COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Notes, quotes and observations from Wednesday's rare open practice at Ohio State's training camp.
Even while stoking the hype machine one day earlier by talking about his chances to play right away, coach Urban Meyer called Dontre Wilson "not really a receiver."
The true freshman did a pretty good impression with the assembled media watching on Wednesday, putting on a show as a target in the passing game and making it quite clear why the Buckeyes are clearing room for him in the playbook.
Wilson's speed on the track was well documented when he signed with the program in February, and he is certainly a blur in shoulder pads and a helmet. But it was his willingness to make quick, decisive cuts up field and then pull away from defenders that was perhaps the most impressive part of the practice performance, though his reliable hands certainly stood out, too. Whether beating defenders deep on double-move routes or simply jetting through the secondary after a relatively simple out pattern, Wilson was an absolute handful throughout the morning and finished it by lining up in the slot with the first-team offense in a scrimmage setting.
"Dontre, he’s a special player," senior safety Christian Bryant said. "Right now I feel like he has a lot of attributes he can bring to the team, one of those things being one of those elusive guys out there."
The progress made as a leader has generated the most attention early in camp, but the technical strides as a passer and the pinpoint accuracy Braxton Miller showed in another solid workout are much easier to gauge.
The junior quarterback was sharp from start to finish, fitting throws into tight windows, getting the ball out quickly thanks to improved recognition of the defense and delivering it to receivers with plenty of velocity to spare as the aerial attack continues to show signs of becoming as dangerous as Meyer would like it to be.
Miller's ability to communicate with the rest of the offense and his willingness to correct teammates’ mistakes shouldn't be overlooked, either. But adding to his repertoire in the throwing game could really send his statistics to another level and produce one of the most explosive offenses in Ohio State history.
"Just his whole demeanor, his relationship with the receivers, I don’t want to say nonexistent, but I just didn’t see that," Meyer said. "He really didn’t know what he was doing, and it’s hard to lead -- part of being the leader is setting the standard and leading by example. He wasn’t leading by example, because he really didn’t know what he was doing.
"I just see a much better presence about him."
The matchup hardly seemed fair even before the snap, and it only took a couple seconds for Adolphus Washington to prove it once the play finally started.
The sophomore defensive end was easily the most disruptive force lining up on the line Wednesday morning, and when second-team tackle Kyle Dodson faced off with him in the red zone, Washington made quick work of him and a running back who tried to chip him as he bulled around the left edge for an easy sack.
Washington, too, showed a willingness despite his young age to raise his voice to teammates and offer tips to the freshmen during drills early in the workout, and he appears to be well ahead of pace in both his development as a pass-rusher and potential leader for the linemen -- a group that is replacing all four starters from a year ago.
The rigors of camp make it unusual to escape without injury, and the Buckeyes didn't even make it through four days without some issues popping up.
True freshman defensive back Jayme Thompson left practice to have his ankle examined, and the Toledo Blade confirmed through the his father that the bone was broken and he'll be out for three months. Devan Bogard's return from a season-ending injury last year has apparently been slowed by a knee strain, and the Buckeyes still don't have Corey Linsley back to full speed at center following his foot surgery in the offseason.
But the biggest scare for Ohio State might have been the apparent ankle injury for senior left guard Andrew Norwell, an issue that kept him off the field for the latter stages of the workout and pressed redshirt freshman Pat Elflein into the rotation to replace the veteran. Norwell didn't look to be seriously harmed, but at one of the two positions along with linebacker that Meyer is most worried about the lack of depth, the Buckeyes will obviously err on the side of caution to make sure he's fully ready to go before putting him back on the field again.