August 14, 2013
Wilson aware of expectations at Ohio State
Follow Noon | Givler | Axelrod
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Talk to Dontre Wilson for just a few minutes, and you'll see that the Ohio State running back is different from most college freshmen.
"Yes, sir," Wilson would respond on the Buckeyes' media day, when affirming a reporter's premise.
"No, ma'am," he answered, when appropriate.
But it's not just his southern manners that separate the DeSoto, Texas native from the other 21 members in Urban Meyer's 2013 recruiting class. There's speed. And lots of it.
Even before Ohio State opened up its fall camp less than two weeks ago, the legend of Wilson began to take shape when Heisman hopeful quarterback Braxton Miller anointed him the next big thing at the Big Ten's media days in July. Since then, the expectations for Wilson have taken on a life of their own, with even Meyer admitting that there's something special about the former four-star prospect.
Wilson, for his part, is well aware of the hype that currently surrounds him, but isn't afraid of being a disappointment.
"I set the bar very high for myself," Wilson said. "I just play football. I just come and do what I'm told to do and do what I love to do -- that's play football."
It's not hard to see why Wilson loves football as much as he does, when you take into consideration the numbers that he posted playing against some of Texas' toughest competition in high school. The 5-foot-10, 174-pounder accumulated 2,644 yards of total offense in his senior season, scoring 46 touchdowns on his way to being named The Dallas Morning News' Dallas-area Offensive Player of the Year.
The speedy all-purpose back originally committed to play for Oregon, where he would've drawn comparisons to current Ducks back De'Anthony Thomas. But when head coach Chip Kelly left Eugene to take over the Philadelphia Eagles, Wilson opened up his options, and turned his attention to a nagging OSU offensive coordinator in Tom Herman.
"He was calling me every chance he could, as many times as they allowed him to," Wilson said of Herman. "When he came to visit me, he kept fighting and fighting and fighting. Then when Chip Kelly finally went to the NFL, I told him I wanted to take that visit. I did, and I committed."
It also didn't hurt the Buckeyes' chances that Meyer has a history of utilizing hybrid players like Wilson, something that played a prominent role in the second-year Ohio State head coach's recruiting pitch. While Meyer has been hesitant to say whether or not Wilson is playing the same spot in his offense that turned Percy Harvin into a first round pick at Florida, the freshman insists that he's been used as OSU's 'Pivot' player throughout the first week of fall camp.
"Urban was recruiting me and he said if I was to come here that would be the role that I would play," Wilson said. "Percy Harvin's a great player, (he played a) great role that whole time he was there."
In an effort to train for his new role, Wilson has split time in between the Buckeyes' wide receiver and running back meeting rooms. Despite insisting that he'll primarily be used as a running back, Meyer admitted that the most talked about member of his 2013 class does add something to his offense that he didn't have last season.
"He has a unique skill set where he's extremely dynamic. We all know what that means in the game of football," Meyer said. "He's an incredible athlete."
Should Wilson put up numbers similar to those that Harvin put up in his three-year career in Gainesville -- 3,781 yards of total offense, 32 touchdowns -- then the expectations that have been set for him in the last month won't seem as far-fetched as they may do right now. The hype for Wilson may have exceeded what he even he thought it would be, but the star from the Lone Star State insists that nobody can put more pressure on him than he already puts on himself.
"I didn't expect it to be this way, but I work hard every day and just do my job and do what's asked of me," he said. "I need to get the job done.
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