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Redshirt players making an impact for Ohio State

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Redshirt-sophomore offensive lineman Pat Elflein (65) blocks during a game against Minnesota on Nov. 15 in Minneapolis. OSU won, 31-24. Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editor

Redshirt-sophomore offensive lineman Pat Elflein (65) blocks during a game against Minnesota on Nov. 15 in Minneapolis. OSU won, 31-24.
Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editor

When Urban Meyer first came to Ohio State in late 2011, he made it clear that he was not a fan of redshirting players.

Now, three years later, he might be changing his tone slightly.

“Those days (of redshirting) are certainly here (but) if you are a good player, play ‘em,” Meyer said Tuesday during the Big Ten teleconference. “That is going to be our philosophy to continue moving forward.”

The Buckeyes currently have 34 players on their roster that have been redshirted at least once.

One of those players is OSU starting quarterback J.T. Barrett, along with three of the five starting offensive lineman.

Redshirt-sophomore offensive lineman Pat Elflein said his redshirt year helped him get used to the college game.

“It definitely benefitted me a lot,” he said Monday. “My freshman year, just being on scout team going against (Johnathan) Hankins and (John) Simon and transitioning to this level of play (helped a lot).”

Specifically, Elflein said his time on the scout team and not being afraid to make mistakes were what made his redshirt year in 2012 so beneficial.

“You can kind of just go out there and play (on scout team) and kind of get acclimated to this level of football and I got so much better doing that,” Elflein said. “It just transferred over to learning the offense after that and it all just came together.”

For Elflein, it paid off as he made his first career start on a big stage in the 2013 Big Ten Championship game, when he said he thought he performed admirably.

“We fell short last year, and that still hurts,” he said. “I played well that game, but we want to get back there and win the Big Ten.”

Defensively, the Buckeyes currently have three redshirt players in the starting lineup, including redshirt-freshman cornerback Eli Apple, who was one of two players Meyer singled out when discussing the benefits of a year off.

“(Redshirt-freshman linebacker) Darron Lee and Eli Apple are two guys off the top of my head … Will Eli Apple be here five years? No. My guess is if he continues to improve, that he may move on,” Meyer said.

Lee is one of six players who has started each game on defense and is second on the team in tackles for loss for loss with 9.5.

Apple, who has started all but one game this season, said watching from the sidelines last year was beneficial, adding that he learned a lot from veteran players at his position.

“When I first got here, I definitely had my little struggles. I feel like that redshirt year really helped me a lot just watching guys like (Bradley) Roby, watching guys like (current senior) Doran (Grant), see how they handle their business and picking up stuff from them,” Apple said Monday. “When I came in this year, I really wanted to take an approach — take things serious, work on my technique, work on all aspects of my game and it has really helped out.”

Already with two interceptions under his belt, Apple said that with each game comes more assurance in his abilities.

“I feel like my confidence has grown after each game,” Apple said. “It’s just great being a starting corner, playing opposite of Doran Grant, somebody that just takes the game so serious. It’s one of those things where you have to raise your game up a notch every week because you got somebody like him who just goes so hard and has great preparation.”

The Buckeyes are scheduled to take on the Indiana Hoosiers on Saturday at Ohio Stadium. Kickoff is set for noon.

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