In a rather unexpected move for a team in pursuit of a national title, Ohio State played five true freshmen in the opener against Northern Illinois. What is interesting about this move is that it shows that they will most likely not be red-shirted for the season, not bad for a team that supposedly had a luke-warm recruiting season.
Most fans were not surprised to see Chris Wells take the field. Heck ... if he had not there would have been rioting (more than usual) on Indianola. But I am not sure if people were expecting see Dexter Larimore or Kurt Coleman out there.
Coleman, recruited out of Northmont High School in Clayton, Ohio, enrolled in Spring Quarter classes at Ohio State and attended Spring practice. He has shown great talent, presence, and maturity in practice. He intercepted one pass, broke up two others, and made two tackles in the jersey scrimmage.
Larimore spent the Spring winning a national high school wrestling tournament and first team All-American honors. Larimore’s recruiting started a bit slow, but within a couple of weeks of senior season of high school football it reached fever pitch, resulting in offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Ball State, and Notre Dame. He also received offers from every major wrestling program in the country. Ultimately it was the atmosphere at Ohio State that swayed him. I must admit that of all the freshman that saw time on Saturday, I was most surprised to see Larimore. He plays defensive tackle with the great leverage of a championship wrestler, like Pitcock and Tim Anderson, and he should be a lot of fun to watch over the coming years.
Ray Small’s play time was no surprise at all. He has gamebreaking, Ted Ginn-like speed and the Buckeyes will probably only have him for three years. If the Buckeye’s staff red-shirted him, we would only get to see him on the field for two. This kid was nationally ranked as a wide receiver and turned down offers at Michigan State, USC, Iowa, and Tennessee to com play at Ohio State. I dream of seeing Small and Ginn running deep routes on the field at the same time. Who do you double? If you sell out on these two forty yards down field, what is open underneath them?
Ross Homan’s position on the depth chart is a surprise to exactly no one that has given any attention to the Buckeye’s practice. In fact there was a real debate as to whether or not he may win a starting slot. After last week’s performance, that debate may live on.
In any case, it is pretty clear that maybe last year’s recruiting class might be pretty important this year, as one writer at Swerb’s predicted this spring.