Ohio State Football: 5 Players That Will Make or Break the 2012 Campaign
The Ohio State Buckeyes are ineligible to play in a bowl game following the 2012 season, but that doesn't mean one of college football's most storied programs won't attempt to regain their supremacy over the Big Ten this fall.
With Urban Meyer now at the helm, fans in Columbus are expecting great things for the Buckeyes after the NCAA ban is complete.
This year, OSU will be playing for pride and won't stand down to anyone, especially after a disappointing 6-7 season in 2011.
These five guys will make or break their 2012 campaign.
John Simon, DE
John Simon is the most established returnee on a defensive line that struggled in 2011. While the team allowed just 23 sacks, Simon accounted for seven of them along with 16 tackles for loss.
While his non-stop motor is clear on every play, his immense strength and the way he plays with great leverage is just as evident.
If he can emerge as one of the best pass-rushers in the nation, the Buckeyes will have their true anchor on defense.
At 6'2'' and 260 pounds, Simon is somewhat of a hybrid edge-rusher, ideal for Meyer's attacking defensive scheme.
With many teams utilizing spread offenses, having a superb pass-rusher is a must.
Jordan Hall, RB/WR
Remember how Meyer utilized the speedy and ultra-elusive Percy Harvin at Florida?
Expect to see the same with Jordan Hall this season.
He was the team's primary kick returner over the last two years, and enjoyed some success on offense in 2011 with five total touchdowns.
At 5'9'' and 198, this tremendous athlete will be used in slip screens, bubble screens insides screens—essentially any play that gets him in space.
If he uses his pure athleticism and vision to become a playmaker on the outside, the Ohio State offense will operate much more smoothly than many initially believe.
Carlos Hyde, RB
While the Buckeyes will run a spread system under Meyer for the foreseeable future, they'd be foolish to ignore the talent and menacing size of the 6'0'', 235-pound Hyde.
He averaged 5.3 yards per carry and scored six rushing touchdowns while sharing touches out of Ohio State's backfield.
The junior tailback runs a lot like former OSU great Beanie Wells, a true punishing back with surprising acceleration.
If he can provide the bruising runs on first and second down, the defenses will bite harder on play-action when Miller needs it most.
Also, he's the perfect complement to the speedy Hall.
Jack Mewhort, LT
Mewhort is a returning starter on the offensive line, but he's changing positions.
He manned the left guard spot in 2011, but will take over Mike Adams' ever important position at left tackle.
At 6'6'' and 310 pounds, the junior from Toledo, Ohio undoubtedly has the size and frame to man the spot, but it'll could be a slow transition from guard to tackle.
He must perform admirably despite Miller's scrambling ability.
The Buckeyes allowed a Big Ten worst 46 sacks in 2011.
Braxton Miller, QB
Clearly, the fate of the 2012 season rests on the shoulder pads of quarterback Braxton Miller.
After taking over for Joe Bauserman last year, Miller flashed moments of his limitless potential, but was far from consistent.
He completed a shade over 54 percent of his passes, three 13 touchdowns to only four interceptions.
However, this season's receiving corps is probably the least intimidating group the Buckeyes have fielded in a decade.
In 2011, the team's three most productive receivers tied with a mere 14 receptions. DeVier Posey is in the NFL, so Devin Smith, Corey Brown and Jake Stoneburner must step up.
Back to Miller.
He has to harness his running ability and improve as a passer first, especially in the accuracy department. The sophomore will get ample opportunities to run the football in Meyer's spread, but he'll need to be a much more reliable passer.