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Dontre Wilson is Having an Impact for the Buckeyes Once Again
By Patrick Murphy
 

COLUMBUS – In early November of 2014, Ohio State went up to East Lansing and earned a 49-37 victory over then No. 8 Michigan State. It was a game that announced he Buckeyes as national championship contenders and put the team back in the College Football Playoff conversation after an early season loss.

It was a good day for the Scarlet and Gray, but not as positive for every member of the team.

Early in the fourth quarter, H-back Dontre Wilson, then a sophomore, caught a seven-yard touchdown on an out route and was thrown out of bounds by the Spartan defender. The play resulted in a score and a broken foot for the Texas native.

Two years later and Wilson is still dealing with the injury.

“He broke his foot at Michigan State in that big win we had two years ago,” head coach Urban Meyer said of Wilson. “When you break a foot, it's tough, especially a skilled athlete. So it's been one of injury. He's fighting like crazy. He's still not 100 percent now. He's still dealing with (it), doesn't practice early in the week.”

For Wilson, frustration went beyond his limitations on the field.

“When I first had my injury, I was going through a lot,” he recounted on Monday. “I was going through some stuff with my mother and I just had my child two days after my injury. But yeah, I was going through a lot. That was really frustrating.”

Although Ohio State went on to win the national championship in 2014, Wilson was not a factor. The foot injury carried over into a 2015 season where the H-back recorded a catch in only four games.

Following spring practice, the program sent Wilson to Nike in Oregon in order to get specially made cleats to fit his foot. “Those help a lot,” he said and the difference has been noticeable.

Halfway through his final year as a Buckeye, Wilson has 16 receptions and 13 carries for 338 total yards and four touchdowns. Although he admits he’s not 100 percent, he’s feeling as good as he has in years.

“I always tell myself I’m going to take it week by week and day by day, use all the resources that I can for my final games and final months here and just take advantage of it.”“I’m not 100 percent, but I’m probably 95 percent and I want to stay that way,” Wilson said.

Perhaps the biggest sign that he’s feeling better came in Saturday’s win over another eighth-ranked team in Wisconsin.

With Ohio State trailing by three in the fourth quarter, the Scarlet and Gray needed to get down the field. On second-and-11 from their 36-yard line, quarterback J.T. Barrett dropped back to pass, but saw little open. He scrambled to his right and lofted a pass to an improvising Wilson.

“I was just running a little bubble route and had linebacker on me,” he said of the play. “The play broke down. (J.T.) had great protection up front. I just took off running.”

While Barrett put the pass on the money, Wilson – who hadn’t made a big play since that touchdown catch against Michigan State – still had to haul it in, which he did for a 43-yard gain that set up the game-tying field goal.

“It meant a lot,” Wilson said of that catch. “I didn’t play as well as I wanted to and when we needed it the most, like Coach Meyer says, I made a play that possibly won the game. Yeah, I’m pretty happy about that.”

Wilson was once a highly regarded recruit who generated a lot of hype when he arrived at Ohio State. Through his three and a half years in Columbus, the H-back has not been able to have the impact he hoped.

The Buckeyes’ No. 2 is having an impact now. Some days, it’s catches like Saturday while others it’s doing the little things that often go unnoticed by many but not his head coach.

“I just love his unselfish approach right now and the fact he made a play to help us go win a game,” Meyer said. “He flipped the ball to the official, went back, and almost made another great one to help us. I like where he's at, and he's a team player that's doing the best he can.”

No matter how he's doing it, Wilson continues to help undefeated Ohio State win, looking to be a factor this time around in another potential run to a national championship.

Player profiles relevant to story:
2 - Wilson, Dontre
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