That's what we think, so with that in mind, we're asking 20 Questions when it comes to the Ohio State football team. Every day from now until the opening game week, we'll have our BSB writers answer one question about the Ohio State football team. Some will be serious, some will be funny, and none will be "Animal, vegetable or mineral?" But all should help you think about the upcoming season, hopefully in a different way than before.
Question 9: How many true freshmen will have their redshirts pulled this season? Who will they be?
Ryan Ginn: Redshirting is one of those things where you just don’t know. The 2013 class, now regarded as a program-changing one for Ohio State, only had six (six!!!!) guys play as true freshmen, and two of those (James Clark and Darron Lee) went on to take medical redshirts. The 2014 class had about half of its 23 guys play, and I think that’s a reasonable expectation for the 25 guys from the 2015 class even though the Buckeyes return so many starters. Off the top of my head, I’ll say that Torrance Gibson, Mike Weber, Eric Glover-Williams, Isaiah Prince and K.J. Hill will certainly see the field at some point this season. I’ll also – via special teams or blowout duty – go with Nick Conner, Jerome Baker, Justin Hilliard, Denzel Ward, Jashon Cornell, Alex Stump and Matthew Burrell. That’s a dozen guys, which would be a pretty solid achievement for this class considering the amount of talent on the roster when they arrived.
Jeff Svoboda: This is a fun question because so much of it depends not on the freshmen themselves but the players above them. As Ginn pointed out, even a class as seminal as the Buckeyes' 2013 class started not with a bang but a whimper, one reason the team had so many freshman All-Americans last year -- guys like Eli Apple, Billy Price and Darron Lee were redshirted the year before.
So this time around, what will happen? Well, looking at what is now a 25-man class, I came up with 10 guys I think will play, led by three standout linebackers in Justin Hilliard, Jerome Baker and Nick Conner. I think each has the ability to be a guy who can run down the field and contribute on special teams at the very least and also play minutes against lesser opposition to make them ready a year from now when the Buckeyes lose, at the very least, Joshua Perry and Camren Williams.
At the skill positions, Torrance Gibson and Mike Weber have been the talk of camp, and I think they play. Gibson moved specifically to get on the field, and I think his skills as a 6-4 wideout who can run a 4.4 40 are pretty obvious. He's young and raw but can seriously play. Weber, meanwhile, is built like a brick you-know-what-house and assuming he recovers fine from his minor knee surgery will definitely carry the ball.
Looking at the rest of my choices, I think the news Isaiah Prince was the first guy to lose his black stripe and was working with the second-team offensive line means he's gonna see some action at some point, while the rest of the linemen will redshirt because that's the one spot the Buckeyes like to do that. Eric Glover-Williams is too talented not to play and could be a key guy by season's end if he captures the nickel spot he seems destined to play. I also feel like K.J. Hill is too talented to keep off the field in some way even though the Buckeyes are pretty stacked at the skill spots. Two more names to watch -- I think one of the freshmen defensive tackles will get his feet wet, so I'll with Robert Landers; and I think one of the two tight ends will see some action, so I'll go with Rashod Berry, partly because I'm from Lorain and partly because I know he played defense in high school and can also use his speed and size to help out on special teams.
Blake Williams: Urban Meyer has said repeatedly that he hates wasting a year with an elite athlete by redshirting him, and the Buckeyes' incoming class is stockpiled with elite athletes. My thinking is most of them are used in some capacity this season. The coach did add that offensive and defensive line are the most difficult spots to crack the two-deep as a true freshman, so I think fewer of those players will see the field this season.
In my mind the absolute locks to play this season are Torrance Gibson, Mike Weber (assuming his knee injury is as minor as reported), Eric Glover-Williams and Isaiah Prince. Yes, I know that Prince plays on the line, but he has gotten such rave reviews and the depth at tackle is an issue so I think he sees time with the second team. The three young linebackers – Nick Conner, Justin Hilliard and Jerome Baker – will all play on special teams at least. Though the receiver rotation is deep, I think that receivers K.J. Hill and Alex Stump will be used on special teams at least. That gets me to nine true freshmen having their redshirts pulled and I am probably missing at least one. The Buckeyes will blow enough teams out that another offensive lineman could see the field, let’s say Matthew Burrell, and perhaps one of the first-year tight ends. Add it all up and I’ll go with 11.
Question 1: Who Will Start At Quarterback For Ohio State?
Question 2: If Ohio State swapped coaches with the other team for every game, what would its regular season record be?
Question 3: How noticeable will the loss of Tom Herman be?
Question 4: If Ohio State could bring back one player from 2014 for this season, who would it be?
Question 5: More all-purpose yards: Braxton Miller, Dontre Wilson or Curtis Samuel?
Question 6: Aside from Michigan State, which Big Ten team should Buckeye fans be most worried about?
Question 7: Seven Buckeyes made 1st or 2nd team All-Big Ten last year (four are back). How many make it this year?
Question 8: What kind of leash will the starting quarterback have? (Or to put it more clearly, what kind of performance would it take for the starting quarterback to fully lose that job – not just be subbed out for a series or two?)?