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OSU Youth Movement Ready To Take Center Stage

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April 21, 2012; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes players sing their alma mater after the spring game at Ohio Stadium. The Scarlet team won the game 20-14. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-US PRESSWIRE
April 21, 2012; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes players sing their alma mater after the spring game at Ohio Stadium. The Scarlet team won the game 20-14. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-US PRESSWIRE

When you look at the Ohio State roster going into this season (in scholarship numbers), 52 of the 81 filled scholarships on the roster are either true freshmen or second-year players.

That stat alone should be very striking because it's not common for good teams to have a roster loaded with younger players.

We all know that Urban Meyer is never afraid to put his freshmen or younger players on the field as long as they can play.

Right now on his depth chart, he has three sophomores starting on offense with two true freshmen — Taylor Decker and Jacoby Boren — in the two-deep on the offensive line. On defense, he has put all sorts of pressure and expectations on sophomore LB Curtis Grant, who has only played spot duty for OSU at times.

In short, his message is that the best will play, and isn't that refreshing from the Jim Tressel days?

We don't know right now how many of the true freshman from this year's top-five class will see the field this season whether it be from day one or by the last game of the year against Michigan.

There are those that we know or expect should play right away, including Noah Spence, Adolphus Washington, Michael Thomas and David Perkins.

But as we also know, there are always those players that come into camp under the radar and jump into the rotation despite not being as hyped as some of his recruiting comrades like Dane Sanzenbacher in 2007 or Johnathan Hankins in 2010.

By the end of the year, we could see someone like Frank Epitropoulos or Jamal Marcus — both three-star prospects on Scout.com — take significant snaps in the rotation.

The point is that we have no idea how these freshmen look until they put on the pads in the fall practices.

And Meyer has said time and time again that he is not a fan of redshirting players, that if you're good enough to play, you're going to play.

We saw that many times with Tressel, but this is a whole new ballgame with Meyer.

How it will look on gameday is something we have to wait just over three months to find out.

This is a year where we know exactly when and where the season will end. It's about getting the wins as well as playing spoiler against teams like Wisconsin and Michigan who will be looking for division championships at the end of the year.

But at the end of the day, it's about the Buckeyes getting this team ready for a potential national championship run in 2013.

That alone is worth playing some of the young guys and getting them out there, especially if they can make an amazing impact as freshman like Ryan Shazier did last year.

Moves like starting Grant from day one is an indication that this is a new era, and that the youth movement in Columbus is very real.

It's the face of change in Buckeye land. And it's time for the youth to shine.