The 2008 Buckeyes are a pretty impressive team on paper; they lost only four starters from the National runner-up and they weren't even at key positions. But that's just on paper, individual players will make the difference on the field. And when talking about individual leaders for the Buckeyes, you have to start with James Laurinaitis:
LB, James Laurinaitis (Sr.)
The reigning Butkus award winner and pre-season All-American is a do-it all linebacker in the mold of A.J. Hawk. He's equally adept against the run and pass and will be a top-10 pick in next year's draft. He keys the entire defense, but will need to count on solid DT play to free himself up to make plays.
CB, Malcolm Jenkins (Sr.)
A shut-down corner that was thrown away from most of last season. Due to good depth at CB, and middling safety play, he was moved into a free safety role at times. He will probably continue to see some time back there this season, but with both safeties returning, he will play corner more. Expect him to blanket the go-to receiver every game. Should be a finalist for the Thorpe award and a pre-season All-American too.
DE, Lawrence Wilson (Sr.): Hurt all of last year, but he was supposed to be the main guy on the D-line last year....not Vernon Gholston...who ended up going #6 overall.
S, Kurt Coleman (Jr.): Should finally lose the stone-hands that made him miss interceptions last year and turn into the impact safety the Bucks haven't had since Donte Whitner.
RB, Chris "Beanie" Wells (Jr.)
The identity of the OSU offense and a classic Big Ten bruiser in the backfield. He can run around and through people. Coupled with a superb and experienced O-line he is a Heisman favorite and is aiming to become only the 14th player to amass 2,000 yards in a season.
QB, Todd Boeckman (Sr.)
He is going to be the difference between a good and great team. All the pieces he needs to succeed are around him. Now he needs to prove that his late season performances last year were a fluke. He has the arm and the experience, he needs to turn it into production. The only things holding him back from great passing numbers are the Buckeyes defense and Beanie Wells: he simply isn't in games long enough to compile the counting stats.
WR, Taurian Washington (So.) and Wr, Dane Sanzenbacher (So.): They could emerge as the slot receivers and make a lot of big catches down-field. Washington is a more vertical threat and Sanzenbacher is a possession receiver in the mold of Anthony Gonzalez.
QB, Terelle Pryor (Fr.): Terelle Pryor!!! Ok, settle down everyone. He will get only a handful of meaningful snaps per game and when he does he will likely be picking up 3-5 yard first downs on speed option plays. That being said, he is a gifted player who will bring a whole new dimension to the offense.