August 10, 2013

Emerging Wilson loses black stripe

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- It shouldn't come as a surprise that it took less than a week for Dontre Wilson to lose his black stripe. After all, there appear to be very few things that the Ohio State freshman running back doesn't do quickly.

A tradition brought to the Buckeyes by second-year head coach Urban Meyer, newcomers to the OSU program are branded with a black stripe across their practice helmet at the start of fall camp, until they earn the right to have it removed and "officially" join the Buckeyes' roster. After walk-on receiver Joe Ramstetter lost his stripe on Thursday, Wilson earned the right to remove his on Saturday, alongside linebacker Mike Mitchell.

Wilson's ascension doesn't come as a surprise to anybody who's had access to the Buckeyes during their first week of fall camp, as his teammates, Meyer, and the media have all raved about the play of the DeSoto, Texas native.

"That little joker right there is quick," junior wide receiver Evan Spencer said of Wilson. "You guys will see. He is so explosive. You never know which way he is going to go or what move he's going to make. He can really move."

Despite being listed as a running back on the OSU roster, the 5-foot-10, 174-pounder has spent the majority of his time in practice working out of the slot, with Meyer and Buckeyes offensive coordinator Tom Herman finding various ways to get the ball into Wilson's hands. The true freshman has split time between Ohio State's running backs and wide receivers meeting rooms, which is reminiscent of the way that Meyer trained hybrid player Percy Harvin during his time at Florida.

"Dontre's a very talented guy. He's a running back, really, so that's kind of what he's built for and that's how we're going to utilize him, but getting to work with him in the throw game also is beneficial to the team," Buckeyes wide receivers coach Zach Smith said. "You never don't enjoy a great talent."

Ohio State fans will have to wait another three weeks to enjoy that talent, but the OSU offense is already enjoying the benefits that the former four-star prospect has brought with him to Columbus. At Wednesday's open practice, the media in attendance was wowed by the apparent speed that Wilson possesses, a sentiment that's been shared by a number of his Buckeye teammates.

"He's playing real fast right now because he's not worried about making a mistake, which is good, and that's how every freshman should play." senior wide receiver Corey Brown said of Wilson. "He just gets it."

"He brings a different type of game, definitely. He just wants to make plays," quarterback Braxton Miller added. "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."

With all of the praise that's been heaped on Wilson before his first college game, it's clear that the Buckeyes now have an athlete unlike any other in perhaps program history. Meyer hopes that at least that much will be apparent on Saturdays, where Wilson will look to live up to the hype in his trademark quick manner.

"He's just got something that we didn't have last year," Meyer said. "That's just electric speed and he doesn't care. He just goes hard."




 

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