"McMillian is the future at middle linebacker for the Buckeyes, and the future might be now."
- Kevin Ryan, 247Sports
When it comes to picking players for a freshman All-American team, sometimes it's hard to predict who will break out as a true freshman and shine among even the veteran players on a team. The guys on this list make it easier, including three Ohio State players. Wide receiver Johnnie Dixon, linebacker Raekwon McMillan, and running back Curtis Samuel all made the cut for the true freshman All-American watch list.
For Dixon, the article cites Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer as calling him a "grown man". For McMillan, the young linebacker is already pushing Curtis Grant for that spot in the middle, and many wouldn't be surprised to see him overtake it eventually, as the the article states McMillan is the future at middle linebacker, but that future might be now.
As for Samuel, he got high praise from Meyer. "Every time, I've got to be careful, because I do this, but I love that kid and man, oh man, does he go hard. He's talented and he will play this year." What a vote of confidence in the youngster. With Ezekiel Elliott nursing a a fractured wrist, this might be the perfect time for Samuel to step up.
"In a weird way, bro, he's like Yoda. It's anything he says. If he told me to run through a wall because it would make me a better player, I'd say, ‘OK, which wall?'"
- Shawn Lauvao on LeCharles Bentley, via Robert Mays, Grantland
LeCharles Bentley is gaining attention from offensive linemen for his break away from traditional approaches to teaching lineman how to play their position. Bentley believes it's a very "black-and-white" approach on teaching young linemen and beyond, and he wants to change that for the better, including in the NFL.
The former Ohio State standout has been mentoring offensive linemen to improve their games and it has paid off greatly for the athletes willing to be broken down from what they know. Alex Boone seemed as if he wasn't going to totally pan out in the NFL until Bentley took him in. Two years later, Boone was an NFL starter. Another year went by, and Boone was now one of the best guards in the NFL.
Basically, Bentley is to linemen what George Whitfield is to quarterbacks. I strongly recommend you take a look at this article on Grantland, it's very interesting to see what Bentley has been up to over the past few years.
"Wisconsin is a lot like the 2013-14 Miami Heat: not necessarily the best team overall, but the one with the clearest path to the title game."
- Ed Feng, Grantland
Ed Feng of Grantland believes Wisconsin may be the sleeper pick in the Big Ten this season, and has some interesting stats to try and back that up. You might worry that the loss of their starters on defense or the questions at quarterback (including losing close games in the final minutes) might deter from the Badgers having a legitimate shot at a title, but Feng's data reveals that failing to win close games one year doesn't mean a team will fail in the same situations moving forward, while an immensely favorable schedule should help Wisconsin move past last season.
I actually sort of agreed with Feng's takes (other than the Badgers winning the B1G), though I wouldn't say anything is concrete about their chances (or any other team's, for that matter). But looking at everything available, there's a chance the Badgers could be a serious threat in the West division of the Big Ten. If they make it to the title game, anything is possible.
"I was being mentally weak. I didn't embrace everything the way I should have. I went to a bad place, and I feel like I'm matured now. I was very down, but I have a great family. They picked me up and kept me going."
- Jalin Marshall, via Bill Rabinowitz, The Columbus Dispatch
Ohio State's Jalin Marshall used to be a quarterback during his high school days but was recruited as a wide receiver because of his athleticism and ability to run routes. The transition was tough on Marshall, apparently, as you can see above in the quote.
Now, Marshall has fully embraced his role on the team, in the same position competing with Dontre Wilson. Marshall has impressed, and since he's finally healthy, things might fall into place for him. Ohio State wide receivers coach Zach Smith has said Marshall will see the field this fall and will have the ball in his hands as well. It will be up to Marshall to determine how much time he's on the field, and how many times he'll touch the ball.
I for one am looking forward to a promising season from Marshall after coming back from multiple injuries that kept him on the sidelines.
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