Ohio State Football: Under-the-Radar Players Worth Watching Saturday Against Cal

Ben Layman@@houtexmajorinCorrespondent ISeptember 12, 2012

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 8:  Travis Howard #7 of the Ohio State Buckeyes is called for pass interference while defending Storm Johnson #8 of the Central Florida Knights on September 8, 2012 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

The Ohio State Buckeyes have started the season the way their fans hoped they would.  The team is 2-0, and Urban Meyer seems to have the program headed in the right direction.

The competition became a little tougher last week against the Central Florida Knights, but the Buckeyes still managed to come away with a victory in relatively easy fashion.

The Buckeyes take on the Cal Golden Bears this weekend, as the competition gets tougher yet again for Ohio State.

Here are a few under-the-radar players worth watching Saturday.


Johnathan Hankins

The future first-round defensive tackle has gone under-the-radar to start the year, but it won't remain that way for long.  It's only a matter of time before the future NFL star has a breakout game that will make him one of college football's household names.

Ohio State's fans are well-aware of the stout interior defensive lineman.  The rest of the country should get to know the defensive tackle as the season goes on, and Saturday's game against an average Cal interior offensive line could be his breakout moment of 2012.


Bri'onte Dunn

Ohio State's starting tailback Carlos Hyde will miss this week's game after suffering a sprained MCL against Central Florida.  The next tailback on the depth chart, Bri'onte Dunn, should be relied on to handle the majority of the rushing duties.  The Buckeyes will use their other running backs as well, and that should only help Dunn stay fresh for four quarters.

Urban Meyer hopes Dunn and his other running backs will answer the call Saturday.  He spoke about the challenge to the AP's Andy Lefkowitz via Yahoo!:

"Those kids are talented, so it's not like we have a bad player back there," he said. "We just need to look in those guys' eyes. It's the psychological approach to coaching now, with those two young players. Who can handle it? You're the starting tailback, now let's go see how you do."

Meyer will look to use his running game often Saturday to run the clock and keep Cal's offense off the field.  Ohio State fans shouldn't expect to see the Buckeyes abandon the run.


Travis Howard

The redshirt senior cornerback has three interceptions through Ohio State's first two games, and appears to be on his way to having a huge year.

Howard will face his toughest assignment all year when he'll be asked to cover Cal's star wide receiver, Keenan Allen.

Howard has surprised fans with his emergence this year.  He credits his success to Ohio State's coaching staff.  Howard spoke to Patrick Maks of TheLantern.com about the coaching staff:

"When Urban Meyer came in, he brought his staff in, everybody kind of welcomed me in right and got after me and didn’t let me slack off."

Howard has responded to the coaching so far.  The senior corner will be tested in a big way Saturday, and Ohio State fans hope he maintains this level of play.


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