Ohio State Football: Young Studs Who Will Dominate Big Ten Opponents
It really is a shame that Ohio State is ineligible to compete for the Big Ten championship in 2012, because while they would not be favored, they are more than talented enough to win it. After a lackluster 2011 campaign that sparked a youth movement of sorts in Columbus, new head coach Urban Meyer is inheriting a roster that not only has big game experience, but seems primed to take a step towards competing for Rose Bowl bids again.
That being said, the 2012 Buckeyes will be relying heavily upon some younger contributors in order to help them vault back into the national spotlight.
Let's take a look at three youngsters, not named Braxton Miller or Ryan Shazier, that could have a big impact on OSU's success this coming season.
Bradley Roby (CB, rSo.)
As a redshirt freshman last season, Bradley Roby turned out to be the team's best cover cornerback. He picked off three passes, while defending six others. Roby displayed elite instincts and always seemed to have a knack for making plays on the ball.
Furthermore, Roby is extremely influential in the run game as well. A year ago, he recorded 3.5 tackles for a loss, and came out with 47 tackles on the season. If Roby builds on his freshman campaign, we may see him transform into one of the Big Ten's finest corners.
Michael Thomas (WR, Fr)
This Spring, as a true freshman, Michael Thomas burst onto the scene to record 12 catches for 131 yards in the Buckeyes spring scrimmage. Athletically, he looked as good as any other wideout on the roster.
It may not be prudent to put astronomical statistical expectations on Thomas' production this season. It's entirely possible that he starts the year on the bench without seeing much action, and then transitions his way into the lineup as the Buckeyes' season progresses. However, do not be surprised if he becomes a household name by year's end.
Devin Smith (WR, So.)
If not for some poor quarterback play last season, Devin Smith could have had a breakout year. Not only does he have all the physical tools to be successful in the Big Ten, but he has an uncanny ability to come down with the ball in a crowd of defenders.
Smith's big play threat could prove to be deadly this season. However, his speed makes him a guy that has to be accounted for at all times. Smith is a rare talent in a sense that he does not need the ball in his hands to make the offense run more efficiently. If he continues to run down the field and stretch the defense, the middle of the field will open up for his teammates.
That's what Devin Smith does, so look for him, among others, to give fits to other Big Ten opponents in 2012.
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