Ohio State Football: 10 Players with the Most Work to Do This Summer
For most, summer is a time for fun, vacation and relaxation, but for these certain players, it will be a time of rigorous work and hopefully, improvement. Last year's Buckeyes were extremely far from perfect and were honestly one of the worst Ohio State teams in the past 10 years.
Luckily, Urban Meyer looks to have things heading in the right direction, but the new head coach is no miracle worker, and if the Buckeyes are going to return to their old ways, a few players are going to have to improve before the season begins.
Here's to hoping they really bring it this summer and take the field ready to make a major difference.
OT Reid Fragel
Reid Fragel has already been working extremely hard this offseason, but it looks like the senior isn't quite there yet. The former tight end did an excellent job of bulking up in the past few months, and although he was an excellent blocking tight end, the new tackle has struggled in the pass-blocking area.
Due to his rough transition to his new position, freshman, Taylor Decker has been hot on his heels for the starting right tackle job. The Buckeyes desperately need a solid and reliable offensive line, and in order to have this, Fragel must step up this summer and win the right tackle job outright.
QB Braxton Miller
Although Miller is in no danger of losing his starting job and is probably the best offensive player on the entire team, he still has plenty of work to do this offseason. This offense will go as far as Miller will take them, and if the Buckeyes want to win a lot of games in 2012, Miller better be tenaciously working.
The sophomore QB still has a lot of room for improvement in the passing game and could use a little more bulk before the opening kickoff. This being said, the majority of Miller's work in the summer will be mental. Throughout the summer, Miller should be pouring over the playbook in order to completely master Meyer's new system and put points on the board in 2012.
RB Jordan Hall
Unfortunately, Buckeye Nation has only seen glimpses of Jordan Hall's greatness. The elusive back has showed potential to be a major game-changer, but hasn't put together a consistent season as of yet.
Hall will certainly have plenty of responsibility in Meyer's new offense as he takes on the "Percy Harvin role," and he better be ready. The Buckeyes offense is in desperate need of some playmakers, and Hall will be looked to early and often in 2012.
WR Devin Smith
With a couple of touchdown grabs, a strong connection with Braxton Miller and easily the biggest catch of the season, Devin Smith certainly showed some potential in his first season in Columbus. The sophomore WR must follow this decent debut with a big second year. The Buckeyes offense is extremely desperate for a playmaker at the wide receiver position, and Smith could be their guy.
Throughout this summer, Smith must bulk up in order to get off the line with more ease and to avoid getting out-muscled by bigger or older defensive backs. Along with this, the young wideout must also improve his route-running skills, as he struggled to get open at times last season.
TE Jake Stoneburner
Jake Stoneburner offers a rare combination of size and athleticism that could make him a matchup nightmare for opposing coaches. Pair this with a new offensive coaching staff that will actually use him, and you could have a formula for success.
However, this success doesn't come without hard work. Stoneburner must master the playbook and work to adjust to his new role in the offense. The redshirt senior will be asked to do a lot of different things in Meyer's new offense, so he must work on his versatility in order to fully tap into his unending potential.
DT Michael Bennett
Despite an excellent spring, Bennett still has plenty of work to do this summer. The sophomore wasn't listed as a starter on Meyer's post-spring depth chart, and while this really isn't a major deal, Bennett must continue to rigorously work.
Bennett is easily the third-most talented defensive lineman on a stacked defensive front, and with a little more work, he could push himself into the starting lineup and really give the Buckeyes some ridiculous depth at the defensive front.
OLB Etienne Sabino
Although Sabino performed decently in 2011, the senior linebacker has failed to meet our lofty expectations. Sabino came into OSU as the top linebacker in his class, and if he wants to perform at this level, he must improve this summer.
Last year's linebacker corps was unusually bad, and certainly disappointing for fans who are used to fielding great linebackers. In order for the Buckeyes to really succeed in 2012, they must receive a better effort from their linebackers, and this all starts with the senior, Etienne Sabino.
MLB Curtis Grant
That's right; last year's linebacker corps was so uncommonly bad that two LB's are being listed in this slideshow.
Like his teammate, Etienne Sabino, Grant was the top linebacker in his recruiting class, and even one of the top players overall that year. The sophomore didn't see the field much away from special teams in his first season at Ohio State, but has won the middle linebacker spot in spring.
Grant's physical attributes have never really been the problem. In his first year, he struggled greatly to pick up the more complex college defense, so it is obvious what he should be doing this summer: hitting the playbook hard. If Grant is able to fully grasp the defensive system before the opening kickoff, he will definitely help heal the woes that existed at linebacker last season.
S Christian Bryant
Let me start this slide off by saying that I think Bryant is a great player and an impactful playmaker for this defense. He flies to the ball, and sometimes, the risks he takes pay off and ignite the defense.
This being said, Bryant needs to learn when to take these risks. Like many other players in this slideshow, most of the work the junior DB must do this summer will be mental. The more in tune Bryant is with the defensive system and the more experienced he plays, the more impact he will make for this defense in 2012.
CB Travis Howard
Coming into the 2011 season, many people expected Travis Howard to emerge as the next shutdown corner at Ohio State. Unfortunately, this hasn't materialized, and Howard has been mostly a disappointment.
Howard has the perfect size to dominate opposing wideouts, but for some reason, he hasn't managed to really solidify himself as a shutdown cover-man. After the release of the post-spring depth charts, Howard was listed as a co-starter with Doran Grant. This certainly raised some eyebrows, and the fact that Doran Grant (even though he's a solid player) is threatening Howard is quite alarming. Whatever it is that Howard must do to emerge as a reliable starter he better do this summer because the Buckeyes need to be able to rely on him on a weekly basis.