Ohio State’s fall camp, and the upcoming season, will be defined by inexperienced.
With more than half of the scholarship roster carrying freshman eligibility the Buckeyes are leaning heavily on the six returning starters they do have.
There is one player, however, who Ohio State figures to lean on despite a dearth of experience.
Noah Brown has just one catch in his two years on campus, but his name is all but written in pen atop the Ohio State depth chart at wide receiver after missing last season with a broken leg.
“I’m happy to see my man Noah back,” quarterback J.T. Barrett said. “That was my man last year, it was good to see him back.
“Noah, I trust. If the guy is on top of Noah, I can just put it anywhere around Noah and he’s going to get it. I know Noah has my back and if the ball is anywhere in the air, it’s his.”
Brown was the talk of fall camp in 2015 before suffering the broken leg on the final day of fall camp. That cost him the entirety of last season, but the big-bodied wide receiver is thought to be the favorite target of Barrett this season.
The 6-2, 218-pound receiver was seen at practice yesterday and did not have any sort of brace on his leg after spending much of spring practice in a walking boot.
Brown wasn’t the only injured wide receiver welcomed back into the fold when camp opened as senior Corey Smith was awarded an additional year of eligibility after breaking his leg against Indiana last season.
Between the two of them Smith and Brown enter camp with four years of experience in the program and the pair will be charged with leading a young but talented group of wideouts for the Buckeyes this year.
“Having them back is good for us because you know that they are interchangeable enough to be interchangeable with the X and Z on the outside guys,” Barrett said. “With that it helps us play faster and know that I don’t have to worry about them. We’re not having the same conversations that I would with a young guy. That’s something that is good to have back and then just confidence with those guys as well.
“Noah and Corey, they have that mentality where when the ball is in the air, it’s mine, especially if it’s in my area.”
While those two will certainly be pushed by younger receivers like Austin Mack, Torrance Gibson and K.J. Hill – and the coaching staff will certainly rotate plenty of playmakers in at wide receiver – Smith and Brown have an experience edge on everyone else in their unit and enter camp as the leaders to be named starters.
Those types of decisions were not the focus yesterday, instead head coach Urban Meyer was just pleased to see guys back on the field.
“The hardest part of our profession is when a player gets hurt, and one of the greatest parts is when they come back and join their team again,” he said. “So I just love that, I do that every year, see the guys light up because they’re playing the game they love again and being around the kids they love being around.”