3 Underclassmen Ohio State Fans Need to Watch in 2020

The Ohio State Buckeyes will be looking to compete for another national title, which will provide the chance for underclassmen to step up.
The Ohio State Buckeyes will be looking to compete for another national title, which will provide the chance for underclassmen to step up. | Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

In a year that included a Big Ten championship and an undefeated regular season, the Ohio State Buckeyes ultimately ended the campaign in disappointing fashion, losing to the Clemson Tigers in the College Football Playoff Semifinal after quarterback Justin Fields threw an interception to seal the defeat.

Despite the unceremonious end to the 2019 season, the Buckeyes will have another shot to win a title and fans should be looking at these young players to come into their own in 2020.

3. Zach Harrison

Defensive end Zach Harrison played limited snaps last season, and will look to take on a bigger role in 2020.
Defensive end Zach Harrison played limited snaps last season, and will look to take on a bigger role in 2020. | Ralph Freso/Getty Images

The former 5-star defensive end recruit from Columbus was able to play as a true freshman last season for his hometown Buckeyes. Although Harrison did not put up sensational numbers, he briefly showed what the hype was all about. As the season progressed and Harrison developed into a college level player, he flashed some great potential late in the season. Against Penn State, Harrison recorded a career-high four total tackles, and then recorded his third sack of the season against Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship game. Harrison held his own as a true freshman, which is certainly impressive given the talent on the Buckeyes defensive line. He'll have the opportunity to fully prove his 5-star rating in 2020.

2. Marcus Crowley

Running back Marcus Crowley was sidelined by an injury, but could shock some people in 2020 if he makes a full recovery.
Running back Marcus Crowley was sidelined by an injury, but could shock some people in 2020 if he makes a full recovery. | Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

With the departure of former running back J.K. Dobbins to the Baltimore Ravens, Ohio State will be looking for a running back to step up in 2020. Crowley was able to get playing time as a true freshman during the 2019 season, but suffered a serious knee injury against Maryland in November. Before the injury, Crowley flashed some high-level skill, rattling off a 36-yard long run early in the season against Nebraska and then a 53-yarder against Northwestern. Even in the game he got injured, he rushed for 82 yards and his first-ever touchdown. Crowley had limited carries due to Dobbins being the feature back, but the youngster made things happen when he got his hands on the ball. Due to his knee injury, Crowley has not been able to partake in any workouts or football-related activities since that game against Maryland. If he's able to make a full recovery for the 2020 season, he could surprise some people in a much less competitive backfield that also includes Master Teague coming off an injury.

1. Nicholas Petit-Frere

Offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere has yet to win a starting job, but that could change this upcoming season.
Offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere has yet to win a starting job, but that could change this upcoming season. | Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

After taking a redshirt year in 2018, Ohio State offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere showed why he was one of the crowned jewels of the Buckeyes' 2018 recruiting class. Although he lost out on the right tackle job to Branden Bowen, Petit-Frere still got the opportunity to come in and play as a sixth lineman, then got reps as a starter due to an injury. While he hasn't fully lived up to his 5-star potential quite yet, Ohio State consistently has some of the best offensive linemen in the country, so the coaching staff could very well unlock his potential. In fact, Bowen, the tackle beat Petit-Frere for the starting job before the 2019 season, spent five years with the program and was then signed by the Carolina Panthers. Petit-Frere will continue to have some competition for the right tackle spot in 2020 with 5-star true freshman Paris Johnson Jr. coming into the mix, but with two years of experience under his belt, Petit-Frere could finally become a fixture on the Buckeyes' offensive line.