Urban Meyer is building a talented roster in Columbus that will have the Ohio State football program contending for a national title well after the BCS is dead and gone.
Players like quarterback Braxton Miller, Jordan Hall and Ryan Shazier stand atop the currently growing crop of talent there.
But these key players aren’t even Meyer recruits. Many believe that the best is yet to come for the Buckeyes once the school’s youngsters are ready to see the field.
That’s a scary thought; not for the Buckeyes program, but for the Big Ten at large.
Let’s take a look at what makes these players so crucial to the Bucks
RB Dontre Wilson
The wide receiver-running back hybrid position, a.k.a. the “Percy Harvin” position, is a crucial function of Meyer’s spread offense. Creating mismatches in space with this slot by moving him all over formations keeps defenses honest down the field and helps create numbers mismatches between the tackles for Meyer to exploit in the run game.
Dontre Wilson is the future at this position, but the future is now in Columbus. If Jordan Hall struggles with injuries again this season, it will be Wilson who is tasked with opening up the offense and becoming one of the most crucial pieces on the Buckeyes roster.
Both are up for the job, despite Wilson being a true freshman. Even if Hall is healthy, Wilson has flashed incredible speed, hands and elusiveness with the football.
Miller, impressed with the lightning quick youngster, suggested that Wilson “better be starting” this season, according to Rob Odgen of The-Ozone.net.
The hype machine is rolling; full steam ahead.
LB Ryan Shazier
Every great defense needs a lead man; that guy is linebacker Ryan Shazier for the 2013 Buckeyes.
After being selected to the All-Big Ten team by the media at the climax of last season, Shazier was recently voted as the conference’s preseason defensive player of the year in a poll by The Plain Dealer.
Shazier’s 115 tackles last season was good enough for second-best in the Big Ten behind Iowa’s Anthony Hitchens.
This year the expectations couldn’t be higher as Shazier will lead a very talented and physical defense in their second year under Meyer. If he can improve on his performance last season, there’s no telling how dominant this unit can be as a whole.
QB Braxton Miller
Call this an obvious choice, but it’s impossible to not include someone who has as big of an impact on the outcome of games as a college quarterback.
A championship will be won by a team that comes together as a unit and survives adversity to achieve perfection. However, the quarterback is the one position that can truly lose a championship.
That pressure isn’t lost on quarterbacks in Meyer’s offense. Braxton Miller’s job will be predicated on his ability to react quickly and make the right reads in the read-option attack and in the passing game.
While Miller may have had his struggles early in his career while going down the field, there is some hope to suggest that he is finally coming around in that department. He still needs to show improvement with accuracy, completing just 58 percent of his passes last season. Bringing that mark above 63 percent would be a step in the right direction. If he can do that, there might not be a team in the country that can slow this Buckeyes offense down.