Countdown To THE GAME 2015

Friday, February 13, 2015

“Don’t You Forget About Me” – OSU’s 2014 Redshirts

“As you walk on by
Will you call my name?”
~
Don’t You Forget About Me, Simple Minds

These song lyrics from a classic 1980s song “Don’t You Forget About Me” represent to me what it must be like to football players redshirted at major college football programs. While there is always considerable fanfare when players sign their respective letters of intent, players who redshirt seem to fall by the wayside of fans.

Think about the players who signed with Ohio State in February 2014. While all were accomplished athletes coming out of high school, and coveted highly by Ohio State and other top football programs, several of them were redshirted for various reasons by Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer and his coaching staff. Perhaps some were battling an injury; perhaps others were not deemed ready to contribute during the 2014 season, and the coaches did not want to waste a valuable year of eligibility.

Regardless of the reason, these players are now facing the challenge of a newly-signed crop of recruits coming into Columbus in 2015, while many of the top players who won the national championship return. It will be important for these players to step up over the next few months, during winter conditioning, spring football, and summer workouts, to gain traction on the depth chart.
Below are the various position groups, and some names that may become more prominently known over the coming months to Ohio State fans ~

Quarterback: Stephen Collier. Anyone who listened to me on various Men Of The Scarlet And Gray podcasts this past season will recall how I often speculated if Collier was going to play in 2014. With J.T. Barrett’s injury at the conclusion of the regular season, Collier was elevated on the depth chart. With Cardale Jones’ strong performances at the end of the season, Collier was not needed to play, but contributed tremendously on the scout team during the bowl preparation periods. With two quarterbacks signed, as well as both Barrett and Braxton Miller rehabilitating from injuries, Collier should get ample playing time this spring behind Cardale Jones.

Wide Receiver: Parris Campbell Jr.; Terry McLaurin; Johnnie Dixon. Dixon was an early enrollee last winter, and seemed primed to be a contributor, until redshirted due to tendinitus in October. Campbell and McLaurin redshirted from the onset, due to a logjam at the position. With the departures of Devin Smith and Evan Spencer, the time is ripe for any or all of these players to move up on the depth chart at wide receiver.

Offensive Line: Kyle Trout; Demetrius Knox; Brady Taylor. With six new offensive linemen arriving this summer, with one already on campus in new enrollee Grant Schmidt, none of these players can waste any opportunity to try to move up on the depth chart. The challenge is Ohio State is only losing one starter from its offensive line in Darryl Baldwin, so the test will come in trying to perform well in the eyes of the coaching staff for possible backup time in 2015 as a springboard for the 2016 season.
Defensive Line: Dylan Thompson; Sam Hubbard; Darius Slade. Thompson was redshirted almost immediately, due to a broken kneecap suffered early in the season. Hubbard fluctuated from tight end to linebacker to defensive end; it remains a mystery if he will remain at defensive end this spring. Slade was a signing day addition who had previously committed to Michigan State. With the losses of Noah Spence to transfer, and Michael Bennett, Steve Miller, and Rashad Frazier to graduation, the opportunity to rise up for playing time along the defensive line is there for these defensive linemen.

Linebacker: Kyle Berger. Berger reinjured a knee ligament during the summer of 2014 that wiped out his senior year at Cleveland St. Ignatius in 2013. It is possible that the coaching staff will take a cautious approach to rushing Berger onto the field, lest he sustain another injury.

Defensive Back: Malik Hooker; Marshon Lattimore. Hooker was an athlete designated for the secondary; it is possible that special teams will be where Hooker can make his first impact upon the depth chart. Lattimore was considered for both defense and offense, yet sustained a hamstring injury serious enough to warrant surgery that necessitated his redshirt season.

“As you walk on by Will you call my name?” ~ This question will be on the minds of the players listed up above, as well as by Ohio State fans such as myself, as the 2015 season approaches.

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