Ohio State: 5 On-Field Impacts The 2017 Class Will Make Next Season

Nov 5, 2016; Columbus, OH, USA; A general view of the back of an Ohio State helmet displaying a sticker honoring Nebraska Cornhuskers punter Sam Foltz (27) before the game at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 5, 2016; Columbus, OH, USA; A general view of the back of an Ohio State helmet displaying a sticker honoring Nebraska Cornhuskers punter Sam Foltz (27) before the game at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports /

Ohio State and Urban Meyer’s 2017 class is signed, sealed and delivered. Here’s how this highly thought of recruiting class will affect the Buckeyes on the field in 2017.

With National Signing Day in the books, Ohio State has settled in as the second best recruiting class in the nation. After missing out on a few key targets, the latest group of incoming Buckeyes has a handful of players that will make an immediate impact on the field this fall

1. Two day one “starters” in the secondary

Write it down now. Jeffrey Odukah and Shaun Wade will be “starters” in the secondary for the opener. There’s a reason these guys were the top rated safety and corner, respectively, in the class of 2017. With another season of high turnover in the defensive backfield because of the insane amount of talent that has come through Columbus, these two are essential to the success of the Silver Bullets. There are no shortage of spots up for grabs, so it’s not a reach to say these two will be one of Urban Meyer’s “co-starter” types on the depth chart.

Don’t overlook the rare JUCO signee in Kendall Sheffield. The former Alabama commit will be an incoming junior and has real, actual game experience, something the aforementioned freshman and many current Buckeyes cannot say. That level of experience and maturity is a welcome addition to a backfield in flux. Don’t be surprised if he joins the fray immediately.

2. It’s put up or shut up time for The Slobs

I agree with much of the criticism of the offensive line in the second half of the year. Remington Award winner Pat Elflein and Billy Price were absoltue studs, but there were question marks pretty much across the rest of the line. Jamarco Jones flashed, but wasn’t elite. Michael Jordan was impressive for a freshman, but ascended due to a lack of depth. Isaiah Prince was at times a swinging door at right tackle. Enter Wyatt Davis and Josh Myers.

Multiple transfers aside, Kevin Wilson and Greg Studrawa won’t go through this off-season like it’s business as usual. A new scheme and a new head honcho on the offensive side of the ball would normally lend itself to a shake up of the depth chart. But make no mistake, there are wholesale changes not just in personnel, but also in attitude. Urban Meyer seems to think Myers could potentially start this fall. After starting true freshman Michael Jordan last year, it’s pretty clear whoever earns it will start with spots at right guard and right tackle up for grabs.

3. Ditto for the wide receivers

Say what you will about Zach Smith the recruiter, but last year’s group was a huge let down. Aside from H-Back Curtis Samuel, there wasn’t even a wide receiver that made an impact outside of Noah Brown‘s big game against Oklahoma. The group looked at times unable to understand route running and how to get open, not just run fast in a straight line. Once Big Ten play started, the group was simply outplayed by nearly every secondary they faced.

Just like with the offensive line, the arrival of Kevin Wilson means every job is up for grabs. Trevon Grimes is sure to compete for one of the spots at the top of the depth chart there right away. At 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, Grimes is a huge target for J.T. Barrett, one that he missed after Michael Thomas left for the NFL. Dontre Wilson, K.J. Hill, Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin, Binjimen Victor, Johnnie Dixon, and Austin Mack, and Alex Stump are in a multi-way contest to get their chance. None of those guys should keep Grimes away from the field for very long.

4. Demario McCall is the new Curtis Samuel

For now, it’s just on the depth chart. We just covered the upheaval at wide receiver, so why not put a player of similar skill in the H-Back type role that the Buckeye offense needs to be successful? By bringing in another 4-star back in J.K. Dobbins, it allows Demario McCall to not be cemented as the back up to Mike Weber and get on the field in positions where his incredible athleticism can be put to use.

Dobbins and returning running back Antonio Williams can fill in behind workhorse Mike Weber. In fact, Kevin Wilson’s arrival should mean more consistent carries for Mike Weber, who enjoyed one of the best seasons on the ground by any freshman in Ohio State history. McCall himself is not built like the other backs on the roster. He is smaller and more slight. Despite reports that he has put on weight and muscle, he isn’t Mike Weber strong. But put him in the slot and his speed and quickness can carve up a defense. It will be interesting to see if he can take a hold of that spot and drive the offense forward.

5. The single best member of the incoming recruiting class is…Kevin Wilson

It’s pushing it a bit to say Kevin Wilson is part of the 2017 recruiting class, but oh well. Ed Warinner and Tim Beck were allowed to leave (cough cough fired, cough cough). Unfairly or not, the source of most observers frustration was with the offensive brain trust that was supposed to allow Urban Meyer to focus on bigger picture coaching decisions. After a 2017 that ended with calls to drop J.T. Barrett from the depth chart and to make wholesale changes, Urban Meyer opted to go with the latter and find a new offensive coordinator.

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Fans have every reasons to ask about Kevin Wilson’s exit from Indiana. The allegations against him for mistreatment of injured players is not a small matter. But what part of you thinks Urban Meyer and AD Gene Smith didn’t make 100 percent sure there was nothing to worry about in bringing Wilson in to jump start the offense? His Indiana teams have produced points and NFL talent, especially at running back. Jordan Howard and Tevin Coleman are true lead backs in the NFL and Coleman is a major piece for the Super Bowl bound Atlanta Falcons. His offenses have given Ohio State’s defense fits the last few seasons. So if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Right?

Wilson is credited as the architect of the exact offense Urban Meyer wants to run. He has always been considered a true offensive innovator and play caller, the same characteristics that an unheralded coordinator from Iowa State had when he broke onto the national scene as the Ohio State offensive coordinator.

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Wilson could be the best thing for J.T. Barrett since Tom Herman was on campus. That alone makes Wilson a key piece of this year’s recruiting class.