Signee draws flattering comparison

Dontre Wilson has track speed, but OSU's coaches like his ability to change direction with it. AP Photo/Damen Jackson via Triple Play New Media

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The breakdown of track times offered a hint.

The glowing reviews of Dontre Wilson’s ability to use that speed in more than just a straight line brought the conversation a little closer.

Even when Ohio State coaches brought up the dual-purpose statistics the dynamic playmaker piled up as a receiver and a rusher, they weren’t all the way there yet.

But finally Urban Meyer slipped in the name that truly confirmed the role he sees the prized recruit playing in his spread offense, casually dropping in a reference to the guy who made it famous and making it obvious why Wilson was worth so much effort after initially committing to Oregon.

“That’s a very unusual athlete,” Meyer said. “He can go inside or outside. I see him being a potential dual-threat, hybrid.

“That term became kind of famous back when Percy [Harvin]started and there was the ‘Percy’ [position] name and all that.”

The search for a replacement has been on ever since the athlete at the top of the list of most impressive runners Meyer has coached headed to the NFL, and in his first season with the Buckeyes, that Pivot position was effectively left vacant.

Ohio State didn’t exactly have trouble putting up points and wound up leading the Big Ten in scoring on the way to its perfect record, but the coaching staff certainly felt there was a piece missing that could help push the attack over the top. Wilson might not be truly ready for comparisons to Harvin yet, but the former apparently reminded Meyer enough of the latter to dispatch the troops down to Texas and turn him into one of the marquee showpieces on Wednesday’s national signing day for the No. 3 class in the country.

“Very dynamic athlete,” running backs coach Stan Drayton said. “You sit there and look at his track times, I mean, his track times are national times. He can be a collegiate track athlete and be an All-American. I mean, he’s that fast.

“But he’s also a kid who can put his foot in the ground and change direction, and that’s what Urban Meyer was talking about, bringing a unique quality to that speed and changing direction. We’re so excited to have him in this system, because that’s probably, arguably, one of the missing pieces to the puzzle that we were looking for to complete this spread-type of philosophy that we run here.”

That’s obviously the same approach Drayton helped Meyer operate back in Florida, and he wasn’t shy about drawing comparisons to Harvin either.

Without a doubt, those are big shoes to fill. But for an offense already bringing back nine starters, with leading rusher Carlos Hyde and to receiver Corey "Philly" Brown among them, Ohio State might not really need Wilson to do a full-on Harvin impression right away.

But he at least performed one well enough in high school to catch the eye of two guys who wouldn’t have any problem recognizing it.

“[Harvin] was an athlete who played primarily receiver coming out of high school, but again, was able to bring a skill set to the running back position when that position got deficient,” Drayton said. “At the end of the day, [Wilson] brings the skill set, but he brings the depth at two positions, and that’s what makes him unique.

“He brings it all to the table.”

Now the Buckeyes have it set for him to potentially follow in some fast footsteps.