Ohio State Football: Projecting the Buckeyes' 2013 2-Deep Depth Chart
Ohio State's second season under Urban Meyer is the first in a few years where the Buckeyes appear poised to compete for a national championship, which they haven't won since 2003.
The Buckeyes do lose plenty of quality of talent, especially on the defensive side of the football. That means a lot of the young defensive talent Meyer recruited in 2012 will need to fill starting roles.
The OSU offense is loaded with experience with nine starters returning, including potential Heisman candidate Braxton Miller.
How will the depth chart look?
Here's a peek at the likely two-deep going into the 2013 season, with true freshmen italicized.
Starter: Braxton Miller
Backup: Kenny Guiton
It's a given that, barring catastrophic injury, Braxton Miller will start again.
The junior had a breakout season in 2012 and was the catalyst for an OSU offense which finished No. 10 in rushing yards.
Plus, the Buckeyes do have a capable backup in Kenny Guiton, who had significant playing time because Miller had to come off the field several times due to injury.
Starter: Carlos Hyde
Backup: Jordan Hall
Jordan Hall was projected to start last season before he went down with a foot injury. That injury opened the door for Carlos Hyde to have a big year in 2012, rushing for 970 yards and 16 touchdowns in just 10 games.
If Hall is back and healthy next year, both their numbers may diminish, but they will be an effective one-two combination in the backfield.
Hyde proved that a power back can have a big year in Urban Meyer's spread offense, and Hall is more of the prototypical spread back.
Keep an eye out as well for freshman Ezekiel Elliott who may see some action because of his pure speed out of the backfield, something neither Hall nor Hyde has.
Starters: Corey "Philly" Brown, Devin Smith, Jalin Marshall
Backups: Evan Spencer, Michael Thomas, Chris Fields
The Ohio State passing attack didn't have a breakout year, but it did improve greatly from 2011, led by a pair of solid seasons from Corey Brown and Devin Smith.
Brown led the team in receptions (60) and yards (669), and Smith led the team in receiving touchdowns (6).
The battle for the third starting spot is where our first true freshman cracks the list, as OSU fans have waited a few years for Jalin Marshall to come to Columbus. He will convert to wideout, but he should impress Meyer enough to warrant specific plays that can highlight his ability to make big plays in space.
The backups at WR have plenty of experience, including Evan Spencer and Chris Fields who did see decent playing time last season.
Starters: Jack Mewhort, Taylor Decker
Backups: Kyle Dodson, Evan Lisle
Jack Mewhort had a decent first year at left tackle, while Taylor Decker should slide into the right tackle spot and fill the only vacancy on the offensive line.
Kyle Dodson redshirted in 2012 after needing surgery, and true freshman Evan Lisle may have to step in as a backup because of the lack of depth on the offensive line.
Starters: Andrew Norwell, Corey Linsley (center), Marcus Hall
Backups: Joey O'Connor, Antonio Underwood
The middle of the Ohio State offensive line remains intact led by right guard Marcus Hall, who was outstanding last season. Andrew Norwell and Corey Linsley each played well but had plenty of moments where they also struggled.
The depth is untested, but Joey O'Connor was among the top ten guards in the country when he was recruited to Ohio State in 2012.
Starters: Michael Bennett, Noah Spence
Backups: Steve Miller, J.T. Moore
The front four is Ohio State's biggest rebuilding project, because all four starters from last season are gone.
The Michigan win gave Ohio State fans a little preview of what they should expect up front, especially if Michael Bennett can play anywhere near as well as he did against Michigan. He was very effective filling in for John Simon.
On the opposite side of the line, sophomore Noah Spence should be able to step in and produce. He played in nearly every game last year, but he needs some time in the weight room to get stronger and also needs to continue developing his pass-rushing moves.
Steve Miller and J.T. Moore are the most experienced backups on the roster, but there are plenty of true freshmen, including Joey Bosa and Tyquan Lewis, who could get on the field as well.
Starters: Adolphus Washington, Tommy Schutt
Backups: Joel Hale, Billy Price
OSU is losing a first-round NFL talent in Johnathan Hankins, but Adolphus Washington looks like he could be the next big star of the front seven. He had a big game against Michigan and will continue to learn the nuances of the DT position.
Fellow 2012 recruit Tommy Schutt may be the favorite to start alongside Washington, but Hale could push him for the starting job.
True freshmen Billy Price, Michael Hill and Donovan Munger could also push for playing time.
Starters: Ryan Shazier, Josh Perry
Backups: Camren Williams, David Perkins
Ryan Shazier is the only starter returning on the entire front seven this season. That's a lot of pressure to put on Shazier, who is arguably one of the most talented linebackers in the country.
He needs a lot of help though.
Luckily for him, there are a lot of young linebackers who will compete for the other OLB job, led by Columbus native Josh Perry, who saw plenty of playing time in base formations last season.
In addition, guys like Camren Williams, David Perkins and Jamal Marcus had plenty of reps on special teams and excelled in those roles, which is usually the first step towards earning playing time in regular defensive situations.
Starter: Curtis Grant
Backup: Mike Mitchell
Curtis Grant struggled heavily last season when he started the year at inside linebacker. Barring a bad summer or position change, he may be the starter there once again.
But it would not be stunning for Meyer to pull the trigger on starting highly-touted freshman Mike Mitchell at inside linebacker.
Mitchell has done nothing but impress at prospect camps and at the Army All-American Bowl week. He announced after a lengthy process that he was OSU-bound, and he brings amazing athleticism, size and football IQ to the linebacker position.
Starters: Bradley Roby, Doran Grant
Backups: Eli Apple, Adam Griffin
OSU's defense got a huge boost when Bradley Roby decided to return for his redshirt junior season. Roby is a true shutdown corner and can take away half of the field.
Junior Doran Grant is the favorite to start opposite Roby next year after showing plenty of skill as the nickel corner in 2012. True freshman Eli Apple has enrolled early and will have the advantage of the spring practices to get an inside track for the nickel back spot if not the other starting job.
Starters: Christian Bryant, C.J. Barnett
Backups: Corey Brown, Cameron Burrows
Safety is the only position on the defense where all of last year's starters return.
Unfortunately, the duo of Christian Bryant and C.J. Barnett hasn't inspired a ton of confidence because of how inconsistent they were.
At times the duo was great, then looked just as dreadful at other times. It seemed like they never played a good game at the same time. Whether that's a chemistry thing or not being very talented is a question we will know more about this season.
The other Corey Brown, a former five-star recruit, has been a disappointment but remains the top backup at safety.
True freshman Cameron Burrows could likely move to safety, where his skills may be put to better use, unless the coaches believe he can be the next Richard Sherman. Even if he stays at corner, fellow freshman Jayme Thompson could work his way into the rotation.
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