Welcome to Part VIII.
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 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.
Originally this installment was going to be a feature on starting MLB Tyler Moeller, but with his season ending head injury, the show must go on. We wish Tyler all the best.
In his place, I've decided to feature two Buckeye linebackers who can, but more importantly, must step up and fill not only Tyler's shoes, but also those of James Laurinaitis and Marcus Freeman, both now in the NFL.
No. 3A—Brian Rolle
MLB (5'11", 220)
Rolle is now slated to start in place of Moeller at middle linebacker because of his speed and ability to shift quickly to help with containment on the outside.
In his H.S. days in Immokalle, Florida, Rolle was a two-time all-Florida selection and is the only two-time recipient of the Naples Daily News Broxson Trophy, given to the best player in South Lee and Collier counties.
That's saying quite a bit as NFL star Edgerrin James is an alum of the same high school, yet he only won the award once.
Of course, Rolle himself was an all-star at Immokalee High, posting some impressive statistics.
In his final two seasons, he had a combined 283 tackles at linebacker and as a fullback, rushed for 1450 yards and 25 touchdowns.
He is a gifted athlete and the Buckeye staff is confident in him. In 2005, he helped lead Immokalee High to a state title. In 2009, he's expected to a big part of the Buckeyes quest for their fifth straight Big Ten title.
In his freshmen and sophomore seasons at Ohio State, Rolle saw some spot-duty at linebacker, but was predominantly an impact player on special teams, earning varsity letters each season.
The junior-to-be plans on making the most of his opportunity this season for the Buckeyes. He has openly said he intends on being one of the best to ever play for the scarlet and gray.
Those is certainly a high self-imposed expectation, but if he continues to play as he has since the Spring game, he'll be well on his way to meeting that goal and may even help bring another BCS title to Columbus over the next two seasons.
No. 3B—Austin Spitler
OLB (6'3", 235)
Much like Rolle, Spitler has seen most of his playing time on special teams.
Unfortunately, he has been roadblocked since 2006 from playing at middle linebacker by three-time all-American James Laurinaitis. Now he finally will get his chance to step up, but with enormous shoes to fill.
Coming out of Bellbrook H.S. in Bellbrook, Ohio, Spitler was named all-Ohio as a senior. He had 252 tackles combined in his junior and senior years and was named first team all-conference and linebacker of the year both seasons.
After red-shirting at OSU in 2005, Spitler has amassed only 44 career tackles in two and a half seasons. He missed several weeks of the 2008 season due to a knee injury.
Originally a middle linebacker, Spitler is a strong, tough and physical defender, but not as fast as Rolle so he has moved to the outside.
While he's considered solid on run defense, he will most likely be spelled by Etienne Sabino on all assumed or obvious passing situations.
His teammates have faith in him and respect for him as he was voted as one of the 2009 team captains.
This season, he will has the chance to prove he belongs on the field, but should he falter, Ohio State has a plethora of depth at his position so his leash may be a short one.
Previous installments in this series:
Sudden Impact Countdown Part I: Brandon Saine
Sudden Impact Countdown Part II: Boom Herron
Sudden Impact Countdown Part III: Justin Boren
Sudden Impact Countdown Part IV: Etienne Sabino
Sudden Impact Countdown Part V: Michael Brewster
Sudden Impact Countdown Part VI: Thaddeus Gibson
Sudden Impact Countdown Part VII: DeVier Posey
Parts IX and X: Coming soon!
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