COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — For Ohio State to be a national contender this fall, it'll have to rely on quarterback Braxton Miller, a strong defensive line — and a lot of kids even Buckeyes fans don't know very well.
Coach Urban Meyer has been keeping a close watch on them. He's liked what he's seen so far. More than that, however, he really loves the upside of new guys coming into the program to shake things up.
Asked recently about the problem area at linebacker, Meyer got visibly excited when the talk turned to an incoming freshman who isn't even on campus yet.
"There's a kid named Kyle Berger," he said of a touted prospect out of Cleveland. "I can't wait to get him here. I saw him the other day: 230 pounds and jacked. Those are the kind of players we want out there."
That's just one example of an influx of young talent that could help transform the Buckeyes.
Berger won't be playing at Ohio Stadium in the annual intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday — he still has to graduate from St. Ignatius High School — but others will be showing what they can do.
They include receiver Johnnie Dixon, linebacker Raekwon McMillan, H-back Curtis Samuel, offensive lineman Marcelys Jones, kicker Sean Nuernberger and quarterbacks Cardale Jones, J.T. Barrett and Stephen Collier.
Jones and Barrett aren't new to the program but are competing for playing time for the first time.
Dixon is a speed merchant of a wide-out who is already in the mix at receiver.
"He's been impressive," said assistant coach Zach Smith. "He's a grown man for an 18-year-old. He comes in and handles his business in the classroom and on the field. I'm excited about where he's going to be."
Like every coach asked to talk about a youngster, Smith adds a quick qualifier.
"Now, he's a typical freshman who's still learning and still trying to figure everything out," he said. "But he has a commitment to be great and he's doing everything we ask him to do right now. And that's usually a formula for success."
McMillan, like Dixon, Samuel, Jones, Nuernberger and Collier, graduated early from high school to enroll at Ohio State and gain the experience of spring practice. It's sort of like interning on the job to get an idea of what's ahead.
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