The big stage and the next phase await Dontre Wilson on Saturday.
In his first college game, there’s a chance Ohio State’s freshman speedster — and apparent star in waiting — will get the game’s very first touch. On Monday, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said Wilson will be back to receive the kickoff the first time the Buckeyes kickoff return unit takes the field vs. Buffalo.
Ohio State didn’t release a depth chart on Monday, and Meyer doesn’t even usually admit that a game scheduled for a 12:07 kickoff time will actually have a 12:07 kickoff time. So for him to spill the beans means he’s a little excited to see what Wilson will bring.
“I’m anxious,” Meyer said. “The thing I like about Dontre is he doesn’t seem fazed, but he has not (run out of the tunnel) in front of 106,000 people yet. If you see me jog someone else out there (for the first kickoff return), you know we are having a little hyperventilating issue, which I’ve seen before. Isn’t that beautiful about young players?”
Wilson is listed at 5’11, 180 and looks ready; he’s no skinny freshman. Speed is the DeSoto, Texas, native’s greatest asset, and on Monday Meyer listed Wilson as one of just three freshmen he’s sure will play in No. 2 Ohio State’s season opener.
“He’s going to touch the ball,” Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman said. “We’d be foolish not to have him touch the ball.”
Wilson flipped his commitment from Oregon to Ohio State after Chip Kelly left for the Philadelphia Eagles last January. Meyer said through the summer he’d been hearing positive things about Wilson in summer workouts and did little to temper the hype through training camp, during which Wilson worked both as a wide receiver and a running back.
Comparing a guy who has not yet played a college game to Percy Harvin, even with Meyer as the common denominator, is a little ridiculous.
So, check back on Sunday.
“I think that you have to be careful with a true freshman that has to play some running back, has to play some wide receiver, has to flex out and run routes, yet be in the backfield and run,” Herman said. “And so the package will be small to start the year off, and (we’ll) let him become an expert at the few things that we are asking him to do.
“Through the first few weeks, we have thrown a ton of tough things at him and now that he’s been exposed to so many different things and he’s screwed a lot of them up, the exposure is there. And now this last week will be kind of fine tuning…what you need to be really good at come Saturday against Buffalo, these eight, 10 plays, formations, routes, runs.
“How often (Wilson touches the ball) and how many snaps and how many plays, I don’t know. And I’m not being coy. At this point (on Monday) of game week, I don’t know that we know that. But I know he’ll touch the ball and I know he’ll have a condensed package for us to get the ball to him.”
From there, it will be up to Wilson. And up to Buffalo to try to catch him.