Can any of Ohio State's 2016 early enrollees help right away?

BY Marcus Hartman • January 13, 2016

After losing more underclassmen early than it ever has in one season, Ohio State is bringing in one of its largest groups of early enrolling freshmen ever. 

Only six starters return from the Buckeyes' 12-1 season of 2015, so some of the seven newcomers could find a larger-than-usual opportunity to earn early playing time, be it in a starting capacity or on special teams. 

Jonathon Cooper, a 247Sports five-star prospect from Gahanna (Ohio) Lincoln, is the headliner of the group as the most highly regarded. 

Two more of the newcomers also play defense: Tuf Borland, a linebacker from Bolingbrook, Ill., and Malik Barrow, a lineman from Tampa, Fla. 

On the offensive side of the ball, Ohio State's early enrollees include offensive linemen Michael Jordan of Canton (Mich.) Plymouth and Tyler Gerald of Portsmouth (Ohio) Sciotoville East along with receiver Austin Mack of Fort Wayne (Ind.) Bishop Luers and running back Antonio Williams of New London (N.C.) North Stanly. 

Aside from Cooper, all of the newcomers are four-star prospects. 

Barrow and Gerald finished their high school careers at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. 

Five of the newcomers are joining position groups that lost an underclassmen to draft aspirations earlier in January. 

Williams, who initially committed to Wisconsin, will join the pool of players competing to replace Ezekiel Elliott while Mack will try to compete for playing time in a receivers room that lost Michael Thomas and Jalin Marshall (along with senior Braxton Miller). 

On the defensive line, Ohio State lost All-American Joey Bosa while linebacker Darron Lee also left early. 

Ohio State also had seven early enrollees in 2014, a group that included linebacker Raekwon McMillan and Curtis Samuel. 

Ohio State is scheduled to begin spring practice March 8 and will conclude spring drills with the spring game April 16. 

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