Well, we finally made it to the end of our Michigan opponent Players to Watch series! And as this series has always been, it ends with those damn Ohio State Buckeyes.
Let’s get right into it, because I don’t want to talk about Ohio State longer than I have to.
Justin Fields QB
Ohio State lost controversial head coach Urban Meyer to retirement (for now) and 12-year starter J.T. Barrett after the 2018 season, but gained 5-star quarterback in Justin Fields in college football free agency — AKA the transfer portal.
The former Georgia quarterback didn’t get a ton of playing time due to Jake Fromm having a secure grip on the job. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t talented. Remember, he was rated the No. 2 quarterback in the 2018 class, right behind Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence.
Standing at 6-foot-3, weighing 223 pounds and running a 4.51 40-yard dash time before his freshman season at Georgia, Fields has all the tools to be an effective, and so very typical, mobile Buckeye quarterback. He’ll be the most athletic at the position they’ve had in quite some time, so Fields will certainly be one to watch in 2019.
Chase Young, DE
At least the Bosa’s are gone, right?
Despite the Bosa bloodline drying up, the Buckeyes still have Young, a freakish pass-rusher and probably among the Big Ten’s best.
Playing in all 14 games as a sophomore in 2018, Young compiled 15.5 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, nine quarterback hits, five pass breakups and two forced fumbles. With Nick Bosa out for the season after their TCU game, the Buckeyes relied heavily on Young’s contributions up front.
Already being mocked very high in the 2020 NFL Draft, Young will yet again be one of Ohio State’s top defensive players this season. Michigan’s offensive tackles should start watching film on him now.
Shaun Wade, CB
I went back and forth with a couple other guys — Jordan Fuller and K.J. Hill specifically — but I decided to go with Wade for a couple reasons.
Wade made the most of his playing time as a redshirt freshman in 2018, as he compiled three interceptions, seven pass breakups, one forced fumble and a blocked kick. He also had 31 tackles, 27 of which were unassisted.
I also chose to highlight Wade because he will more than likely be Ohio State’s top cornerback this season. If the Wolverines are truly going to utilize their receivers this season under new offensive coordinator Josh Gattis, Wade is going to be one guy you have to create mismatches with if you want to find success through the air against the Buckeyes.
Ohio State did just that with Michigan’s corners a season ago. Unfortunately, we will have to wait until Nov. 30 and see if Gattis and Michigan’s receivers can do something similar to Ohio State this year at the Big House.