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For Ohio State’s Master Teague, special teams play could lead to more backfield reps

With a crowded backfield, the freshman will first need to earn the trust of his coaches on the special teams unit.

NCAA Football: Ohio State Spring Game Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

“But the biggest reason Teague might end up with a chance to show what can do in the backfield stems from the program’s love of special teams.”

Ryan Ginn, Land of 10

While it is highly unlikely that running back Master Teague is going to wrestle many carries away from J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber this year, the freshman could lay the groundwork for a bigger role in Columbus in the coming years with a strong performance on the special teams unit. Head coach Urban Meyer likes to use the special teams unit as a proving ground for young players, and if they excel on the unit, those young players often find themselves with a higher level of trust among the coaching staff.

In just a short time in Columbus, Teague has already made some noise. Not only did Teague rush for 77 yards on 15 carries in the spring game, but he moved up the depth chart at running back a few weeks ago when it was announced that third-string running back Antonio Williams was transferring to North Carolina.

Let’s not forget, just a few years ago a highly-touted freshman running back was making plays on special teams for Ohio State while there was a bit of a logjam at running back. Ezekiel Elliott was a part of the special teams unit and laying big hits on opponents before starting at running back for the Buckeyes. Even though it might be unrealistic to expect Teague to match Elliott, the young running back is certainly on the right path.

Last Thursday, former Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier provided one of the most memorable moments of the 2018 NFL Draft, when he was able to walk to the podium and announce the first round pick for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now the Steelers have announced they are converting Shazier’s 2018 salary into a signing bonus, meaning that instead of having to wait until the end of the 2018 season to receive his whole salary, his salary is available to him immediately.

The Steelers already announced at the NFL Draft Combine in February that Shazier wouldn’t play in 2018, and on Wednesday the Steelers placed Shazier on the reserve/physically unable to perform list. It’s hard to imagine Shazier ever taking the field again in the NFL, after the traumatic neck injury he suffered against Cincinnati in early December, but the linebacker maintains that he still wants to play football. While there may be plenty of doubters out there on whether Shazier will ever play football again, if there is anyone who can overcome those odds, it’s the former Ohio State linebacker.

“We’re not going to be shy about saying who should be taking the biggest swings in the biggest moments. It should be Nic Szerszen. If they want to put three, four, or five guys in front of Szerszen, we’re still going to take those odds.”

Ohio State men’s volleyball coach Pete Hanson via Bill Rabinowitz, The Columbus Dispatch

Tonight Ohio State’s men’s volleyball team will play top-seeded Long Beach State with a trip to the national title game on the line. If Ohio State wants to pull the upset, and keep their dream alive for a third straight national championship, the Buckeyes are going to need another big effort out of Nicolas Szerszen.

Not only was the senior from France named 2016 national player of the year, but Szerszen is Ohio State’s all-time leader in kills, points, service aces, and aces per set. Szerszen always seems to play his best volleyball when Ohio State needs him the most. The Buckeyes have especially needed Szerszen’s talents this year, after Ohio State lost a big portion of their core from their last two national championship teams.

Even if Ohio State isn’t able to bring home a third straight national title, Szerszen’s legacy has already been cemented as one of the best volleyball players in school history. If Szerszen and the Buckeyes are able to get by Long Beach State in tonight’s first national semifinal in Los Angeles, they’ll move on to face the winner of the night’s second semifinal between UCLA and BYU on Saturday night.

After posting a 23-10 record this year, Shiori Fukuda was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year, becoming the sixth Ohio State women’s tennis player to earn the honor. Fukuda joins 2014 winner Gabriella De Santis and 2016 winner Francesca Di Lorenzo as recent Buckeyes to win the award.

Along with her Freshman of the Year honor, Fukada was also a unanimous All-Big Ten selection, an honor that was also earned by Anna Sanford. This marked the fourth straight year in which Sanford earned All-Big Ten honors, becoming just the third Buckeye to be named All-Big Ten in each of her four years with the school.

The third Buckeye to be honored by the Big Ten was Olivia Sneed, who was the recipient of the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award for Ohio State. The senior posted a 23-11 record this year, and was 8-3 in Big Ten play.

Ohio State’s women’s tennis team finished the season ranked No. 28, and earned a bid to the NCAA team championship for the fifth consecutive year. The Buckeyes will take on Clemson in Nashville on May 11, with the winner moving on to take on the winner of the matchup between top-seeded Vanderbilt and Alabama State.