The Ohio State football program has been defined with playmakers and players that have multiple uses on the roster. A team that emphasizes being well-versed in all aspects of the game has produced the likes of players that transition to the NFL as guys who can insert themselves into different positions.
Most recently, OSU produced Jalin Marshall, who now plays for the New York Jets, as such a talent. This year, junior H-back Curtis Samuel could benefit from being the Swiss army knife of the Buckeyes.
Samuel stands at 5-foot-11 and 197 pounds, giving him the size of many NCAA running backs, but also possesses the speed of a wide receiver. This combination has helped the Brooklyn, New York native produce 1,352 all-purpose yards in his career, along with nine total touchdowns.
“I think he’s our No. 1 playmaker on offense right now,” said OSU coach Urban Meyer. “He’s gotta stay healthy and he’s gotta go, and I just love his skill set.”
Although the clear-cut leaders for running back and wide receiver are redshirt freshman Mike Weber and redshirt sophomore Noah Brown, respectively, the second spots for these positions are still open. Samuel is poised to see playing time in each role.
Being singled out as one of the most important pieces of the puzzle for OSU is something Samuel does not take lightly. Still, he is not prepared to say he will be the one carrying the team.
“I’m honored for coach Meyer to say that about me,” Samuel said. “But, as I know and he knows, we have a bunch of playmakers on this team. A bunch of guys that’s very dynamic and are going to have a great year.”
Samuel enjoyed most of his success last season as a receiver, racking up 289 yards on 22 receptions and two touchdowns. He averaged 13.1 yards per reception, tying him with OSU alumnus and Houston Texans receiver Braxton Miller.
As a running back, Samuel only carried the ball 17 times in 2015, giving up a majority of his touches to now-departed Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys running back. A young backfield could result in an increase to that total, but the junior said his time will be spread uniformly across two positions.
“I’ll be spending time playing H-back and playing tailback,” Samuel said. “Even amount of catches, even amount of carries. I’ll be doing both.”