Speaking with reporters Wednesday night, true freshman cornerback Denzel Burke was asked about Ohio State’s freshman class.
“My freshman teammates, just wait,” he said. “They’re gonna make a name for themselves soon. Soon. You’ll see.”
A couple of them have already done that, Burke being one. He became the first true freshman cornerback to start the season opener for the Buckeyes in about four decades and has been an absolute surprise to those on the outside.
On the inside, he has been too consistent to be a surprise.
He’s not the only true freshman that could be in the starting lineup for the Buckeyes this weekend when they host Akron, however.
Running back TreVeyon Henderson set OSU’s freshman single-game rushing record with 277 yards last week against Tulsa. He rushed for 173 yards in the third quarter alone.
He started that game for the Buckeyes. That doesn’t mean he is now the full-time starter but you can expect his involvement in the offense to continue to increase.
“I think he certainly is going to have a bigger role,” Buckeye head coach Ryan Day said on Tuesday. “Now, whether it’s a starter or not, we’ll kind of take it week to week, but he deserves an opportunity to play a lot because you can see his big play ability. But Miyan [Williams] started in the first game, and then Tre certainly flashed in this game. So, we’ll see, he’s still young. Miyan’s still young. Master [Teague] is still practicing hard. So we’ll kind of figure it out as the week goes on.”
Of players who are averaging at least nine rushing attempts per game, Henderson is leading the nation in yards per carry (9.1), and his 115.3 yards rushing per game is fourth in the Big Ten and 13th nationally.
His last eight carries have gained 48, 7, 1, 54, 3, 52, 3, and 31 yards, respectively.
No player in the nation has more carries of 30 (4), 40 (3), or 50 (2) yards than Henderson this season.
And he’s still getting better.
“He’s got a lot to grow, he’s got a lot to improve on,” Day said. “I mean, you can see his ability level, but there’s a lot of things just in terms of executing protection, executing his reads and his vision, and sometimes making sure that he’s running through contact and finishing runs. But there was a lot of good things on there. But he’s very, very young. He didn’t play last year at all in high school. So the last time he played was his junior year in high school. So to come out and flash like that has been exciting. But at the same time he’s still building still growing, and still has a long way to go.”
Speaking of freshmen who have a long way to go, quarterback Quinn Ewers arrived at Ohio State last month and brought with him some immense expectations.
Those expectations were mostly going to be put on hold for a year, but it’s hard for some folks to remain patient when you’re talking about the highest-rated quarterback signee in Ohio State history.
But Ryan Day is remaining realistic about what Ewers is able to do this season and is only putting on him what he can handle.
“I think he would tell you that it’s it’s been hard for him, kind of jumping into this thing during the preseason and then being out for a little bit of a stretch,” Day said. “And so we’re trying to get him as much information as we can. But there’s a lot of catching up to be done there. And he’s trying, he’s working at it. But once we get in the season, it’s very, very difficult to get guys to catch up and get them the reps because we need to get the guys reps who are gonna play in the game.”
The Buckeyes are expected to get freshman Kyle McCord some action in Saturday’s game, as well as redshirt freshman Jack Miller. The two of them competed during camp — first with CJ Stroud for the starting job, then with each other for the backup spot. Day hasn’t stated who the backup actually is, but his hand will be tipped when the Buckeyes play the Zips this weekend.
Ewers getting some snaps is a possibility as well, but there is definitely a pecking order to keep in mind, and right now his future is a lot more watching than throwing.
But he is still throwing.
“Yeah, yeah, he does. And he’ll get a few reps and he’ll get some some reps today,” Day said on Tuesday. “But I can’t sit here and tell you he gets enough reps to be able to prepare to play in a game right now. It’s just, it’s really impossible. Once you’re into the season to give somebody reps and these guys, these quarterbacks, these young quarterbacks, they need as many reps as they can just to get ready to play in the game. And so we try to figure out ways to get him a few things after practice and get some work there, and certainly individual.”