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PFB Roundtable: Spring Football Buzz on RBs and Potential Breakout Players

The Pistols Firing staff talks breakout players for 2021 and is a little too hyped for OSU’s defense.



[Photos via OSU Athletics]

Spring is in full swing. So it’s time the Pistols Firing staff convened to discuss some of our favorite breakout candidates and who we’re most excited to see some September.

Kyle Cox: Let’s jump into it then. Spring ball. Which wide receiver are you most amped up about? I think I’ve known Boone’s since the Cheez-It Bowl.

Kyle Boone: I’m juiced to see what Brennan Presley can do in a larger role. He caught one pass in the regular season for seven yards then exploded against Miami for six receptions, 118 yards and three tuddies to polish off his freshman year. He may not be that productive every game as a sophomore, but he is going to be plenty productive — and entertaining to boot. (Now give me Braylin Presley and let’s double this fun, Mikey G.)

Marshall Scott: Boone’s answer is the easy answer, so I’ll go a little off the beaten path and talk about another slot receiver in Braydon Johnson. Kasey Dunn said a few weeks ago that they moved Johnson back inside after he primarily played on the outside the past few years. I think his skillset (aka speed) translate best as a slot guy. With Presley and him and a whole host of big bodies on the outside, I think OSU could run a lot more four-receiver sets this season, and I’m here for it.

Cox: For the sake of variety I’ll go with a not-so-sleeper, Tay Martin. At the start of spring, Kasey Dunn mentioned him as a candidate to help fill the huge hole that Tylan Wallace’s departure will leave. He’s got experience and showed in spot duty last season that he can make plays.

Cox: In that same vein, which player on offense do you think takes the biggest leap?

I’ll go ahead and double down on my Spencer Sanders stock. The noise from camp is that QB1 is much improved and is set for a big junior season. This will be the first full spring and offseason for Sanders and his first full year with the same OC and QBs coach. We know he can make plays but if he takes advantage of that consistency and continues on his trajectory from last year, OSU’s offense should be just fine with No. 3 at the helm.

Scott: I’ll cheat and say the offensive line as a whole. We’ve heard good things about transfer center Danny Godlevske, and last season was so tragic on OSU’s O-line with all the injuries and youth. That youth should be better with a full winter/spring/summer with Rob Glass, and I think that’s where the Cowboys’ biggest offensive improvement will come.

Cox: Which will, in turn, make my pick look even better. Win-win for me.

Boone: Yeah, I think Spencer is probably the right pick? Or maybe it’s my hopeful pick? OSU can only go as far he goes. So there’s obvious optimism and hope that he makes a leap.

On brand, my actual answer has to be Dominic Richardson. Finished the season strong and OSU needs someone in the RB room to step up. He’s going to have a lot of competition to becoming the guy, but he has real breakout potential.

Cox: Turning to the defensive side of the field, which member of Jim Knowles’ squad makes the biggest leap in 2021?

Boone: Feed me all of your Tyler Lacy stock. Need it. Showed some superstar flashes last season, and with Trace Ford coming off a knee injury, he’s going to be needed to step up as a top-shelf pass-rusher off the edge.

Scott: Devin Harper is recovering from a surgery this spring, but I think he is going to turn a lot of heads in the fall filling in Amen Ogbongbemiga’s spot. Knowles has been speaking highly of Harper for a while now, and it’s finally his time to be at the middle of that defense.

I also love Tyler Lacy.

Boone: He’s mine, back off.

Scott: Fine, dibs on Trace Ford. When my guys get healthy, look out.

Boone: That’s a squad. OSU has some legit edge rushers, and I think we’ve gotta give them props for evolving in their recruiting to find guys who fit their scheme. Like, Collin Oliver is going to be a star, Brock Martin is already super productive and we haven’t even talked about Kody Walterscheid.

Scott: Jayden Jernigan was solid as a true freshman, and even he is back this year!

Boone: Oh snap. You’re right. Yes. Wait, is the defense going to be better this year?

Scott: I think it will all depend on how they replace Rodarius. He look away every team’s best receiver last year. If Holmes/Bernard-Converse/Korie Black can preform admirably, I’ll give you a solid maybe.

Cox: I agree. Knowles was able to do a lot of creative thing because he was so good against the other team’s WR1. Which leads into my breakout candidate being Thomas Harper.

Also, we haven’t even mentioned Kolby Harvell-Peel who’s probably OSU’s best returning player, on either side of the ball. Defense looks salty as of April.

Okay, last one. OSU’s RB room has a lot of potential but which rusher has the highest ceiling long-term?

Scott: Long term, you probably say Richardson because he is the only young buck of the group. But I will say I’m excited for the LD year. He has stuck it out through Chris Carson, Justice Hill and Chuba Hubbard. He’s been a part of like 30 “running back by committee” groups, and now it finally looks like his time to at least be the featured back of a committee group.

Boone: I am very high on Richardson but there’s been a lot of scuttlebutt that Utah State transfer Jaylen Warren is commanding a ton of attention as a potential difference-making addition. So, I’m going to go with him. He’s a 5-8, 215-pound bowling ball who I think can be a feature back if healthy.

Cox: I too am pretty excited about Dom Richardson. I don’t care how bad Baylor was last year. But I agree, I think LD came back for a reason and he could be in for a huge year.

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