After most likely receiving a very favorable grade by his advisers, Curtis Samuel decided to pass up a chance to win the Heisman in his hometown of New York City to declare for the 2017 NFL Draft.
Samuel left Ohio State with a national title, a trio of gold pants, the most memorable walk-off touchdown of the Ohio State- Michigan rivalry and Urban Meyer’s most electrifying playmaker since the days of Percy Harvin. The offense stalled when he wasn’t involved, and the offense was borderline unstoppable when the offensive staff found different ways to get him the football. The Brooklyn native racked up 771 yards and 8 touchdowns on only 97 carries, and easily led the team with 74 receptions and 865 receiving yards.
With Kevin Wilson now calling the shots, Ohio State will continue to run the power spread, but they will also look to spread defenses out horizontally by implementing more quick hitters on the perimeter. Samuel’s attributes would have fit perfectly into Wilson’s offense, but the Buckeyes will need to find other playmakers to pick up his role. Let’s see who will replace Samuel’s 74 receptions, 1,636 yards from scrimmage and 15 total touchdowns.
The North Ridgeville, OH product was highly touted out of high school, as he was ranked the No. 2 all-purpose back of the 2016 class. His skill set coming out of high school was reminiscent of Dontre Wilson’s and Curtis Samuel’s, meaning he would eventually take over at the H-back position once those two departed — but it was surprising that he flashed so early in camp that he saw game action in mop-up duty in Ohio State’s opener against Bowling Green.
Our signing day scouting report on McCall described him as this:
Demario McCall has the talent and ability to become what most thought Dontre Wilson would become when he committed to Ohio State. Wilson hasn't lived up to the hype, but McCall has the chance to. McCall is small in stature, standing at 5'9.5 and 171 pounds, but his speed and quickness more than make up for it.
McCall's acceleration is off the charts. He has the ability to see a crease, burst through the hole, make a defender miss and get to top speed very quickly to outrun defenders en route to the end zone.
In his first game action, he displayed all of those attributes. McCall took a swing pass from Joe Burrow 36-yards to the end zone for his first touchdown, and then he added another score on a 16-yard run in which he bounced a carry outside and used his elite speed to leave the would-be-tacklers in the dust.
McCall will start the year as Samuel’s main replacement and get the majority of the snaps out of the H. The sophomore will get a good amount of carries — as he is a natural running back — but we haven’t seen him as a route runner on the perimeter, which opens up room for more receiver types.
One player that looks to be switching to the offensive side of the ball is the uber-talented Eric Glover-Williams, hailing from McKinley High School in Canton, OH. Glover-Williams came to Ohio State as a highly touted cornerback, who was a do-everything player in high school. He is highly regarded as one of the best pure athletes on the team, but struggled to find his way into the lineup on defense.
Throughout the season, Glover-Williams would play on the offensive side of the ball on the scout team, representing the opposing team’s most electric player, such as Clemson’s Deshaun Watson. It’s not surprising to us that EGW is flipping to the offensive side of the ball, as we had this to say in our signing day scouting report on the talented player:
Eric Glover-Williams is electric with the ball in his hands, which is why I do not see him staying in the crowded Buckeye defensive backfield for long. He possesses elite quickness and vision which makes him a threat to take it the distance every time he touches the football. Glover-Williams is a one-cut and go runner, which is a credit to his short area quickness. He makes his cuts at one speed and his acceleration from the second he touches the ball really jumps off the screen. He was a do-everything type player in high school and would be this class’ Jalin Marshall 2.0 if he stays on the offensive side of the ball.
At McKinley, Glover-Williams put up 1,574 yards and 22 touchdowns on 243 carries. He is the most intriguing prospect on this list, as it will be tough to predict his exact usage in Kevin Wilson’s offense. One would believe that he would get more carries than receptions, but it will be something to monitor throughout camp.
Parris Campbell sort of came out of nowhere in 2015, when he started at receiver in the opener against Virginia Tech. His inconsistencies were observed that night, when he dropped an early touchdown pass on a bomb from Cardale Jones. Since then, he has shown that he is an above-average kick returner and although he is inconsistent as a receiver, he can make plays after the catch and get open at times.
With McCall being the natural running back of this group, a player like Campbell can fit into Wilson’s quick hitting system, where they can line Campbell up in the slot and get him touches on bubble screens and quick hitters. He has also shown the ability to take the carry the ball on jet sweeps (coming across the formation from the slot) and gain positive yardage. Campbell is more of your prototypical slot receiver who will give the opposing defense a different look than McCall.
Hill is another player in the mold of Campbell, who is a natural wideout but also possesses certain attributes that make him a pretty good option to replace Samuel’s 74 receptions. As a member of the 2015 class, Hill did everything for Little Rock High in Arkansas. Hill tallied 58 receptions for 1,023 yards and 11 touchdowns, while also rushing for 386 yards and seven more scores.
Our signing day scouting report described him like this:
Add K.J. Hill to the list of speedy playmakers in Coach Meyer's offense. Hill looks like a prototypical slot receiver, standing at 6'0, 188-pounds. He is a fluid, natural runner who possesses the awareness to find holes in zone defenses and run by defenders. Hill is a great route runner, who will do most of his damage from the slot. He has soft hands and great leaping ability which allows him to go up and high point the football in traffic. Hill uses his quickness to make plays after the catch and he will be a star in the screen/quick game.
Judging by Hill’s qualities, he should star in Wilson’s offense. Get the ball to Hill quickly in the slot and watch him make plays. Expect Hill’s 18 receptions in 2016 to double with the departure of Noah Brown on the outside and Samuel in the slot. Judging by his skill set, Hill is more of a slot-type, but expect him to line up on both the outside and the inside next season.
Tyjon Lindsey and J.K. Dobbins
Tyjon Lindsey and J.K. Dobbins are the two incoming recruits of the highly touted 2017 class who will do their best to see early action. Lindsey is more in the Samuel or Wilson mold, while Dobbins could be used a little more in the backfield as a change of pace to the ground-and-pound Mike Weber.
Lindsey is arriving at Ohio State as one of the most electrifying players in the country in the mold of De’Anthony Thomas -- primarily because of their similar stature, speed and open field abilities. Unfortunately, Lindsey tore his meniscus in his final season at Bishop Gorman, so may be a little slow developing as an early contributor. He also is checking in around 160 lbs, which may present a durability problem as a true freshman. But maybe Lindsey can get a few touches a game as a gadget player or as a returner. Lindsey brings too much potential to the offense to redshirt in 2017.
Dobbins, on the other hand, presents more natural running back traits than Lindsey, but he is still electric with the ball in his hands. He is a guy who can be used on outside zone runs and as a change of pace back, such as how Curtis Samuel was used in 2014 with Ezekiel Elliott. Samuel made the most of his 58 carries as a true freshman on a National Championship team, which is something that Dobbins could do with the more physical Weber and Antonio Williams ahead of him on the depth chart.
Overall, Curtis Samuel’s departure leaves a large amount of offensive production to be filled in 2017. But with the amount of elite athletes that have been recruited by Urban Meyer to fit into his system, it may be a more fluid transition than most would believe. It won’t just be one player to replace Samuel’s 171 touches, 1,636 yards and 15 touchdowns — it will be an array of players with a different skill-sets. Per usual, it will be next man up for the Buckeyes.