Ohio State Football: Players Who'll Carry Buckeyes in 2012
Football is a team sport, but the Ohio State Buckeyes will rely on a few key leaders to carry them to victory in 2012.
They have a long way to go to become a respectable program after finishing 2011 with a disappointing 6-7 record. It was a long, arduous season among the wreckage of the recent scandal where many of the Buckeyes' players received money and tattoos in exchange for jerseys, rings and other various memorabilia (h/t ESPN.com).
Landing Urban Meyer will surely help to revive the struggling program, but it's up to the players to make things happen on the field.
Here are the top players who will carry the Buckeyes in 2012.
Braxton Miller, QB
Last year was an up-and-down year for Miller, especially in the beginning of the season. Thankfully, he started making vast improvements toward the end of the year, and there's plenty of hope he will continue to improve in 2012.
He is a true two-way threat and can destroy opposing defenses with his arm and his legs.
It's going to be fun to watch how Meyer develops this young man. He's had tremendous success in the past with athletic players like Alex Smith and Tim Tebow, and he is a master at getting the most out of the talents of his quarterbacks.
Miller is a natural leader. He isn't going to blow anyone away with the kind of over-the-top demonstrative style of Tebow, but he brings a quiet sense of confidence into the huddle with him that his teammates feed off of in big ways.
One of the reasons I'm excited for Miller and the Buckeyes offense is that Meyer is always pushing them to get better, no matter how well they're already playing. Miller had some excellent moments at their spring game, but the coach didn't hold back his criticism.
Via The Lantern, Meyer graded his young quarterback:
He gave Miller’s release an "A," his arm strength a "B" and his accuracy a "C" to a "B." But he said he was “very critical” and graded his guys compared to some of his previous players that were taken in the first round of the NFL Draft.
With a taskmaster like that driving the team, you can bet Miller and the team will continue getting better as the summer wears on.
John Simon, DT
The success of the Buckeyes' defense is going to start and finish with Simon, a junior defensive tackle who made CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman's "The Freak List."
Football is a game won or lost in the trenches, and Simon is the beastliest, most intense, hardest working and highest-motor guy in the nation.
Meyer talked about his approach to the weight room: "Donald Duck could be the strength coach if John Simon were the only guy in the weight room."
Simon is driven to be the best. His leadership in the weight room and on the field will carry over to his teammates, and I expect the Buckeyes to have a dominant defense in 2012 as a result.
Michael Thomas, WR
Thomas is an early-entry freshman who's caught the eye of his head coach after catching a ton of Miller's passes in the spring game—12 for 131 yards to be exact.
The Lantern reports Meyer called Thomas OSU’s “most dedicated receiver right now."
He should still be getting ready for his high school prom and graduation and all that. Right now, him and (rising junior Philly Brown) are kind of separated. They’re kind of the top two (receivers).
After losing DeVier Posey to the NFL, the Buckeyes needed someone to step up. Apparently, Thomas is the man for the job, and if he's this good as a true freshman I can't wait to see how good he'll be in two more years.
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