Ohio State freshman receiver Jalin Marshall caught a pass from Braxton Miller while falling out of the back of the end zone, drawing a roar from the scarlet-clad offense during a controlled scrimmage Wednesday morning.
The former Middletown star also made a nifty grab for another TD just a few snaps later, fighting his way across the goal line.
Coach Urban Meyer raved the day before about freshman running back Dontre Wilson, saying the Buckeyes will have to find room on the offense for the speedster from Texas. But Wilson isn’t the only newcomer making a bid for playing time.
During the lone preseason practice open to the media in its entirety, Wilson and Marshall looked like budding stars. Defensive end Joey Bosa notched a sack, and running back Ezekiel Elliott showed some burst while returning kicks.
Freshmen are off limits for interviews for now, but OSU safety Christian Bryant praised Wilson and Marshall, albeit somewhat grudgingly. You’ll probably never hear defenders going overboard on offensive players, especially freshmen, during hyper-intense camp competition.
“Dontre is a special player. I feel like he has a lot of attributes to bring to the team,” Bryant said. “One of those is being elusive. But we’ll see later what he’s like in camp.
“Jalin is one of those strong, fast guys also. He can produce at any position — even special teams. But like I said, we’ll see later on in camp.”
Co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers showed less restraint when asked about Wilson, who is creating perhaps the most buzz of any player in camp.
“I think he’s a skilled athlete, and he’s a football player,” Withers said. “You get some guys who are real fast, and they don’t like being in that fray a lot. I think he’s one of those guys who doesn’t mind the tackling, doesn’t mind taking the hit. I think he’s a fearless runner. If you’re that and can run that fast, you can do a lot of damage.”
Sophomore defensive end Adolphus Washington looked unblockable at times while going against the second unit. OSU lost its entire starting D-line, including stalwarts John Simon and Johnathan Hankins, but the front four looks stacked again with Washington and Noah Spence at the ends and Michael Bennett (a Centerville product) and either Tommy Schutt or Joel Hale at DT.
“Adolphus Washington is an animal — him and Noah and Mike,” said senior safety C.J. Barnett, a Northmont grad. “I know we lose Johnny and Big Hank and all of them, but it’s Ohio State. It’s next up. We’re not really worried about who’s gone. It’s who’s next?”
Illegal hit: The new targeting rule, which has coaches apprehensive, surfaced in the controlled scrimmage.
Freshman safety Chris Worley was flagged for an above-the-shoulder hit over the middle. If that occurs during a game this year, Worley would be ejected.
“I’ll tell you what this does — and I really believe it — is defensive coaches have to make sure they’ve got two and three deep because it will affect you at some point during the season,” said Withers, who also coaches safeties.
“What we always talk about in our secondary room is, a lot of times, that’s where it comes from — in the back end with those bang-bang plays. We’ve got to make sure we’ve got depth back there.”
But despite the harsh consequences, Withers said: “Here’s what I’m not going to do — I’m not going to over-coach. I’m not going to (eliminate) being aggressive because that’s what defense is.”
Delany weighs in: Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany visited OSU’s practice and addressed the Buckeyes’ sanctions under coach Jim Tressel and the future of the NCAA.
“Ohio State not only has stabilized, but is on a strong trajectory forward,” he said. “The case was an unfortunate case. People made some mistakes. But I was always confident in the leadership at the institution. (They) did everything right. They reported what they knew when they knew it.
“They’ve got a new coach in coach Meyer. He’s been successful everywhere he’s been. They have powerful leadership there.”
The big five conferences have discussed forming their own division and possibly distancing themselves from the beleaguered NCAA. Delany expects some movement but doesn’t believe the NCAA tournament will be touched, which is good news for fans outside the power leagues.
“The NCAA tournament is in great shape. I think it’s one of the best events in the world, and I think it will stay as it is,” he said. “I think there will be some adjustment within the NCAA. I’d be shocked if there wasn’t. How much actually gets reconfigured, I’m not 100 percent sure. That will take conversation with our colleagues. But I don’t think anybody is looking to do anything negative to the NCAA tournament.”