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Will any of Ohio State’s redshirt freshmen see the field in 2020?

The 2019 recruiting class is heading into year two

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: AUG 31 FAU at Ohio State Photo by Adam Lacy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

“Of the 17 recruits in Ohio State’s 2019 recruiting class, 10 played four games or fewer, making them eligible for redshirts with Wilson, Harrison, Harry Miller, Jameson Williams, Marcus Crowley, Craig Young and Dawand Jones the only seven freshmen who did not redshirt.”

- Colin Hass-Hill, Eleven Warriors

There is no denying that Ohio State’s 2019 recruiting class contained a ton of talent. Seven of the 17 guys in the cycle wound up playing more than four games for the Buckeyes as true freshmen, with a handful making a huge impact in their very first year on campus. While everyone knows about the Garrett Wilson’s and Zach Harrison’s of the world, what about the guys that took a redshirt this past season to preserve future eligibility? How do that group of players factor in moving forward, and how much playing time should they expect to see in 2020?

The biggest name to lookout for among the redshirt freshman this upcoming season will be running back Steele Chambers. The 6-foot-2, 215 pound RB was a four-star recruit out of high school, and was not going to see the field much in 2019 with bell cow J.K. Dobbins at the helm. After playing in three games at running back and once on special teams as a freshman, amassing 135 yards on 19 carries with one touchdown, Chambers elected to don the redshirt.

With Dobbins’ departure to the NFL, Ohio State’s RB room provides a ton of opportunity to see the field. While Master Teague is the favorite to earn the starting job, that is in no way set in stone, and could change depending on how the offseason plays out. Marcus Crowley, who was ahead of Chambers on the depth chart last season, is still currently injured, and strength coach Mickey Marotti said he is unsure if Crowley will practice at all this spring. Thus, the door is wide open for Chambers to earn significant playing time in a rotation with Teague and potentially even start with a really strong camp.

A few other redshirt freshman will have a chance to see the field in 2020, although most would likely be in a backup role. Offensive lineman Enokk Vimahi has postponed his two-year mission trip, which makes him available to provide depth at guard. Defensive ends Cade Stover and Noah Potter will likely have a hard time cracking into an incredibly deep position group, even with the exit of Chase Young, but could get some opportunities in mop-up duty. Safety Ronnie Hickman will likely get a chance to compete for the backup safety job behind Josh Proctor, but will have to remain healthy coming off a torn ACL.

“If Ohio State lists [Cameron Martinez’s] position as “athlete” in its official release on National Signing Day next week, he will join a select list. Since 2001, 10 players have had that distinction, a group that has produced some interesting results: Troy Smith, Verlon Reed, Adam Griffin, Dontre Wilson, Darron Lee, Gareon Conley, Malik Harrison, Brendon White, Alex Williams and Craig Young.”

- Marcus Hartman, Dayton Daily News

Ryan Day brought Kerry Coombs back to Columbus to do two things: help replicate the Buckeyes’ suffocating defense from this past season, and bring in some of the best defensive back recruits from around the country. Just a few short weeks into his tenure, he has already completed the latter, as four-star Michigan native Cameron Martinez affirmed his commitment to Ohio State on Tuesday.

While Martinez is listed as an athlete, most believe he will play defensive back in Columbus. It will be interesting to see if Martinez keeps that designation when everything becomes official on National Signing Day, but if he does move forward listed as an athlete, he will join a select group of players — including three NFL Draft picks and six collegiate starters out of the 10 guys to do so at Ohio State.

Obviously the most notable of former athlete recruits to join the Buckeyes was Troy Smith, who won the Heisman Trophy in 2006 and went on to be drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in 2007. Darron Lee and Gareon Conley were the two others to join Smith as NFL Draft picks, both of whom were members of Ohio State’s most recent National Championship team. Malik Harrison looks to be the next to put his name on that list, as the linebacker led OSU with 75 tackles this season and will surely hear his name called sometime in this year’s NFL Draft.

Some did not pan out, as guys like Verlon Reed, Brendon White and Alex Williams have since transferred. However, of the seven guys recruited as athletes that stuck with Ohio State, four of them will have been NFL Draft picks. Martinez will look to be the next athlete in line to make a big impact with the Buckeyes, with ample opportunities for him to compete at defensive back moving forward if that is indeed where he ends up.

“Duane Washington, Jr., a guard on the OSU men’s basketball team, is Derek Fisher’s nephew. Fisher was one of [Kobe] Bryant’s longtime teammates and while the two had success on the court, their families often bonded off of it.”

- Dan Pearlman, NBC4

The death of Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash on Sunday stunned the entire world. An icon to so many in both the sports world and around the globe in general, there has been no shortage of loving remembrances for the basketball legend. Ohio State guard Duane Washington Jr. had a special connection to Bryant, as his uncle Derek Fisher was a longtime teammate of his.

“I remember having game night’s at my uncle’s crib, and he [Bryant] would come over with Vanessa and stuff like that,” said Washington. “We had game nights all the time. We played Sorry all the time.”

Washington said he would travel to watch Fisher and Bryant play as much as possible. Bryant would notice how tall Washington was getting as he was growing up, and eventually the OSU guard started to refer to him as “Uncle Kobe.” He found out the news of Bryant’s passing just before the Buckeyes were scheduled to play against Northwestern, but never wavered in his desire to play in the game.

“If I had the chance to talk to him, he’d be like, ‘Alright, we got to lock in’. This is for your team. They need you out there. I need them out there. I can’t let them down, so he wouldn’t have wanted to let them down at all,” said Washington.

The sophomore said he will never forget Bryant, both for what he has done for the sport of basketball and beyond.

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