Ohio State’s spring practice is around the corner. The Buckeyes have already started training for the 2016 season and the team will take the field for the first time March 8. With nine underclassmen and a number of seniors departing from the 2015 team that went 12-1, there are plenty of questions surrounding the 2016 Buckeyes. BuckeyeSports.com is taking a look at some of the young players suiting up for Ohio State this spring and what they have to gain between now and the Buckeyes April 16 Spring Game.
What Mack Has Done: As far as college goes, nothing (other than suffering through the first portion of strength coach Mickey Marotti’s winter training program). But as a high school star at Fort Wayne (Ind.) Bishop Luers, Mack put up video game numbers as a pass catcher, ball carrier and kick returner. According to a signing day release from Ohio State, Mack scored 49 career touchdowns, including six kick returns, and finished his career with 2,672 receiving yards. As a senior he ran for 718 yards and still managed to haul in 41 passes for 805 yards.
What The Coaches Are Saying: “Austin Mack is a guy that’s already made an impact in this program. He should probably play this year.” – Head Coach Urban Meyer
What Mack’s Teammates Are Saying: “We have a young freshman, Austin Mack, I think he's going to get some reps. He came in early. He's been grinding out here in the offseason.
“He's got a little fight in him. That's the thing, when things are hard in our workouts, those are the times you see you're like all right, he's got a little dog in him.” – Junior Quarterback J.T. Barrett
Why Mack’s Important: Because he plays receiver and Michael Thomas, Jalin Marshall and Braxton Miller are off to the NFL. By default the Buckeyes are going to have a bunch of younger and unproven players split wide for Barrett to throw to, and Ohio State might need Mack to be one of those main targets. Noah Brown is more or less penciled in to be a starter and senior Corey Smith is back for one more year, but players like Mack or Torrance Gibson will be tasked with filling a big role despite having limited time in the program.
What Mack Has To Gain: What not one true freshman offensive skill player had least year – playing time. And that doesn’t even mean extensive playing time. Of the four Ohio State players to see the field as true freshmen last season only tackle Isaiah Prince played on offense. Michael Thomas and Marshall gone, not to mention Miller, there’s a huge chunk of production that needs to go somewhere. Mack has a college-ready game and will be around for all of spring practice. He could use that extra time to launch himself into early playing time once the season starts, and maybe even a starting role once it’s all said and done.
Check out more from our series on the most interesting young Buckeyes: