2013 will be a massive year for the Ohio State football program. When the team takes the field for the first time next season, it will have its sights set on a national championship.
This season, that goal was impossible for the Buckeyes due to NCAA sanctions placed on the program.
But in their first season under Urban Meyer, the players showed exceptional resolve and went undefeated in 2012, despite knowing all along it would not be allowed to play in the Big Ten championship or a bowl game.
But next season, it counts. Here are the players who will be continuing the program’s success in 2013.
Braxton Miller, Quarterback
Miller proved in his sophomore season that there is no limit to his potential as a college football quarterback.
Next year, his name will be near the top of the Heisman Trophy watch list.
Miller completed 58.3 percent of his passes this season for 2,039 yards, 15 touchdowns and just six interceptions. He also led the team in rushing with 1,271 yards, a 5.6 yards per carry average and 13 touchdowns.
With his electric playmaking ability, Miller will be the driving force behind the Buckeyes offense. This team will go as far as he can take it in 2013.
Ryan Shazier, Outside Linebacker
While Shazier’s name is not often brought up in conversations about the best defensive players in college football, those who played against him know exactly how talented he is.
The true sophomore led the Buckeyes in tackles by a wide margin with 115 on the season. He also had 17 tackles for a loss, five sacks, 12 passes defended and three forced fumbles.
After such exceptional production as an underclassman, he projects to be a defensive terror next season. He has a chance to improve on these stellar numbers.
Shazier will be a force for the Buckeyes in 2013, and his name will be brought up frequently in national conversations next year.
Bradley Roby, Cornerback
Roby’s impact on the 2013 Buckeyes will start with a major decision he has to make. The talented cornerback red-shirted during his freshman season and is therefore eligible to declare for the upcoming NFL draft.
If he stays, he will be Ohio State’s best defensive back as well as one of the premier shutdown corners in the country. Roby had two interceptions this season and led the team with 19 passes defended.
While he is an exceptionally talented player, this has been his only season in the spotlight. He would certainly improve his draft stock if he were to stay in Columbus for another season and produce similar results.
If he stays with the Buckeyes and plays at a similar level, the team’s defense will have elite talents on multiple levels, and Ohio State will be a serious contender.