Ohio State Football: 5 Most Indispensable Buckeyes for the 2012 Season
Every team has that one player or group of players that makes life a little easier (sometimes they simply cannot succeed without them).
Ohio State is no different, as they have a great collection of talent that can help them win some tough games this year.
Whether they be young players with loads of upside, or grizzled veterans that lead the team and just make big play after big play, who are the players that the Buckeyes need to be successful this season?
Let's run down the top five candidates.
5. CB Bradley Roby
Eric Francis/Getty Images
Ohio State has had a history of stud corners, even in recent years with strong performers like Chimdi Chekwa and Malcolm Jenkins.
The next one on the list is third-year sophomore Bradley Roby, who burst onto the scene last season with a great combination of intelligence and speed.
Roby skyrocketed up the depth chart and jumped upperclassmen Travis Howard and Dominic Clarke—who left the team before the spring—to be OSU's No. 1 corner this year.
New coaches Everett Withers and Kerry Coombs are big believers of Roby and hope his technique continues to be his strength.
4. TE Jake Stoneburner
Kirk Irwin/Getty Images
When Ohio State hired Urban Meyer and Tom Herman to help lead the offense, the happiest player on the roster besides QB Braxton Miller had to be senior TE Jake Stoneburner.
Both Meyer and Herman have a history of having their offenses run through tight ends—Aaron Hernandez with Meyer in Florida and James Casey with Herman at Rice.
Stoneburner may be slightly behind the curve because he was not able to work out with the team during the summer following his incident with the law, but it shouldn't be a major concern.
He tied for the team lead in receptions with 14 —no, that's not a misprint—but if things go as they're planned, he should likely exceed that number before Big Ten play starts.
3. DT Johnathan Hankins
Eric Francis/Getty Images
Bradley Roby wasn't the only hidden gem of 2010 recruiting. Johnathan Hankins was only a 3-star prospect out of high school but burst onto the scene quickly in 2010.
Hankins was a very disruptive force as a starter last year, showing some surprising quickness and speed for a player of his size.
Hankins slimmed down a bit going into his junior season with the hopes of becoming a faster and better player.
He has grown quite a bit in terms of his draft stock and could potentially be a first-rounder if he leaves early, but he will need to continue to building off the last two years and shine in the middle of the defense this season.
2. QB Braxton Miller
Scott Halleran/Getty Images
The quarterback is arguably the most important position in sports at any level, and Ohio State will need to see a dramatic growth out of Braxton Miller this year.
Miller struggled to throw the football last season, as evidenced by a passing offense that ranked among the worst in the entire county.
His running ability, however, is elite. As a freshman, he made quite a few experienced Big Ten defenders look foolish with his quickness and ability to make guys miss.
Working with Meyer and Herman should help Miller make some strides as far as learning how to be a better passer, especially putting the elite spin on the ball that made RG3 such a great thrower. These days, it's not always about arm strength, but how well you spin the football.
He had a major problem with that last year, and will need to fix it in order to continue developing the way fans hope he can.
1. DE John Simon
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
John Simon, without question, is the heart and the soul of the football team, and anyone who says otherwise are fooling themselves.
Simon has Tebow-like qualities in the way that he motivates the younger players around him, and he pretty much lives in the weight room, according to his own teammates.
He not only does heavy lifting on his own, he makes sure younger players like Curtis Grant, Ryan Shazier and true freshman DE Noah Spence go with him to the weight room as early as 4:30 a.m, setting a standard and making sure the young guys understand how hard they have to work at this level.
Simon is one of the few players in the game where you can never question his motor. He shows unbelievable relentlessness combined with pure athleticism and strength to make plays.
He is always around the play and leads by example. Simon is basically the type of player every coach wishes he had, and one that Meyer is excited to have leading the 2012 Buckeyes.
Follow me on Twitter @bielik_tim for the latest college football news and updates.