In Part 1, I wrote about the various position groups that could be impacted by the 2013 Ohio State football recruiting class. These position groups, by my estimation, would be the least affected.
This post will identify the five position groups that would seem to feel the most impact of the incoming freshmen. With spring football beginning soon, and a few of the freshmen recruits already enrolled, it is entirely possible that some of these new names could be impacting the 2013 Ohio State football season.
5. Tight End: Marcus Baugh was the only tight end signed in the 2013 recruiting class. With returning tight ends Jeff Heuerman and Nick Vannett, as well as redshirt freshman Blake Thomas, it is entirely possible that Baugh can work his way into the rotation for playing time as a true freshman. In Coach Meyer's offense, an athletic tight end is a necessity, and Baugh's recruiting profile suggests that Baugh could be a contributor right away.
4. Defensive Backs: Ohio State signed Eli Apple, Vonn Bell, Cam Burrows, Gareon Conley, Darron Lee, Jayme Thompson, and Christopher Worley. Conley and Lee have been designated as athletes, which means they could wind up at other positions than defensive back. Apple and Burrows have already enrolled at Ohio State, and will participate in spring football for Ohio State.
Ohio State has three players returning as starters in Bradley Roby, Christian Bryant, and C.J. Barnett. Doran Grant is probably the front-runner to win the open cornerback spot opposite Bradley Roby, but it is possible that Eli Apple or Cam Burrows could do enough in spring football to possibly earn playing time.
Other players returning are Adam Griffin, Armani Reeves, Devan Bogard, Corey Brown, Najee Murray, Tyvis Powell, and Ron Tanner. Why would I rank defensive back so high in terms of potential freshmen impact?
Look beyond the 2013 season to the 2014 season. Roby will probably leave Ohio State for the NFL, as he contemplated leaving for the NFL after the 2012 season. Bryant and Barnett will have used up their eligibility. In other words, Ohio State will probably have three new starters in the secondary for the 2014 season. Any of the incoming freshmen, as well as the returners, will compete intensely for playing time, starting in the 2013 season.
3. Wide Receivers: Incoming freshmen include James Clark, Jalin Marshall, and Corey Smith. Players designated as athletes include Gareon Conley and Dontre Wilson, implying it is possible they could wind up playing as wide receivers.
Returning players include Corey "Philly" Brown, Frank Epitropoulos, Chris Fields, Devin Smith, Evan Spencer, and Michael Thomas. While Brown led Ohio State in receptions in 2012, Coach Meyer continually emphasized the need for more speed from the wide receiver group. Look for the freshmen wide receivers to be provided ample opportunities to emerge with playing time in 2013.
2. Defensive Line: Coach Meyer has repeatedly stressed that a deep defensive line is key to Ohio State's long-term success. In the 2013 recruiting class, Ohio State signed defensive linemen Joey Bosa, Michael Hill, Tyquan Lewis, Donovan Munger, Billy Price, and Tracy Sprinkle. Lewis and Sprinkle have already enrolled at Ohio State.
Traditionally, freshmen defensive linemen do not make an immediate impact. With Ohio State losing John Simon, Johnathan Hankins, Garrett Goebel, and Nathan Williams, it will be interesting to see how Ohio State replaces three starters along the defensive line. Returning players include Michael Bennett, Chris Carter, Joel Hale, Steve Miller, J.T. Moore, Se'Von Pittman, Tommy Schutt, Noah Spence, and Adolphus Washington.
It is possible that Bennett, Schutt, Spence, and Washington will begin spring football as the starting defensive line. It is also likely that Ohio State will look to several of its incoming freshmen defensive line to contribute heavily throughout the 2013 season.
1. Linebacker: In my estimation, this position group could face an immediate impact from its incoming freshmen recruits in Trey Johnson and Mike Mitchell. Christopher Worley, as well as Darron Lee, could eventually wind up at linebacker for Ohio State.
Returning players include Curtis Grant, Jamal Marcus, David Perkins, Joshua Perry, Luke Roberts, Ryan Shazier, and Camren Williams. Shazier is the lone returning starter. All of the players contributed in 2012, especially on special teams units.
Even though Johnson and Mitchell will not be participating in spring football, the intense recruiting battle for both players by other schools around the country lead Ohio State fans to believe Johnson and Mitchell will play almost immediately. I could be mistaken, but I believe this is the position group that will feel an almost immediate impact from the 2013 recruiting class.
Spring football for Ohio State will begin next month, and the 2013 season will start at the end of August. Will these highly-touted freshmen impact the 2013 season? It remains to be seen, and we will all have a better idea about any freshmen impact about a year from now.