DALLAS — Ohio State is a place with no shortage of talent, and December practices illustrate the point.
Not only do freshmen have more experience by that point, but there’s also more opportunity. With Ohio State starters having played a full season worth of games, the coaching staff often tries to limit their wear and tear and give more reps to younger players.
Over the past couple weeks, players and coaches have spoken about which young players have impressed during bowl practices. What follows are thoughts from people in the program about which young Buckeyes have caught their eye in December.
Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano
“I think defensively two guys in the secondary who have played some for us but gotten a lot of defensive secondary reps are Jeffrey Okudah and Isaiah Pryor. I think those guys have really performed well. They’ve taken advantage of all these reps. At the linebacker position I think Baron Browning has really stepped up. Pete Werner is another guy who has really taken advantage of his reps. And then in the front, Chase [Young] has done great all year. But this was an opportunity to get more quality reps. I’m excited. If you look at these young guys, they’re as good as anyone in the country at their position. This has been a huge development period for them.”
Ohio State offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson
“In time, Tate [Martell] became a sponge and started absorbing. The highly-touted quarterback and all the accolades that he comes in with kind of get shoved aside. He really took off midpoint of this season and he used to play tailback for us and receiver, and he’s been a phenomenal quarterback.
“Based on the look, there were weeks we thought we needed him at tailback and he went and played tailback because he’s a nice athlete. But for a freshman and as a quarterback, he has grown a lot. He’s still young but he has grown up being a good teammate. That’s hard at quarterback because at quarterback, you’re always ‘the guy.’ And because of that, he’s earned a lot of respect from a lot of peers on this team. And he sets up well.”
Ohio State DE Nick Bosa
“I think everybody on the D-line, really. Coop [Jonathon Cooper] is doing real well. Chase and Haskell [Garrett]. Even Jerron Cage, not many people know about him. He’s been on scout team all year and now he’s starting to get some reps on inside drill and stuff. They’re all super talented in their own ways. They just have to learn how to use it efficiently.”
Ohio State DE Jalyn Holmes
“Thayer Munford, Jeff Okudah, Chase Young, Jonathon Cooper — those four. They’re just bringing their games to the next level. You can really see them coming into their own, especially Jeff. I mentioned that the last couple months. You can tell he’s getting more comfortable and loose. That’s the main thing, they’ve all just been getting loose and you can finally tell they’ve caught the speed of the game.”
Ohio State DE Sam Hubbard
“Thayer Munford is going to be special. He’s an awesome player already as a true freshman. He’s going to play very soon and play for a long time. I’ve been impressed with him since camp. He’s a talented player and a great kid. All the hype he’s getting in bowl season, I’m wondering why it took so long.
“Jaylen Harris, he’s been doing really well. He’s a very talented receiver. I like watching him a lot. He’s been coming on a lot since the middle of the season when he learned how to shake that freshman fatigue.
“Tate Martell has been doing an awesome job as our scout team quarterback. Every day he brings his all to try to give us a look. He’s having fun out there. He just loves the game of football. Sometimes he outruns us or does some crazy stuff that makes you say wow.
“Ever since Illinois, [Jeffrey Okudah] had a big game on special teams and that boosted his confidence. Now he’s playing at corner and he’s doing very well. He’s going to be a great player.”
Ohio State LB Jerome Baker
“It’s fun seeing Malik Harrison out there. To me he’s a young guy even though he’s only a year younger than me. I look out there now and most times he’s out there with me. We’re out there in nickel together. Just seeing him grow into the player he’s become has been fun to watch. He’s my roommate so it’s kind of cool to talk ball with him and see him grow up.”
Ohio State WR K.J. Hill
“Well you’ve seen Demario [McCall], so you know he can make a jump. Him, Jaylen Harris. Quarterback-wise, Tate is coming on a lot.”
Ohio State S Jordan Fuller
“Jeff Okudah, Baron Browning, Pete Werner, Amir Riep, Marcus Williamson, a lot of guys are just coming on like at the end of the season and just really been special. I’m excited to see what their journeys hold.”