After Marshall redshirted last season, the pair have been used as interchangeable parts by the coaching staff this year. Within the offense they share a lot. They share a spot atop the depth chart at the ‘H’ position and share responsibilities as punt and kick returners.
Despite the constant competition, there is no animosity between Marshall and Wilson. After all, they also share an address.
“That’s my roommate. Me and Dontre are pretty close, that’s like my brother,” Marshall said. “Anything we can do to make each other better, we do.”
It’s no surprise that when asked about an offensive identity after the Buckeyes 66-0 decimation of Kent State on Sept. 20, Meyer listed Wilson and Marshall side by side.
“I think we have a lot of speed, and you can tell we're trying to get guys in open space to see what they can do because you've got Jalin Marshall, who's a very talented guy; Dontre Wilson, I could go down the list, but we're still trying to get our hands on exactly who's going to touch that ball,” Meyer said.
Despite the similarities and the eagerness of the coaching staff to list them next to another, both on the depth chart and aloud, there are differences in the two skill players.
Marshall played quarterback for Middletown (Ohio) High School, but was ranked as the No. 6 receiver and No. 32 overall player in the 2013 class by Scout.com, a five-star prospect at 5-11, 205. Wilson, meanwhile, was ranked the No. 10 running back in the class after excelling at the position at Desoto (Texas) High School. Smaller than Marshall at 5-10, 188, Wilson was a four-star recruit, the fiftieth ranked player in his class.
“I’m more of a bigger player,” Marshall said of their major on-field differences, “I probably can run through more tackles. He’s faster than me so he can run away from more tackles, but that’s probably the biggest difference in our games.”
Wilson was used as what coach Urban Meyer called a novelty during his freshman season while Marshall redshirted with a knee injury. That year of extra game reps, however, has allowed Wilson to keep an edge over his roommate. The Texan has a team-high 419 all-purpose yards thanks in large part to his kick and punt returning duties.
Marshall, meanwhile, has 102 all-purpose yards, propped up by a 51-yard punt return against Kent State. That’s an area that the redshirt freshman may see the field more going forward, though it would unfortunately be at the expense of his roommate.
“Me and Dontre are always competing for a spot to make a play, but I always feel like if I’m out there or if he’s out there, we can both make the big play,” Marshall said. “It will be fortunate if that’s me.”
If Marshall is able to make more plays, he can go home and share a celebration with Wilson.