Our positional breakdowns continue with a look at key players on Special Teams for the Buckeyes. We will take a look at the Buckeyes kicker, punter, as well as their return men. Ohio State’s kicker will be the familiar Drew Basil. Cameron Johnston, a freshman from Australia, will handle the punting. Electrifying frehsman Dontre Wilson will be handling kick returns, and “Philly” Brown will likely handle the majority of the punt return duties.
Senior Drew Basil will be kicking field goals for the Buckeyes for his third season and handling kickoff for his fourth season. If Basil plays every game this season, he could potentially play in 52 games, which would tie four players for second-place all time in terms of game played. Basil is a career 24 of 32 on his field goal attempts (75%, 5th in school history) and 92 of 94 on PAT attempts (97.8%, 6th in school history). Kicking off, Basil has 41 tackles and is also not one to shy away from contact- Basil has 15 career tackles (13 solo). Basil set a career high with 14 points in the Michigan game last year, knocking down 4 of his 5 attempts including a career-long 52 yard field goal. In high school, Basil was named an all-Ohio soccer player three times.
It was originally thought that Basil might handle both the kicking and punting duties for the 2013 campaign. Enter freshman Punter Cameron Johnston. Johnston (21) is a former Australian Rules Football player who always had his sights set on punting in America. Johnston caught Ohio State’s attention with his videos of 80-yard punts and long hang times. Cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs, who will also oversee the kicking game this year, was quite impressed with what he saw from Johnston in the first week of camp:
“Special, special, special. He’s gifted. He can kick the ball a long way. He can kick it high. He can kick it where you want him to kick it. He can do all the kicks right now. Provided he can continue to do that and manage the American football environment that he is about to placed in, he is going to be a great, great addition to our team.”
Johnston, a true scholar-athlete, is excited at the opportunity to finish his degree while punting for the Buckeyes.
Head Coach Urban Meyer named a series of possible return men yesterday, but headlining this list was freshman Dontre Wilson. Buckeye fans are expecting big things from Dontre Wilson, and in a crowded backfield situation, Wilson’s best opportunity to make a statement to the coaching staff will likely come on special teams.
Dontre Wilson’s biggest element is his world-class speed. His high school numbers are staggering: 10.5 second 100-meter, 20.9 second-200 meter, and a 4.33 40-yard dash time. Wilson attends meetings for both running backs and the “hybrid/pivot” position. Wilson is easily in the conversation for fastest Buckeyes, joining Bradley Roby, Braxton Miller, and fellow freshmen Ezekiel Elliott and Jalin Marshall. Wilson is hoping he can make a similar impact that NFL star Percy Harvin had his freshman year at Florida:
“I know Percy Harvin is a great player. They used him on various spots on the field, put him out in space, and he always had the ball in his hands to do what he does best. To talk about me having that role, that’s a great thing for me.”
Wilson’s speed brings a new brand of elusiveness to the Buckeyes, who outside of Miller did not have much on the roster that excelled in that department. Who says he is a home run hitter? Wilson himself, when answering that direct question with a confident, “Yes sir, I am.” Wilson will be a playmaker on special teams and Buckeye fans should not be suprised if his play there earns him more repetitions on the offensive side of the ball as well.
Lastly, wide receiver Philly Brown will likely return most punts for Ohio State. Brown came up big with return touchdowns against Nebraska and against Wisconsin. Each week after those games Brown was named the Big Ten special teams player of the week. He was also honored by the team, being named the Ike Kelley outstanding special teams award recipient after the season.
For more in our Positional Breakdown Series: