No. 3: Jalin Marshall
Jersey No.: 17
High School: Middletown, Ohio
Rating: Five-star prospect in the 2013 class
Career stats: Marshall had injury troubles during his first fall camp and redshirted before becoming one of the team's options in the slot last year. He became the full-time "H" after an injury to Dontre Wilson, piling up 154 rushing yards and a score, 499 receiving yards and six touchdowns on 38 catches (second on the team), and 283 punt return yards with a TD. The highlight of his season was a four-touchdown day to help the Buckeyes stave off Indiana's upset bid the week before the Michigan game.
Playmaking skills: Speed, cutting ability, athleticism, hands
What They’re Saying: As part of the wide receiver roulette that happened this spring, Marshall moved from the slot to the outside at the orders of wideouts coach Zach Smith.
The goal? To make him into more of a complete player.
“I moved Jalin outside, just for the spring," Smith said. "The way our defense plays so much press man on the outside, I wanted Jalin to go in and get that work on the outside. I wanted him to get press-man work because that’s something you don’t get a lot of in the slot. I think to take his game to the next level that’s a critical piece. I don’t think he’s going to play out there, though he has the flexibility to play out there, but he’s getting a good 15-practice block of press man against guys like Eli, guys like Gareon, getting that great work that he would have otherwise missed out on.”
If Marshall keeps adding to his game, that's a scary thought to opponents. The five-star prospect coming out of high school showed his straight line speed a year ago when he posted a number of long touchdowns -- he had touchdowns of 57 and 54 yards in back-to-back weeks vs. Minnesota and Indiana, not to mention a punt return TD vs. the Hoosiers -- and also clued fans in on his excellent hands and ability to run through arm tackles.
Now the goal is to make him a complete receiver, someone who can get off the line and make plays while also showing the ability to make more guys miss.
“The first couple practices it was rough, you know, but with coaching and technique I’ve gotten better throughout the spring," Marshall said. "With the game plan I think I’ll be able to move anywhere on the field. If they want me outside for matchup purposes, they’ll put me outside. If I have to play inside I can. I don’t think there is set position yet, but it’s working towards me being a better overall player.”
"The biggest difference is maybe when I was inside I could free release up to the safety, now somebody is in your face right now so you have to be able to work on that," he said. "It’s allowed me to be able to play fast and run deeper routes. It’s allowed me to get better on my deep ball skills and I think develop a name for myself to replace Devin if need be.”
Playing fast? Deeper routes? Replacing Devin Smith?
It sounds like Marshall could be the playmaker the Buckeyes are looking for in 2015.
"He left the year at the starting H, the best H we had," Smith said. "I’m not going to put him outside just because we can if he is the best at the slot. Now maybe we come out of fall camp and say he is one of the best three and it’s another guy at the slot and he is outside, sure that could happen. The flexibility is what I am training him for, the ability to get him outside if that’s what Ohio State needs, if that’s what our offense needs.
"It’s also going to help him because the slot will occasionally get press. He was okay at it, but he wasn’t great at it. I’m trying to get him great at it so even if he is in the slot, he can be dynamic in any situation.”