Welcome to Part VI of this 10-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 this 10-part series.
In it, I will spotlight 10 players who will make a name for themselves nationally and step in for Ohio State to 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 a big deal—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 and now, the series resumes.
No. 5—Thaddeus Gibson
DE (6-3, 240)
While the 2009 Buckeye defense will be replacing two defensive backs and two linebackers (Malcolm Jenkins, Donald Washington, James Laurinaitis, Marcus Freeman), the same can't be said of the defensive line.
Cameron Heyward, Lawrence Wilson, Doug Worthington, Dexter Larimore, Nate Williams, and Thaddeus Gibson all have seen live game action prior to this season.
Gibson will lead an experienced and interchangeable rotation of mean and massive man-movers and quarterback-assassins that will combine to comprise a front four that will undoubtedly be one of the very best in the nation.
Originally recruited as a linebacker, the converted defensive end from Euclid, Ohio took over for the departed Vernon Gholston in 2008 after being red-shirted in 2006 and mostly playing on special teams in 2007.
In his Euclid HS days, Gibson recorded 27 combined sacks in his junior and senior seasons. He was selected to play in the Big 33 Game, named as the Cleveland Touchdown Club’s 2005 Defensive Player of the Year, tabbed First Team All-Ohio twice, and was named to the Cleveland Plain Dealer “Best of the Best” all-star team.
In the 2009 Fiesta Bowl vs. No. 3 Texas, Gibson really began to garner attention when he not-so-politely "introduced" himself to Longhorns quarterback Colt McCoy numerous times, including one sack and two roughing the passer penalties—one of which was at the very least highly questionable.
He's hard-nosed and has the desire to improve by spending hours and hours watching game film and working with the coaching staff to do everything he can do to become the best player he can be.
He certainly has the passion, will, and determination to improve individually and become a leader on the Buckeye defense. He also has a mean streak and killer instinct on the gridiron and seeks to destroy everything that moves that isn't Scarlet and Gray.
That kind of fiery attitude seems to have been missing in Columbus the past few seasons and I welcome it with open arms. Let's hope it's extremely contagious.
Heck, I'm fired up and all I did was write this article.
I cannot wait for November 5.
Part VII: Coming soon!
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