Urban Meyer has a need for speed.
In his short tenure at Ohio State, the coach has quickly stockpiled players who fit his offensive vision. The Buckeyes' latest recruiting class is no exception, with players such as Curtis Samuel, Parris Campbell and Johnnie Dixon, who all qualify as being fleet of foot.
They join Ezekiel Elliott, the favorite to assume a starting running back position left vacant by the departure of Carlos Hyde, and Dontre Wilson, the speedster who totaled 460 yards as a freshman.
"[They] are those prototype guys, hybrid-type players we're looking for," Meyer said. … "We have to get our speed up, [and also] overall offensive skill, but we have, from where it was two years ago to where it is now."
Braxton Miller will have a new cast of characters surrounding him on stage this season. He'll have four new starting offensive linemen up front, a new tailback and a handful of new faces factoring in at receiver and the H-back position.
"We have a guy coming back that's a seasoned veteran and has continued to improve his game," said offensive coordinator Tom Herman. "We have to make sure everybody around him is up to that level."
Meyer referred to Samuel on National Signing Day as being "electric fast." Running backs coach Stan Drayton called him "a very dynamic player."
"He brings speed to our backfield that I don't believe we've had since I've been here," Drayton said.
Receivers coach Zach Smith said Wilson would work with his position group and Samuel would work under Drayton's direction, though the exact plan for how to use the glut of speedsters without defined roles remains undetermined.
Drayton said he hopes Samuel can fill a role similar to that of Jordan Hall. Traditionally a tailback, Hall occasionally lined up at receiver. Wilson often played the part last season. Could Samuel make a similar impact during his first season in Columbus?
"They're similar in the fact they can run from point A to point B really fast," Drayton said. "Dontre's got some playing experience under his belt. They were used similarly coming out of high school. They were coming from a spread offense where they were asked to do some of the same things.
"What we don't know about Curtis Samuel right now is: How is he going to respond when he's in The 'Shoe with 108,000 people looking at him. When the ball is in the air, is he going to muff it or bow up and embrace the moment? We do know that Dontre Wilson doesn't flinch in that situation.
"So it's a lot of those intangible things that have an effect on the productivity of a young football player at this level. We do know that he definitely has a set of tools that's going to be a valuable asset to our offense. How he could bring that to the table in his first year, we'll see."
Meyer stressed last week that the incoming recruiting class would be relied upon to contribute. Herman pointed to Dixon, a receiver from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., as a freshman who could earn considerable playing time in his first year. Seniors Devin Smith and Evan Spencer are expected to start at receiver, though Zach Smith refused to guarantee a starting spot to either veteran, instead calling it an open competition.
That could open the door for more touches for Wilson, Samuel or Campbell, another shifty threat who played multiple roles in high school. Meyer said Campbell "should be one of the fastest guys in the state of Ohio."
Dixon and Samuel enrolled early at Ohio State and have participated in off-season workouts.
"Having seen them go through workouts and agility drills and things like that," Herman said, "it definitely excites you."
Urban Meyer has a need for speed.