Ohio State Football 2012: 6 Players Ohio State Needs To Step Up
Ohio State won't be able to go to the postseason in 2012, but that is no reason to throw the season away.
If new coach Urban Meyer can make strides next year, that will greatly improve their chances for success in 2013. If they can go into the season after next with a "can-do" attitude after a productive 2012, it will greatly improve their ability to compete for a conference and possibly national title.
Meyer started off his career at Ohio State with a great 2012 recruiting class, with five commits from the ESPNU 150. Meyer has already given many Buckeye fans hope for the future.
But in order to continue that success and carry that momentum during this upcoming season, some players on this Buckeyes team are going to need to give Meyer some help for him to start off with a good season.
These players' production can directly correlate into Ohio State's 2012 success.
Senior LB Etienne Sabino
After redshirting his junior season, Sabino came back in 2011 to fill a full-time starting role and be a key contributor. 2011 was not exactly that season.
While he did have a career-high year in tackles (62), his name didn't pop up at the right times and he hasn't always been there for Ohio State when they needed him. All that said, he finished 2011 with a strong performance in the Gator Bowl.
He was the No. 2 recruit for the class of 2008 coming out of high school and doesn't play the pass well, but he is a hard hitter and can make plays all over the field.
After his only real season of playing time, Sabino looks like he could make a difference for a defense that is returning virtually everybody.
If Sabino can take his game to the next level, he will greatly help Meyer in his first season in Columbus.
We also should mention that this will be his last year. However, just achieving success in 2012 after the tumultuous 2011 will be important for a team that took a step back, and Sabino can help lead the youngsters.
Senior Linebacker Storm Klein
A four-year starter in high school, Storm Klein maybe hasn't seen the field as much as he expected he would for the Scarlet and Grey.
2011 was his first year of real action as a Buckeye, and it wasn't bad: He posted 45 tackles and even snagged an interception.
In 2012, Klein will be a senior leader after spending a lot of time looking up to guys like Brian Rolle and Ross Homan.
The 6'2", 240-pound Klein is a tough player and has potential in 2011 to be a contributor on a defense that finished 27th in points against.
Klein's frame makes him a beast and he can chip in just about everywhere.
If he can live up to his potential in his final season, he can aid a young Buckeyes team and a program that has had a rough year.
Senior Tight End Jake Stoneburner
Stoneburner has always been a great talent for Ohio State, but he hasn't always been there.
In 2010, he emerged as a secret weapon with great hands. 2011 was supposed to be the year we saw him blossom into one of the Buckeyes' main pass-catchers.
While we did see his touchdown total triple (he got a lot of looks in the red zone), he took a step back in yards, and against the tougher opponents, his presence was not felt.
Some of this can be attributed to the extra-ridiculously conservative play-calling, though.
With coach Meyer implementing his much more explosive offense, the athletic Stoneburner is sure to be more involved. He will need to be there for this team as one of few seniors on this team.
If Stoneburner can contribute often in 2012, this Buckeyes offense—which was more dull than watching paint dry—can develop more quickly.
Sophomore Quarterback Braxton Miller
In his freshmen season, Miller accounted for almost 1,900 yards and 20 touchdowns.
For most quarterbacks, that might not be an incredible season, but let's consider what he was up against.
He had to split time early on, was leading a program recently decimated by suspensions and was playing in a system that didn't always play to his athletic strengths. He was not in an advantageous situation and you have to give him credit for how well he fought through the season with confidence.
That said, Miller has room for improvement.
The youngster had some trouble knowing when to get rid of the ball to avoid a sack and his decision-making was like that of a freshman. All that is to be expected, though, and now Miller has to be able to point out his weaknesses and improve on them for next season.
Miller was restricted last season, getting to throw the ball more than 20 times in only two games—in which he combined for 397 yards and four touchdowns—and that will change in 2012.
The only question that remains is if he can stay on this path in which he seems to be headed for success. Most of the players on this list, the Buckeyes can still get by in some manner if they don't live up to standards. In the case of Miller, it's all about him; his production will directly correlate into Ohio State's success.
Junior Wideout Corey Brown
At Florida, Meyer had Percy Harvin to play a dual-threat wide receiver/halfback position. Meyer will most likely look to Brown to fill that role.
A true athlete, the Upper Darby, PA native has great speed, is elusive and even played running back in high school before converting to a wide-receiver; it looks like he could play both in 2012. He could stand to gain some bulk, but the All-America sprinter definitely should be able to fill the role.
Brown was slowed down by injury last season and durability has been one of the chief concerns about this kid since he came to school. In some of the bigger games that he got into, though, he was able to come up with some nice catches.
Brown should greatly benefit from Meyer's system and in a receiving corps with no legitimate leader, he can emerge as a top threat.
If Brown can contribute on an offense that will work for him, the Buckeyes may finally get to see some offense they haven't in a while and Meyer will be off and running.
Just About the Whole Offensive Line
I won't sugarcoat it: This is a young and pretty inexperienced offensive line.
Andrew Norwell and Jack Mewhort got to spend a year starting on the offensive line last year and that will greatly benefit this unit which will be quite youthful.
That said, one season of experience helps, but it's not an incredible amount. The rest of this line will also be playing first-year starters.
Brian Bobek will be taking Mike Brewster's spot as the anchor on this line, and Marcus Hall and Corey Linsley will replace J.B. Shugarts and Mike Adams on the edges.
The common theme with all three of those newbies is that they are all on the small side, but they are athletic with quick feet and great toughness. With a lot of movement in Meyer's spread system, athleticism will come in handy.
As we all know, an offensive line needs experience. This group will experience some growing pains, but if they can progress over the course of the season, the Buckeyes offense will flourish and this team can take momentum from 2012 into 2013.
**Note** A lot of these exact positions may change over the course of spring ball and summer practice, but the underlying theme remains constant: this unit is young.