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Redshirt Tracker: What freshman have played this season for Ohio State?

Take a look at who has played so far for the Buckeyes, and how the coaches are using the new redshirt rule.

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Ohio State Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

In case you missed it over the offseason, the NCAA changed their redshirt rules to allow football players to participate in up to four games without burning their ability to redshirt for a season. Players still have five years to play four, but now student athletes can also play in a third of a regular season and still qualify for a redshirt.

There are a number of ways that Ohio State’s coaching staff can strategically use this rule change to both benefit individual players and their development as well as the team as whole. Some ways a team might use the rule change include:

  • Motivate redshirting players
  • Manage injuries
  • Allow slower-developing freshmen to play later in the season
  • Allow redshirting players actual game experience against easier opponents

The Buckeye coaches have said that they have had a lot of internal discussion about how to approach the rule change, and that they will use the new flexibility on a case-by-case basis. After just two games we don’t have a great sense of what the Ohio State coaches’ redshirting strategy for each player is just yet, but we’ll keep track of this throughout the season to try and get a better idea.

Here’s who has played so far:

Participation Post-Rutgers

Player Position Oregon State Rutgers Total
Player Position Oregon State Rutgers Total
Nick Petit-Frere OL 1 1 2
Taron Vincent DT 1 1 2
Tyreke Johnson DB 0 0 0
Jaelen Gill HB 0 1 1
Tyreke Smith DE 1 0 1
Jeremy Ruckert TE 1 1 2
Teradja Mitchell LB 1 0 1
Tommy Togiai DT 1 1 2
Matthew Jones OL 0 0 0
Josh Proctor DB 1 1 2
Kamryn Babb WR 0 0 0
Brian Snead RB 1 1 2
Tyler Friday DE 1 1 2
Max Wray OL 0 0 0
L'Christian Smith WR 0 0 0
Dallas Gant LB 1 1 2
Antwuan Jackson Jr. DT 1 0 1
K'Vaugh Pope LB 1 1 2
Javontae Jean-Baptiste DE 1 0 1
Sevyn Blanks CB 0 0 0
Master Teague RB 1 1 2
Cameron Brown DB 1 0 1
Matt Baldwin QB 0 0 0
Chris Olave WR 1 1 2
Alex Williams DE 1 0 1
Marcus Hooker S 0 0 0

A few things I’ve noticed so far:

  • Jaelen Gill, the blue chip H-Back, got his first game action this week against Rutgers. He was the only freshman to get his first playing time against Rutgers after not playing in Week 1.
  • Tyreke Johnson (DB), Matthew Jones (OL), Kamryn Babb (WR), Max Wray (OL), L’Christian Smith (WR), Sevyn Blanks (DB), Matthew Baldwin (QB), and Marcus Hooker (DB) are the eight players who have not yet played.
  • Of those eight, I think it’s notable that two offensive linemen haven’t played. It makes sense that offensive linemen would be redshirted if possible, because they often need to either gain or lose weight while retaining athleticism and strength to compete at the college level. SB Nation’s Bud Elliott has a good article on this. It makes sense that Petit-Frere would get game time early, because he was the top overall offensive tackle recruit, and he could push for a starting spot by the end of the year.
  • A few of those eight are recovering from injuries, including Kamryn Babb and Matthew Baldwin.
  • I’m a little surprised Tyreke Johnson hasn’t played yet. Considering he was a composite five-star, I thought he might push for a starting job. But he might also be a candidate to get his four games at the end of the season after he has more time to learn the defensive schemes. Of the five defensive backs Ohio State signed, only safety Josh Proctor has played in both games.
  • It’s interesting that so many freshmen have played in both easy games so far this year. Of the 26, 11 have played in both games. I’d guess fewer will travel and play this week against TCU, so we might learn more about whether the coaching staff is using the new rule to give playtime against cupcake opponents the following week against Tulane.