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CHICAGO, Ill. -- When Ohio State's first roster for the 2013 season was released, Dontre Wilson's jersey number seemed to stand out. After all, it was just last summer that third-year player Bradley Roby had to prove to Urban Meyer that he was worthy of wearing the No. 1 uniform.
So if Meyer is letting a true freshman wear one of the team's most sought-after jersey numbers before his first official practice with the Buckeyes, the thinking goes that he must be something special. And after talking with Wilson's teammates at the Big Ten media days in Chicago this week, that appears to be a hypothesis that carries weight.
Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller could hardly contain his excitement when asked about the former four-star prospect, who committed to Ohio State just days before February's National Signing Day. A big smile flashed across Miller's face when he was asked about the new weapons that he has at his disposal, with Wilson's name being the first that came to mind.
"He brings a different type of game, definitely. He just wants to make plays," Miller said. "He's mature. Coming in as a freshman, he already knows how to run the routes that we got, so that's a big plus."
Although he's listed as a running back on the OSU roster, it doesn't seem right to pigeonhole the DeSoto, Texas native to just one specific position. Listed as an all-purpose back coming out of high school, Wilson seems like a natural fit for the 'Pivot' running back/wide receiver hybrid position in Meyer's spread offense -- the same one that made a star out of Percy Harvin during the Buckeye coach's days at Florida.
"If you are dynamic, the ball will be in your hands," Meyer said. "If he can't run a post route, there's still a way of handing it to you, pitching it to you, shoveling it to you, screens."
Despite his 5-foot-10, 174-pound frame, Miller said that what has impressed him most about his new target is his ability to make plays that others typically can't. Whereas some players wait for the ball to be in their hands and go from there, Wilson has made a name for himself by only needing the ball to be in his vicinity.
"He says, 'You throw it low, I'm gonna get it. You throw it high, I'm definitely going to get it,'" Miller said. "I threw it behind him and that boy turned around, landed on his back and caught it. I was like, 'Wow, boy, you've got something special.' It's nice knowing I've got somebody special on the team that's a playmaker. It feels good."
Wilson won't be able to torture opposing defenses until the Buckeyes' opener on Aug. 31, so in the meantime, he'll have to settle for his own teammates in scrimmage situations. Having watched Wilson in workouts throughout the offseason, OSU safety Christian Bryant, like Miller, immediately thought of the the former Lone Star State star when asked about impact freshmen on this year's roster.
"Dontre looks to be a special player," Bryant said. "With the speed, and his agility, just when he catches the ball, you can just see how he moves. He's going to be a special player."
Although he's yet to participate in his first college practice, the excitement surrounding Wilson is understandable. Named the Offensive Player of the Year in Texas' ultra-competitive Class 5A Division I region, Wilson rushed for 1,892 yards and 37 touchdowns in 2012, while adding 752 yards and nine touchdowns on 37 receptions. Originally committed to spend his college career playing for Oregon, Wilson reopened his recruitment when former Ducks head coach Chip Kelly left to coach the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles.
Meyer, along with offensive coordinator Tom Herman, happily swooped in to secure a commitment from Wilson, knowing that his all-purpose nature would fit right in with their dynamic spread offense. Yet despite his players' high praise for their new teammate, Meyer did his best to temper the lofty expectations that Wilson now faces.
"We've got to slow down on Dontre," Meyer said. "We've gotta slow down."
According to Miller, however, the word 'slow' hardly belongs in the same sentence as Wilson's name.
"He's fast, man," Miller said. "I'm glad to have him on my team."
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