One week into the season, it looks like six true freshmen will play for the Buckeyes this season.
Things can change in a hurry if injuries pop up, but right now the number looks like a solid six.
The freshman that will likely see the most playing time is tight end Louis Irizarry. He is running with the third team and is also involved on special teams. Irizarry came in with a lot of hype and hasn't done a thing to disappoint. He won't put up big numbers this year, but will see a lot of time behind Ben Hartsock and Ryan Hamby.
Tailback Ira Guilford is running with the third team right now. With Jim Tressel's "pair and a spare" theory, borrowed from Woody, Guilford is sure to get a lot of playing time this week against San Diego State. With the issues at tailback, he might be needed later in the season in some crucial games, and right now is the time to get him ready. He had a nice debut late in the Washington game.
Guilford, who was expected to be a backup safety this year, put up some impressive rushing numbers in high school. As a senior, the Hoboken, N.J. native racked up 2,268 yards and 29 touchdowns.
Probably the only other frosh on the offensive side of the ball that won't get a redshirt is lineman Kirk Barton. The Buckeyes are following a recruiting tactic used by Kirk Ferentz at Iowa: take big athletic tight ends and turn them into offensive linemen. Barton was a standout TE/DE in high school, but has made a smooth transition to the O-line. It says a lot that he is already listed on the two-deep.
Looking at the defense, you have to start with David Patterson. The big tackle has some serious quickness for a player his size, and plays low. With so much talent on Ohio State's defensive line, there really isn't a big need for him this year. But he is so good that it doesn't even matter. Patterson is going to share time on the second-team with Marcus Green and Quinn Pitcock, and he's going to be tough to keep off the field. He looks like a young Warren Sapp out there, minus some pounds and a mouth.
Youboty, who has wheels and good size, is listed as a second-team corner. He had a rough spring fresh out of high school, but just kept working and the coaches love his potential. He is technically the fourth corner behind E.J. Underwood, so he likely won't be the nickel back this season. Safeties Nate Salley and Brandon Mitchell rotate as the nickel back and it's Underwood after that.
Whitner is not on the two-deep, but there is a lot of talent in front of him at safety. (Who would have thought we'd be able to say that this year?) He will get some time in the secondary, but will make most of his noise on teams.
Defensive prospects DL Brandon Maupin, DE Marcel Frost, OLB Reggie Smith and OLB Curt Lukens have all been impressive so far. Very impressive. But the coaches might look to redshirt all of them. Tressel said that Lukens will definitely be redshirted, but added that he is very excited about the young linebacker. Maupin needs some polish, but he's going to be a force.
How 'bout "Crazy Legs" Krenzel? His running skills should not surprise you by now. There is no way they should. But they do. He just has a knack for it.
Let the Heisman campaign begin. I still think Chris Gamble is a good candidate if he plays more on offense, but Krenzel is going to get a lot of attention from Heisman voters. Hopefully the Bucks continue to air it out so he can prove he's a good passer too.
The Bucks have things good at quarterback right now, and the future is looking pretty bright as well. Troy Smith and Justin Zwick just continue to impress. Some fans won't want to hear this, but it's looking more and more like there could be a two-QB system next year – at least to begin the season. Maybe one will win the job before then, but the competition is looking real tight right now, and it looks like a healthy competition. Fans are going to debate who should start, but the two young QBs are friends and seem to work well with each other in practice. Chances are they will both get a shot at playing time next year and what happens on the field will decide who gets the job.
One thing is certain: the Bucks have never been stacked like this at quarterback. Krenzel will go down as one of the best ever at OSU; McMullen is probably one of the best backups; Smith and Zwick are loaded with talent; and Todd Boeckman is beginning his first of six years.
It first jumped out to us at media day last month: Simon Fraser was huge.
Fraser was always kind of big, but he was sort of gangly at the same time. Now, he is one of the bigger defensive ends you are going to find, and has the speed and quickness to match. With teams focusing on All-American candidates Tim Anderson, Darrion Scott and Will Smith, Fraser is going to make a lot of big plays, like the ones we saw against Washington.
BIG CHANGE IN COLUMBUS RADIO
Until a couple of weeks ago, there was two all-sports radio stations in Columbus: 1460 The Fan (ESPN) and 1230 The Zone (FOX). However, The Zone recently went out of business. The reason it gave was that it took a huge ratings hit going up against The Fan (which is loaded with Buckeye coverage).
But, the two stations seemed to serve different fan bases. Buckeye loyalists are always tuned into The Fan – especially during Chris Spielman's two shows and Kirk Herbstreit's afternoon show. But sports fans not originally from Ohio probably liked some of the national stuff offered by The Zone.
And The Zone actually had some good shows. Mark Patrick In the Morning was much better than ESPN's Mike and Mike. I also preferred Tony Bruno over Tony Kornheiser. I went back and forth with the Dan Patrick v. Jim Rome debate. If I wanted to hear about sports and hear Rob Dibble say something stupid, I went with Patrick. If I wanted to hear a comedian for a while, it was Rome.
The Zone will continue to air Reds games, but is now an oldies station. Maybe it will play an abundance of Hang on Sloopy to make up for it.
HOUSE HOLDS TOGETHER
When Tressel was hired, he made the analogy that hiring a staff of assistants was like building a house. Well, three years later, that house is still intact. All but one of the original coaches is still here and the staff is one of the best in the nation. Ken Conaster was the special teams coach in 2001, but left abruptly for Kansas. Luke Fickell was hired to replace him and that is looking like a pretty good trade-off for the Bucks.
Technically, you could also count strength coach Dave Kennedy as an original member of the staff. He stayed on through spring of 2001 before being replaced by Al Johnson.
WHITE MEN CAN'T WHAT?
Dustin Fox is challenging some stereotypes with his 42-inch vertical. He has the best "vert" of anyone to play at OSU since it started keeping track. His field goal block against Washington might not be the only one we see him stuff this year. I would have to think Nate Salley could also be affective in that area.
It might not happen this game, but I look for Lydell Ross to eventually get the bulk of the load at tailback this season. Tressel wants a "horse" for the Big Ten season and it's likely the 228-pound Ross.
If you ever wondered how linebacker Rob Reynolds got the nickname "Turbo," his second-half sack against Washington cleared it up.
MORE TIME FOR YOUNG LBs
Look for Mike D'Andrea and Bobby Carpenter to get more and more playing time each week. They are both on the second-team right now, but it's basically a five-man rotation with the linebackers, including Reynolds, A.J. Hawk and Fred Pagac. D'Andrea and Carpenter just seem too talented to keep off the field.
We already mentioned the young tandem at quarterback, but how about the receivers they'll be throwing to for the next four years? Roy Hall and Santonio Holmes are outstanding prospects, and they compliment each other well. Hall has the size and Holmes has the speed. Redshirting them last year is going to pay off.