Welcome to Part IV of this ten-part series.
As previously stated, I will continue to repost the opening few paragraphs from Part I in all 10 segments in the event that a new reader who may have missed a previous segment begins to follow along so if you've been following from the beginning, please bear with me and thanks!
First off, let me say this article is not for die-hard Ohio State fans. I suspect you will know the players I highlight.
Instead, I wrote this in response to my recent preview article about the OSU/USC football matchup in Columbus this fall. A lot has been made by non-OSU fans of how USC will be reloaded as usual, and thus, many of these people believe that Ohio State will have zero chance of beating the Trojans.
Pretty much everyone who isn't a Buckeye fan seems to believe this, but the problem is, they are overlooking the fact that USC lost far more than OSU and OSU reloads just as well as USC!
They are also making a generalization about how good or how not-so-good the Buckeyes will be based on Ohio State's big-stage losses, starting with Florida in the 2006 BCS title game and culminating with their lop-sided loss in Los Angeles last September.
They are also focusing on the players OSU is losing and aren't looking at the players who are here and ready to start, including a several key guys from the last two highly-regarded recruiting classes, and that's where I come in!
To help educate those doom-and-gloom prognosticators who make those type of general statements about the Buckeyes 2009 season outlook, I've decided to create a 10-part series to spotlight 10 players who will make a name for themselves nationally and step in for Ohio State and sufficiently fill the holes left by the likes of Beanie Wells, James Laurinaitus, Malcolm Jenkins, Marcus Freeman, Alex Boone, Brian Robiskie, etc.
Obviously, no Buckeye fan, player, or coach will deny that losing Beanie Wells is beyond huge—but remember, Terrelle Pryor is an amazing dual-threat quarterback who will carry the load more often in 2009 if needed, but he's not the only potential game-breaking playmaker that will see action for the Buckeyes!
The Bucks have plenty of them on both sides of the ball!
No. 7—Etienne Sabino, LB
(6'3", 235lbs, 4.6 40-yard-dash)
Sabino, a five-star top prospect, was recruited by Ohio State and joined the incoming class of 2008 after a stellar career at Dr. Michael Krop H.S. in Miami, Florida.
He was rated as the No. 2 overall linebacker in the nation and was ranked in the overall top 100 by all the major recruiting sites including ESPN, Rivals, Scout, PrepStar and SuperPrep.
He was an All-Dade County and All-Florida first team selection in 2008 after posting 146 tackles, seven QB sacks, five forced fumbles and one interception.
He was named an EA Sports All-American and was invited to play in the 2008 US Army All-American game in 2008 as well.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution tabbed him in their Super Southern 100.
Sabino played in all thirteen games for the Buckeyes in 2008 on special teams.
Sabino has great size and athletic ability. He has the speed to play sideline-to-sideline and the strength to stuff the run.
He's very fluid and he flies to the football and punishes runners. Against the pass, he has shown solid athleticism and range. His ability to pressure the quarterback in blitz packages is nearly unmatched.
Sabino plays extremely well in traffic and his blitzing skills are incredibly impressive. He can find his way around or through blockers and bodies on the field as well as any linebacker in the nation, playing low and balanced in and around the big uglies.
Ohio State has consistently produced many great linebackers over the years and sent them on to NFL stardom.
With James Laurinaitis and Marcus Freeman continuing that tradition of moving on to the NFL after last season, look for Sabino to assume the role of the next great linebacker at Ohio State.
He certainly has big shoes to fill, but don't be shocked if and when you see him meet, and even exceed the expectations that are undoubtedly going to be placed upon his shoulders.
As always, thanks for reading—Please post your thoughts!
Part V: Coming soon!