes might consider 12 personnel, Vannett has great size and hands and is a born pass catcher
Con: Hasn’t quite had the chance to showcase his skills yet, and talk of increased contributions out of the tight end position at times at OSU has been just that.

Marcus Baugh
Pro: An elite pass-catching tight end coming out of high school, Baugh showed in the spring he can make plays down the field.
Con: Still looking to find consistency, Baugh will also have to contend with the two excellent players above him.

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