COLUMBUS, Ohio – Stocked with veterans throughout the two-deep, No. 2 Ohio State has had some interlopers who are barely old enough to shave.
With just a few days left before they open the season on Sept. 2 against Marshall, the Buckeyes have several freshmen who already have made an impact even before attending their first college class.
"Our freshmen have done a good job," cornerback Chimdi Chekwa said. "I don't know if it was too much of a surprise. These guys were highly recruited."
Coach Jim Tressel has praised several first-year players who figure into the mix.
Among those true freshmen who have impressed so far are defensive linemen Johnathan Hankins, J.T. Moore and Darryl Baldwin; kicker Drew Basil; offensive linemen Andrew Norwell and Jack Mewhort; defensive backs Bradley Roby, Corey Brown and Jamie Wood; wide receiver Corey Brown; and running back Carlos Hyde.
Basil is competing to handle placements with 27-year-old senior Devin Barclay.
Yes, there are two Corey Browns, one a defensive back from the Pittsburgh area and the other a receiver from Philadelphia.
Some say "Philly" Brown might be the fastest player on the team.
He's already gotten the attention of quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
And, yes, Hyde was originally supposed to be a member of the 2009 recruiting class but he spent last fall at Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy polishing his grades.
Making the biggest splash has been Hankins, a 6-foot-3, 335-pound mountain of a lineman from Dearborn Heights, Mich. With Nathan Williams missing practice with a minor knee injury, Hankins has had a terrific camp.
He's even earned a nickname.
"Big Hang, he's a tough dude," linebacker Ross Homan said. "He's that defensive tackle that you want. He's tough, he's mean. He's right next to my locker now, and he'll come by every day and be, like, 'Man, I only got two sacks. I need to make some more plays.' After you hear that, you know he's going to be a great player."
Norwell, 6-5 and 308 out of Cincinnati, has climbed the depth chart on the offensive line.
"Andrew's been doing real good," guard Justin Boren said. "He started out on the third team. He's a great pass-protector. He's still getting the hang of some of the calls. It's overwhelming when you come in here as a freshman, trying to learn the whole offense. But he's got a pretty good grasp of it."
Freshmen need time to adapt to a new system, bigger, faster opponents and the rigors of being away from home and in new surroundings. Some are able to acclimate faster than others.
"He understands what's going on now, made a couple plays, and I definitely think he's ready to step in a role this year," cornerback Devon Torrence said of "Pittsburgh" Corey Brown. "If the situation arises (he could play) because you never know — it's a long season."