Several Buckeyes have opportunities to contribute in 2017 and beyond
In Feb. 2014, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer and his staff were able to sign a class of 23 players. Of those 23, only five left the program due to transfer, injury, or retirement. The other 18 players have either emerged as starters or contributed to the team in some way.
Part one of this series dealt with the departures from the program. Part two will focus on the players who have been contributors, or could possibly even emerge as starters in 2017 or beyond for the Buckeyes.
1. Dylan Thompson, DL
Thompson has played sparingly for Ohio State, having battled injuries throughout his time in Columbus. He redshirted in 2014 following a knee injury and then played sparingly the following season. At B1G Media Days, Urban Meyer stated that Thompson was back on the team, but was no longer on scholarship. He was academically ineligible last season, so this fall could be his last opportunity for playing time as a Buckeye.
2. Terry McLaurin, WR
McLaurin is in the running to emerge as a starter in 2017, after playing primarily on special teams. McLaurin has actually started four times over the past three seasons, and was mentioned by the coaching staff as an emerging wide receiver during the spring. Meyer confirmed this line of thinking earlier this week at B1G Media Days when he announced that McLaurin would be a starter this season. The junior will have eligibility remaining after the 2017 season.
3. Demetrius Knox, OL
Knox was highly recruited out of Texas. After redshirting as a freshman, he played primarily on special teams in 2015 before battling injuries last season. He made an appearance in the College Football Playoff semifinal against Clemson when starter Michael Jordan exited with an injury, but Knox struggled when he was on the field. He is expected to battle for a starting guard spot in fall camp and will have eligibility remaining after the 2017 season.
4. Johnnie Dixon, WR
This season represents a now-or-never opportunity for Dixon. Highly recruited out of Florida, he has battled knee injuries continually throughout his time in Columbus. Dixon truly shined in the 2017 Ohio State Spring Game, with six receptions for 108 yards and two touchdowns. The hope is that Dixon will be able to stay injury free and make his final season as a Buckeye truly memorable.
5. Erick Smith, DB
Another of the group of players who signed with Ohio State out of Cleveland Glenville, Smith has battled injuries during his time in Columbus. He played as a true freshman in 2014 on special teams, and was given a larger role the following season before suffering a knee injury midway through. He returned and appeared in every game last season and is in contention for one of the starting safety positions this fall following the departure of first-round NFL draft picks Marshon Lattimore, Malik Hooker and Gareon Conley.
6. Brady Taylor, OL
Taylor was a late addition to the 2014 class, flipping from a verbal commitment to Virginia Tech. After redshirting as a freshman, he has been a backup center, earning the majority of his playing time last season. Taylor will have additional eligibility after the 2017 season.
Part three of the series will focus upon the players who emerged as starters for Ohio State. Several of these players have moved onto the NFL, while there are others are enterting their final season in Columbus.