Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer announced Monday evening that running back Bri'onte Dunn had been dismissed from the team for violating team rules, meaning the Buckeyes will be without a pure running back with playing experience heading into 2016. With young guns like Mike Weber and Antonio Williams still in the fold, plus H-backs Curtis Samuel and Dontre Wilson on board, the Buckeyes still have some options in the backfield next season.
That said, Dunn's departure still leaves some questions to be answered in fall camp. Here's my take on what could be ahead for the Buckeye offense this year:
- Dunn had a legit chance to start for the Buckeyes week one against Bowling Green, but he was never going to be "the guy" all season. That will be the redshirt-freshman Weber, who has the ability to be a feature back for Ohio State – but he won't necessarily be ready to carry the load that Ezekiel Elliott had last year. Regardless, you can put Weber's name down in ink as the week one starter.
- Sure, Dunn was a five-star recruit once upon a time, but he just never really panned out at Ohio State and he spent time in Meyer's doghouse over the years. Even if he was on the team, there's no knowing what kind of impact he would've had on the field.
- Weber is probably the best pure running back on the team, but Samuel – who played running back as a freshman and even started over Elliott in one game – is probably the Buckeyes' top playmaker on offense. There's no longer any pressure on the coaches to get a senior like Dunn carries (if there ever was any), meaning Samuel's role out of the backfield, rather than as a receiver, could be expanded. With the numbers low at running back, and the experience even lower, there has to be some chance that Samuel moves to the backfield full time, which means...
- ...Wilson, who is on the watch list for the Hornung Award given annually to the nation's most versatile player, could be the main man at H. He's got a ton of talent, which he flashed out of the backfield and as a returner as a freshman, and he's been in a starting spot before. Wilson has always been held back by injuries, but if he's healthy and Samuel does move to the backfield in some capacity, Wilson could be one of the biggest surprises for the Buckeyes in 2016.
- After Weber, Samuel and Wilson, the options are extremely slim. Quarterback J.T. Barrett is certainly a great runner and he'll get his carries, but after that the Buckeyes are down to four-star freshmen Williams and Demario Mccall. Williams was an early enrollee who impressed during spring practice, so I could see him spelling Weber/Samuel from time to time this year. Mccall is a little more of an unknown to those outside the program since he didn't arrive until the summer, but if his high school career is any indicator he could be an electric playmaker.
In summary, Dunn being dismissed certainly isn't something anyone wanted, but at the end of the day it might not have a huge impact on what Ohio State does offensively in 2016. The Buckeyes are in good hands with Barrett, Weber and Samuel all seemingly poised for big years and others like Wilson in line to make their share of big plays.
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