After Elliott chose to go to enter the NFL draft last winter, the greater need would seem to be in the backfield again this fall. But then a trio of receivers left school early, too, so lots of jobs are open.
So the 5-11, 197-pound Samuel is preparing to play all over the place.
“Every day I switch between playing running back and receiver just to make sure I’m 100-percent confident in everything I’m doing out on the field,” he said.
Juggling multiple roles is something veterans find easier than youngsters.
“Yeah, as a junior you understand the offense a little bit more so everything slows down in your head,” Samuel said. “As a freshman and a sophomore, sometimes things can move too fast for you and you can’t pick up on things or you just focus on making sure you do the right thing all the time.
“But as a junior you just do what you need to do.”
Just what Ohio State needs Samuel to do is not entirely clear yet, and it might not be until a few games have been played.
He and senior Dontre Wilson give Ohio State two experienced players for the slot, but there are several young players champing at the bit for playing time who could also fill that role.
Many in and around the program are excited about the potential of Mike Weber in the backfield, but how large a role he can handle as a redshirt freshman remains to be seen. His next play in a real college game will be his first.
Samuel plans to have the Buckeyes covered either way.