Ohio State Football: What You Need to Know About Buckeyes' LB Etienne Sabino

Tim BielikSenior Analyst IJuly 22, 2012

Oct 15, 2011; Champaign, IL, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini running back Donovonn Young (5) is tackled by Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Etienne Sabino (6) during the third quarter at Memorial Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE

Among the returning starters on the Ohio State defense, the one with the most left to prove is senior Etienne Sabino.

Sabino came to Ohio State in 2008 as part of the famed Brew Crew class that featured a mix of talented players as well as busts that never quite lived up to their hype.

Even now heading into his senior season, Sabino has not lived up to the expectations he had coming in as a 5-star prospect on Scout.com's rankings.

He finally got his chance to start at middle linebacker last season, but looked very inconsistent at times, racking up lots of tackles in a game followed by moments where he looked stiff and slow.

Sabino started to play a little better towards the end of the season, and will start his senior season opposite Ryan Shazier in the linebacking corps, with sophomore Curtis Grant starting in Sabino's old spot at MLB.

In preparation for his senior season, Sabino has dropped some weight, which should allow him to play faster; the position change should allow him to play more loose and with less responsibility other than to let the athlete in him loose

Sabino should have a lot of additional motivation this season not only playing for Urban Meyer under a bigger microscope, but also because this is his last chance. He really hasn't made much of a mark and to this point has been a huge disappointment since his arrival at OSU.

On the other hand, that doesn't mean he should try to overdo things, because that might not help his stock much either.

He just needs to play fast and loose, the way Meyer wants his players to be on the field.

Sabino will travel with Meyer to the Big Ten Media Days as one of the team's senior representatives along with John Simon, a sign that Meyer trusts Sabino to be one of his on-field leaders and possibly a captain.

He does have a decent amount of experience at this point, but he just needs to become a much looser player on the field.

If he can do that, he will be a solid player on the defense. And on this defense, solid is all he needs to be.


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