Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller is the face of the Buckeyes football program after a remarkable first two seasons in Columbus, and he'll return even better as a junior in 2013.
Still, Urban Meyer will have his work cut out for him again next season, as he attempts to remain unblemished at Ohio State despite moving forward without many of the players who keyed the Buckeyes to their perfect 12-0 finish in 2012. The good news is that he'll have some solid returners to build around.
Let's a take a look at a trio of returning Buckeyes who will shine for Ohio State in 2013.
Ryan Shazier, LB
Linebacker Ryan Shazier will return as a junior for Ohio State in 2013, and that has to excite head coach Urban Meyer. Shazier led the Buckeyes in tackles this past season, recording 114 in 12 games. He also finished second on the team in sacks, tallying five.
In 2012, he recorded 11 or more tackles in six games, proving to be a tone-setting player for the Buckeyes defensively.
But the 6'2", 225-pound stud out of Florida isn't just a traditional run-stopping linebacker. Shazier is a playmaker in the middle of Ohio State's defense, evidenced by his pick-six against Penn State in October and this bone-crushing hit against Cal last September.
Shazier will provide Meyer with a solid pillar to build around on defense in 2013.
Devin Smith, WR
Sophomore wide receiver Devin Smith was a pleasant surprise for the Buckeyes in 2012, catching 30 balls for 618 yards (a tremendous 20.6 yards per reception). Only three other wide receivers in college football had a higher yards per reception average than Smith in 2012.
The wideout also caught six touchdowns and surpassed 100 yards receiving in two games against Cal and Indiana.
With quarterback Braxton Miller sure to improve as a passer this offseason, expect Smith's production to increase even more in 2013, as he becomes targeted more often downfield.
Smith clearly has the talent to become Ohio State's next great wideout; just look at the above one-handed gem against Miami (OH) this past season.
Bradley Roby, DB
Play-making defensive back Bradley Roby will return to Columbus as a junior next season and will have to take over a leadership role in the secondary following the departure of senior cornerback Travis Howard.
Roby picked off two passes in 2012, adding to the three he already had from 2011 as a freshman. The Georgia native also scored three touchdowns this past season, scoring on a pick-six, a fumble return and a punt return.
A very solid player and a sure tackler, Roby will no doubt become the star in the Buckeyes secondary in 2013.
At 5'11", 190 pounds, he has all the physical attributes required to become a shutdown corner and a premiere player for Ohio State's defense next season.
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