Ohio State football: 4 under-the-radar freshmen to watch

Team Brutus wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. (18) celebrates scoring a touchdown during the Ohio State football Spring Game at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on Saturday, April 17, 2021.Ohio State Football Spring Game
Team Brutus wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. (18) celebrates scoring a touchdown during the Ohio State football Spring Game at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on Saturday, April 17, 2021.Ohio State Football Spring Game /

The Ohio State football team has plenty of stellar freshmen making their college football debut this season. Here are some that seem to be flying under the radar.

If you watched Ohio State’s spring game you’re already familiar with the names of some true freshmen. Jack Sawyer, Emeka Egbuka, Tre’Veyon Henderson. All three stood out. You couldn’t miss them. Quarterback Kyle McCord showed off his abilities as well. But, those are not the only four from the Buckeyes’ supremely talented 2021 recruiting class worth watching. Here are a few other true freshmen to keep an eye on.

Denzel Burke – He drew rave reviews from secondary coach Matt Barnes during spring practice. Barnes told cleveland.com,

"“Not that we’re surprised, but I am to a degree just kind of blown away by how far along he looks at times. Now, he’s still got a long way to go — don’t get me wrong. But he looks pretty natural in there.”"

Burke was officially listed as an Athlete by recruiting websites. The thinking was he could play receiver or defensive back in college. The Buckeyes obviously made the correct choice by wanting him as a cornerback.

Due to starters Sevyn Banks and Cam Brown missing spring practice, he got a lot of important reps. He was comfortable in both man and zone coverages. We all know how much the Buckeyes’ secondary struggled last season. Burke may be a guy who can get into the rotation and help improve on that performance in 2021.

Marvin Harrison, Jr. – In most cases I would not consider him under the radar. He caught seven passes for 49 yards and a touchdown in the spring game. Impressive for a true freshman who had been with the program only a few months.

The problem is Harrison’s performance is almost forgotten in the wake of Egbuka’s breakout showing (seven catches for 123 yards). I fully expect Harrison to find his way onto the two-deep depth chart by the opening game of the season. At 6’3”, 202 pounds he is already one of the bigger receivers on the OSU roster. After spending more time in Mickey Marotti’s strength and conditioning program, he should grow into a physically imposing player.

Related Story. Marvin Harrison Jr. turning heads. light

Jesse Mirco – There hasn’t been much talk about the punter from Freemantle, Australia, but you’re probably going to notice him very early. He’s competing with two others to be the starter, but I expect him to be the guy we see the first time the Buckeyes have to punt.

The 23-year old former Aussie Rules football player is a graduate of the same kicking school that produced former Buckeye Cam Johnston, who is now with the Houston Texans. I expect Mirco to continue the trend of excellent OSU punters.

Donovan Jackson – The only reason the five-star lineman is on this list is because he did not enroll early and take part in spring practice. With all of the talk about the other five-star freshman, Jackson was all but forgotten (read my article on that subject here).

He’s been working with Mickey Marotti since joining the program in May and will be ready to compete for a spot on the depth chart. Big things are expected of the Houston, Texas native. Don’t be surprised if he earns a spot as a backup at one of the guard positions.

The title of the article says four under-the-radar-freshman to watch, but I’m going to give you one more simply because his size intrigues me. Defensive tackle Tyleik Williams is a very large person. He’s 330 pounds packed onto a 6’3” frame, easily the largest of the Ohio State football program’s interior players.

That makes him the perfect size to gum up the middle of the line of scrimmage in a goal-line defense. Even if he is not ready to be part of the regular rotation, he can still be used in a goal-line role. Former Ohio State football player Davon Hamilton was used in much the same way early in his career. Williams’ size could also find him a spot on the field goal and extra point teams. Coaches like using big-bodied players on these units who take up space and are not easy to move.

Next. Ohio State football: Best DE lineup ever?. dark

I won’t be surprised if the members of the 2021 recruiting class contribute as heavily as any group of freshmen in recent memory. During the opening game at Minnesota, I’ll have my roster in front of me checking numbers to see which of them is getting onto the field.