Wednesday, June 23, 2010

FIVE FRESHMEN WHO COULD MAKE SOME NOISE ... THIS SEASON

It seems that no matter how deep the Ohio State roster is each year, there are always at least a handful of true freshmen who make immediate impacts on the football field.

Look at last season for instance, offensive tackle Marcus Hall, defensive tackle John Simon, tailback Jordan Hall, wide receiver Duron Carter and fullbacks Zach Boren and Adam Homan, all made immediate contributions to the team during their first season in Columbus.

In 2008, quarterback Terrelle Pryor, center Michael Brewster and receiver DeVier Posey were the freshmen difference makers for the Buckeyes. And of course, we can't forget about running back Maurice Clarett's sensational play during his freshman campaign in 2002, when Ohio State brought home the national championship.

Now even though the Buckeyes seem to be set at most positions both offensively and defensively, there are a few freshmen who may elude the red-shirt and become instant impacts this season.

Here are five players who could just pull it off ...

CHRISTIAN BRYANT, CB (Glenville/Cleveland)(Pictured above) The starting cornerbacks this season at Ohio State are set, barring injury. Seniors Chimdi Chekwa and Devon Torrence have both positions locked down, but it shouldn't keep the ultra-athletic Bryant from seeing playing time this fall.

Sure, Bryant (5-11, 180) doesn't have the prototypical size you look for in a shutdown cornerback, but he has the athleticism and physical nature to do the trick.

"He is a tremendous athlete and brings another physical presence for us," OSU cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson said of Bryant, after he signed with the Buckeyes in February. "I'll tell you what, he has a lot of pop when he comes up to strike opponents."

Bryant played all over the field during his high school career at Glenville, including quarterback, receiver, running back, defensive back and return specialist. Bryant's freakish abilities helped lead the Tarblooders to a state title appearance this past season.

Not only is Bryant a stellar athlete, he possesses an incredible football IQ, as well.

"We are very excited about this young man," Johnson said. "He brings a wealth of knowledge and does a great job in the classroom learning the game.

"He's a student of the game."

Bryant may not crack into the two-deep at cornerback this season, but he will certainly be on the field somewhere. That's a guarantee.

VERLON REED, ATH. (Marion-Franklin/Columbus) — Much like Bryant, Reed was Mr. Everything during his high school career.

Reed (6-2, 190) played mostly quarterback for Marion-Franklin, but he also got some playing time at wide receiver, defensive back and as a returner.

Relatively unknown amongst national recruiting analysts, Reed has burst onto the scene in recent months, making a name for himself in high school all-star games. After winning the Most Valuable Player award in the Ohio North-South Classic in April, Reed turned around this past Saturday and took home MVP honors in the Big 33 Football Classic.

Reed showed the world that he can do anything on a football field.

The only question is now, where will he play at for the Buckeyes this fall?

"Verlon Reed is someone we're really excited about," OSU safeties coach Paul Haynes said. "He's a local kid from Marion-Franklin. We consider Verlon as an 'athlete.' Verlon can do a lot of different things, as he did for Marion-Franklin.

"He played quarterback for them, played some receiver and also played DB for them. We kind of feel that Verlon can fit any of those spots for us. So we're going to move Verlon around and see where he fits. Wherever he fits is where we're going to keep him.

"We expect a lot of things out of Verlon."

As do I.

JAMES LOUIS, WR (Atlantic/Delray Beach, FL.) — Not only do I see Louis getting some playing time this fall, I think he could end up being the Buckeyes No. 3 wide receiver.

Louis (5-11, 180) has abilities well beyond his years, and could really take advantage of the departure of last year's No.3 receiver, Duron Carter, who transferred on Monday.

Again, a lot like Bryant and Reed, Louis is a pure athlete. The only difference is, he's also a pure wide receiver. He is the total package and could become a major weapon immediately in the Buckeyes offense.

"James is really explosive," OSU assistant head coach/receivers coach Darrell Hazell said. "Has great hands, great quickness, gets off the jam. He's a little further advanced than a lot of receivers that are coming in, in terms of years past. He loves the game and has a great personality.

"He's just a really explosive guy."

The Buckeyes have a solid 1-2 punch in veteran receivers DeVier Posey and Dane Sanzenbacher. But they have lacked that "explosive" element on the edges.

Ladies and gentlemen ... Louis is that missing ingredient.

JOHNATHAN HANKINS, DT (Southeastern/Detroit) — Try telling a 6-foot-3, 315-pound man that he's going to be riding the pine this fall. Yeah, I don't think that's too wise.

Although the Buckeyes have quality on the interior defensive line in sophomore John Simon and senior Dexter Larimore, they still lack that big 300-pound run-plugger in the middle. Hankins definitely fills that role.

"Big Hank is a big guy," OSU defensive coordinator Jim Heacock said of Hankins. "Each year we want to bring in some big guys inside and Johnathan Hankins fits the bill. Hank's a great kid, he's a fun loving guy. But he's an intense guy who has a great passion for the game.

"I'm really looking forward to coaching him and getting him ready to play and be a physical force inside.

"He's a good man, you're going to like him."

SCOTT MCVEY, LB (St. Ignatius/Cleveland) — Now I know it sounds crazy to imagine a freshman coming in and getting on the field at linebacker for Ohio State this season.

But if anyone could, McVey is the man who can do it.

McVey (6-0, 225) has the speed and instincts to play against the run or in coverage. Can you say "star" position? McVey showed great explosiveness as a pass rusher, as well, something that will definitely get you on the field in Columbus.

"You can see the explosion coming off the edge," Johnson said of McVey's pass rushing skills. "He's an exciting player, a no nonsense type of guy."

The only knock on McVey is his size. According to Johnson, that means little to the Buckeyes.

"Brian Rolle is like 5-11," Johnson said. "We'll take those guys who are explosive, mean and can take your head off."

McVey, who Johnson compares to senior outside linebacker Ross Homan, has too much all around game to be on the sidelines for long.

"We definitely want that guy somewhere on the field," Johnson said.

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