If there’s one word to define an Urban Meyer offense, it’s speed. Since being hired at Ohio State in 2012, the Buckeye offense under Meyer has finished the season twice ranked in the top 10. However, through many different players, Meyer has been attempting to reincarnate one of his greatest weapons from his time at the University of Florida.
Former Florida Gator and NFL wide receiver Percy Harvin won two national championships for Meyer, alongside Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, and was the No. 1 playmaker for Meyer for the better part of two seasons.
From Dontre Wilson in 2013, Jalin Marshall in 2014 and Braxton Miller in 2015, Meyer might have finally found his next Percy Harvin in junior H-back Curtis Samuel.
And frankly, Samuel might be better. Meyer said on Tuesday’s Big Ten coaches’ teleconference that he believes Samuel should be in the Heisman Trophy discussion with his performance through the first four games.
“I think it’s a little harder for those positions to get it, in H-back,” Meyer said. “But he’s certainly having that kind of year that he should be in the conversation.”
The last time Meyer had two players in the Heisman race was with Tebow and Harvin in 2008. In Harvin’s 2007 sophomore campaign, he exploded for 764 yards and six touchdowns rushing, and 858 yards and four touchdowns receiving. The next season, before he declared early for the NFL, Harvin finished with 1,304 total yards and 17 touchdowns.
While Samuel has eight games left in the regular season to rack up those numbers, he’s already on pace to surpass Harvin’s junior-year stats.
Samuel has 673 total yards and five touchdowns through four games this season, compared to Harvin’s 461 total yards and five touchdowns through his first four games in 2008. To be fair, Samuel has had 18 more touches than Harvin did at this point, but the two are nearly identical in average yards per touch.
Harvin was all over the field for Meyer back at Florida, much like Samuel. But unlike Harvin, and Buckeyes in the past Meyer tried to put into the role, Samuel has shown the ability to run between the tackles. Redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett is fairly similar to Tebow in his ability to takeover a game almost at will. Albeit in different styles, Tebow went to Harvin often, just like Barrett’s trust in Samuel.
Meyer has always put trust into his quarterbacks and his playmakers, but what makes Samuel even more impressive when comparing him to Harvin is that OSU has a legitimate 1,000-yard running back in redshirt freshman Mike Weber.
After the first game against Bowling Green, Weber and Samuel combined for 220 yards rushing, prompting Weber to equate the backfield duo to Lendale White and Reggie Bush, who accounted for an asstounding 3,042 rushing in 2005.
At the time, it sounded ridiculous, but could it really happen? Could Weber and Samuel somehow be this good, and could Samuel be in the Heisman Trophy race?
Statistically speaking, yes, both of those could happen. However, Harvin, Bush and White all performed at high levels for more than one season. For now, Samuel still has to live up to the expectations of following Braxton Miller and every other player to be named Meyer’s No. 1 playmaker.
“I feel like both at receiver and at running back (I’m best utilized),” Samuel said. “I can be at running back and go against a linebacker, which is a mismatch, or I can go to receiver and be against a corner or safety, which I feel is still a mismatch.”