By most accounts, the 2010 Ohio State Buckeyes will begin the season ranked in the Top Five of the national polls.
Some of the Spring and preseason hype placed upon the Bucks stems from how they performed in their 2010 Rose Bowl victory over then-No. 7 Oregon last January, but most of it is tied to quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
Fair or not to Pryor, the comparisons to Vince Young and former Buckeye and Heisman winner Troy Smith have been made.
In their third seasons, both Young and Smith made huge strides as quarterbacks and leaders for their teams—Young leading Texas to the 2005 BCS title, and Smith winning the Heisman while leading Ohio State to the 2007 BCS title game.
Without question, Pryor is the centerpiece and face of the Buckeyes, but he won't have to do it all by himself. The Buckeyes are loaded with talent on both offense and defense.
Wide receivers DeVier Posey and Dane Sanzenbacher bring back images of Ted Ginn and Anthony Gonzalez, while many other talented wide outs including Taurian Washington, Duron Carter, James Jackson, Chris Fields, James Louis, and Tyrone Williams will be fighting for playing time in the third and fourth spots. TE Jake Stoneburner should also figure into the mix as a TE/WR hybrid.
Anchored by Michael Brewster and Justin Boren, the O-line, which has consistently underperformed in recent years, should be one of the best in the nation. That bodes well for both Pryor and for the running backs.
J.B Shugarts, Mike Adams, Marcus Hall, Jack Mewhort, Sam Longo and Corey Linsley are a few other names of the "big uglies" that you should familiarize yourself with, as they will round out the starters and backups (to be determined between now and the end of fall camp) up front in the trenches.
The Buckeyes will field a deep and formidable stable of talented backs in 2010, led by senior Brandon Saine and junior Dan Herron. Sophomores Jamaal Berry, Jordan Hall, Jermil Martin, and freshmen Carlos Hyde and Roderick Smith will also all be looking to impress the coaching staff this Spring and once Fall camp begins.
Depending on how everything shakes out in the running backs competition, there may be a couple players who redshirt, and rumor has it, even a potential transfer, although hopefully those rumors are just that.
In years past, there have been big shoes to fill and many question marks as to who might be the next star running back, wide receiver, or linebacker.
In 2010, replacing Thad Gibson and Kurt Coleman on defense is key, but that may not be that difficult to do as in previous years—and not because Gibson or Coleman weren't great, but rather, Ohio State has stocked the cupboards with plenty of young and highly-rated potential replacements.
John Simon, Cameron Heyward, Nathan Williams, and Dexter Larimore are the likely starting foursome on the defensive front. Adam Bellamy, Garrett Goebel, Melvin Fellows, and Solomon Thomas will also see the field as the second unit.
The linebackers are solid as usual. Ross Homan, Brian Rolle and Etienne Sabino comprise the first team, and they are backed up by Andrew Sweat, Storm Klein, and Dorian Bell.
Cornerback Chimdi Chekwa decided to delay entry into the NFL draft and instead return for his final year. He will be joined by Devon Torrence in the defensive secondary, while Orhian Johnson and Jermale Hines will start at free safety and strong safety respectively.
In no particular order, others of note who will see time in the defensive backfield include Travis Howard, Jamie Wood, Corey Brown, Dominic Clarke, and Tyler Moeller (if healthy).
The time for falling short is over. No more excuses.
The pieces are undeniably in place, the goal has been established, and the GPS coordinates have been entered.
Now the coaches and players just need to put it all on the line and punch that ticket to Glendale—It's time to bring the crystal back to Columbus.