One of the things that OSU fans were fired up about when Urban Meyer was hired...well, okay, there wasn't anything we weren't fired up about, amirite...but one of the things we were really fired up about was Meyer's ability to recruit.
And we weren't disappointed, as Meyer hit the ground running from almost the moment he was hired, and hasn't slowed down yet. His 2012 class came in ranked at #5 on the 247Sports Composite ranking, the 2013 class was ranked second, and 2014 is currently ranked second and running neck and neck with current leader Alabama.
So it's not really a surprise to find out that there have been several freshmen that have made their presence known in 2013 in all three phases of the game. Let's take a look at the most prominent guys that have stepped out of the shadows.
Dontre Wilson, RB/WR: Wilson has been the most notable freshmen through the halfway point, as he's been a runner, a receiver, and a special teams standout. The very first time he touched the ball as a Buckeye, Wilson took a quick pass from Braxton Miller for 18 yards, and was an ankle tackle away from a touchdown. The Buckeyes have used Wilson judiciously, yet effectively. As a runner, he's carried the ball 25 times for 186 yards, an average of 7.4 yards per carry., with one TD. He's also been a standout as a receiver, as he is tied for third on the team with 11 catches, amassing another 105 yards. BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE. Wilson has also been the team's #1 kick returner, averaging over 25 yards a return. That's 45 touches for 498 yards, or 11 yards every time Wilson has touched the ball so far this year.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB: The running back position has proven to be the deepest spot on the OSU roster in 2013, as Jordan Hall, Carlos Hyde, and the aforementioned Wilson have all made an impact in one way or another. Yet a lot of people would be surprised to find that the running back with the third most rushing yards on the team so far isn't Wilson, but Elliott. His playing time has been uneven, and he's gotten almost all of his yards in two games against pretty mediocre competition, but still, when given an opportunity he's made the most of it. He had 36 yards on six carries against Buffalo, but against Florida A&M, he ran for 162 yards and two scores in mostly one half of football. On the season, he's run for 201 yards on just 22 carries.
Tyvis Powell, CB: With a secondary that's been hit with injury and inconsistency, Powell has had flashes of being a pretty solid player. He's had his ups and downs, but you can pretty much say that with everyone in the secondary. Powell has moved into the primary nickel job as the season has progressed, and as a redshirt freshman, he is holding his own as the competition has gotten tougher.
Joey Bosa, DE: When the season started, I thought that a guy like Bosa might have a tough time seeing the field regularly. With sophomores Adolphus Washington and Noah Spence penciled in as the two starters, it seemed like he might be a rotational guy, at least for this season. Spence and Washington were (and still are) highly regarded players, but when Washington hurt his foot early in the season, it opened a door that Bosa busted through. He has really come on strong in the last few games, and is now third on the team in tackles for loss, and tied for second in sacks. He played what was probably his best game against Northwestern, registering a sack, a big tackle for loss against Venric Mark, and fell on a fumble in the end zone for a TD on the game's final play.
Cameron Johnston, P: When fall camp began, punter seemed like it could be a black hole of talent. Ben Buchanon had a good 2012 season but graduated, and Johnston seemed like an Australian Hail Mary shot in the dark after the guy OSU hoped would be Buchanon's successor decided to sign with Florida at the last minute. But Johnston has been anything but a Hail Mary, averaging 40 yards a punt, and consistently flipping field position on the opponent. Of his 21 punts, over half (12) have resulted in a fair catch, and two thirds of his punts have pinned opponents inside their own 20 yard line. Pretty impressive stuff for a kid from Down Under.
Through six games, OSU has several strong candidates for the freshman of the year. Who's your pick?