COLUMBUS — When it comes to the new NCAA rule about red shirting players, Ohio State isn’t saving anyone for a rainy day or even a cold November afternoon against Michigan.
Starting with this season, NCAA Division I college football players can appear in up to four games at any point in the season without losing a year of eligibility. In the past even being on the field for just one play in a game could cost a player a year.
There has been much speculation about teams holding back highly regarded recruits until later in the season for big games because of the new rule. But OSU coach Urban Meyer says that’s not the way he has approached it.
“We really don’t have that luxury right now. We’re more ‘as needed.’ Maybe there was some conversation about that early on when we first heard about the ruling about let’s save them for this. But if they’re ready to play they’re going to play,” Meyer said after practice on Wednesday.
Five players from Ohio State’s 2018 recruiting class have played in the first five games.
One of them is Toledo St. John’s graduate Dallas Gant, who has played mostly on special teams and got some time at linebacker against Tulane. Meyer identified him as someone who might play right away when he enrolled for the second semester in January.
Defensive end Tyreke Smith probably has had the biggest impact. He plays as part of the “Rushmen” package in passing situations and has had four tackles.
The others who have already burned their redshirt are wide receiver Chris Olave, cornerback Cameron Brown and linebacker K’Vaughan Pope.
Four other 2018 recruits have already played in four games – defensive end Tyler Friday, linebacker Teradja Mitchell, tight end Jeremy Ruckert and defensive tackle Tommy Togiai and could get into a fifth game on Saturday against Indiana.
“We’re hanging on at a couple positions right now. We’ve got to get some guys back. (Offensive lineman) Brady Taylor is key to get back. He’s going to be back in a couple weeks. You never have enough depth,” Meyer said.
• Injury report: Defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones and cornerback Damon Arnette, who were injured late in last Saturday’s 27-26 win over Penn State, both will play against Indiana, Meyer said.
He called linebacker Dante Booker “probable” and said defensive lineman Robert Landers, who played at less than full strength against Penn State, will play.
“Robert Landers played really injured up last week but he’ll be better this week,” Meyer said on his weekly radio show on WBNS-FM 97.1 on Thursday.
• They were shocked, too: Wide receiver K.J. Hill said the magnitude of Ohio State’s comeback from two touchdowns behind in the last 6:52 of the game at Penn State didn’t sink in until after the game was over.
Hill, whose 24-yard touchdown catch with 2:03 to play was the game winner, said, “It didn’t hit you until you got on the bus or the plane and you’re watching ESPN that we really just did that.”
• One-sided series: Ohio State has won the last 23 games it has played against Indiana, dating back to a tie in 1990. The last time the Hoosiers beat the Buckeyes was a 41-7 win in 1988 in John Cooper’s first season at OSU.
Ohio State has a 74-12-5 all-time record against Indiana and is 54-2-2 since 1952.
• Injuries, suspension: Indiana played without two of its top receivers, Luke Timian and Whop Phyler, in a 24-17 win at Rutgers last week. Indiana coach Tom Allen said earlier this week it was uncertain if they would play Saturday.
Sophomore running back Morgan Ellison, a Pickerington Central graduate who was Indiana’s leading rusher last season, has returned to practice but a suspension that was imposed for an unspecified violation of team rules, is still in effect.
“The bottom line is he’s been allowed to be with our team recently,” Allen said on the Big Ten coaches teleconference. “We still have no answers for his game opportunities … We still don’t know the long term future. We’re just taking it day by day.”