Ohio State Football: 5 Underrated Players Who Will Shine in 2013
Ohio State will have some voids to fill throughout its lineup going into the 2013 season, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
But every year, there is that player or group of players that breaks out and makes a statement, taking advantage of new opportunity.
OSU seems to do that every season, with Bradley Roby and Ryan Shazier enjoying great years on defense and Carlos Hyde and Devin Smith becoming great offensive players.
Who will be those guys this season?
Here are five potential underrated players who could shine in 2013.
RB Rod Smith
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
Rod Smith may be the third back on the depth chart behind Carlos Hyde and Jordan Hall, but he proved that if given the ball, he has the chance to do something special
Smith had 32 carries for 215 yards and two catches for 55 yards with three touchdowns in 2012.
Better yet, his fumbling issue seemed to be going away slowly as the season went on.
Urban Meyer loves to have a stable of running backs in his offense, and Smith is the perfect guy to back up Hyde because of how similar they run.
TE Jeff Heuerman
Kirk Irwin/Getty Images
Ohio State has not recently been the type of school to produce quality tight ends. But young Jeff Heuerman was good enough to capitalize on the few opportunities given to him.
Heuerman had eight catches for 94 yards and a touchdown last season, plus the game-tying two-point conversion in the comeback win over Purdue.
With OSU likely to try to throw the ball more next season, as Braxton Miller continues to improve, look for Heuerman to continue to showcase his talents catching the ball.
DE Noah Spence
Noah Spence was the prize of Urban Meyer's first recruiting class. Brandon Castel of theozone.net reports that early indications are showing that he's ready to become the next great OSU defensive lineman.
Spence played in all 12 games last season, but didn't really get much of a chance to showcase his skill playing behind a very experienced front four.
With all those starters from last year gone, Spence looks ready to step in after a year of seasoning.
If he can demonstrate the pass-rushing skills that made him an elite prospect, Spence could have a very great career in Columbus.
LB Josh Perry
Out of the group of linebackers that came to Columbus last year, Josh Perry made the most impact in the base 4-3 defense.
Perry rotated into the base 4-3 often at the end of last season and held his own when he was in the game.
After a year in the system, the Columbus-area native might be a favorite to start opposite Ryan Shazier in the base defense. If he does, he can create some havoc on the other side of the defense.
DE Michael Bennett
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
Replacing an injured John Simon in the Buckeyes' 26-21 season-ending win over Michigan, Michael Bennett proved he could be a force as he played an outstanding game.
Bennett could start on the line along with Noah Spence and DT Adolphus Washington, finally giving him an opportunity after two solid years of spot duty.
He has a great motor and good athleticism for his size, allowing him to disrupt plays and create havoc at the line of scrimmage.
With more opportunity, Bennett could become another big cog in the Buckeyes' defense.
Follow me on Twitter @bielik_tim for the latest college football news and updates.