Freshmen making early contributions for Buckeyes

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Freshmen making early contributions for Buckeyes

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Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins runs for a score against Army on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. David Jablonski/Staff

It’s not easy to find playing time as a true freshman for the Ohio State Buckeyes, even if you’re part of the second-ranked recruiting class in the nation and one of the best classes in school history.

“This could go down as one of the great classes,” coach Urban Meyer said in February on National Signing Day.

Eight months later, the class has produced one instant star, a number of early contributors and a few players who won’t get their chance until future seasons. Here’s a rundown of how the freshmen have fared:

Starter: Running back J.K. Dobbins, one of nine freshmen to enroll at Ohio State in January, leads this group. Returning starter Mike Weber’s preseason hamstring injury opened the door for him to start the opener at Indiana, and he took advantage. Through five games, he ranks third in the Big Ten in rushing (573 yards).

Backups: Wide receiver Jaylen Harris has appeared in two games and has two catches for 27 yards.

• Wide receiver Trevon Grimes has made two appearances. He has three catches for 20 yards.

• Right tackle Thayer Munford, who backs up Isaiah Prince, has appeared in the last three games.

• Cornerback Jeffrey Okudah, who plays behind Denzel Ward, has earned snaps on defense and special teams in all five games, recording three tackles.

• Cornerback Marcus Williamson has appeared in the last two games.

• Linebacker Baron Browning has appeared in three games and has seven tackles. He’s playing on special teams, as well.

• Safety Isaiah Pryor, Damon Webb’s backup, had four tackles, including a sack, against UNLV. He also earned praise from Meyer for his effort on special teams in that game.

• Safety Brendon White has appeared in the last two games.

• Defensive end Chase Young has appeared in four games and earned a champion grade in a 56-0 victory Saturday at Rutgers.

• Defensive tackle Haskell Garrett has appeared in four games. He has two tackles.

Special teams contributors: Linebacker Pete Werner was named special teams player of the week for his performance Saturday against Rutgers. Meyer called him one of the most improved players on the team in recent weeks.

“Buy stock in that guy for his career,” Meyer said. “He’s got some good stuff going right now.”

• Cornerback Amir Riep leads the team with five tackles on special teams.

• Blake Haubeil handled kickoff duties in the first five games but Meyer said Monday he will switch to Sean Nuernberger.

“We were not good at that position,” Meyer said.

Have not played: Fourth-string quarterback Tate Martell was one of eight freshmen on the travel roster for the Rutgers game, but he has not earned a snap this season. Among the other players who may be headed for a redshirt year are: left guard Josh Myers, a Miamisburg High School graduate; right guard Wyatt Davis; wide receiver Ellijah Gardiner; defensive lineman Jerron Cage; and cornerback Shaun Wade.

SATURDAY’S GAME

Maryland at Ohio State, 4 p.m., FOX, 1410

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