Defensive lineman Nathan Williams
Thursday night, in-front of a raucous 100,000, three Ohio State Buckeyes will be making their first career starts in Scarlet and Gray.
Three other Buckeyes, with some starting experience, will be starting for the first time in their careers as the “No.1” on the depth chart. This year they are “The Guy” at their particular position and not starting due to injury or suspension.
In all, based on the depth chart the team released this past week, fans should keep an eye out for six new Ohio State starters.
Sophomore John Simon will be making his first start as a Buckeye on Thursday.Last season he appeared in 12 games, but never started.
Having a little game experience from filling in for defensive tackles Doug Worthington and Dexter Larimore, Simon should be able to jump right into the starting lineup. He had 15 tackles, 1.5 sacks, four tackles for a loss (TFL) and a forced fumble last year.
His best game was against the dreaded team up north. Against the Wolverines he had four tackles, 0.5 sack and two TFL. It seems that he knows when the bright lights are on.
Simon is one of three sophomores starting for Ohio State. The other two are safety C.J. Barnett and fullback Zach Boren
Nathan Williams has a nose for the quarterback
Defensive end Nathan Williams played in 13 games a season ago, starting one and accounted for 26 tackles, 3.5 sacks and eight tackles for a loss.
Although not a starter, his eight tackles for a loss were the third most on the team—impressive for a non-starting sophomore.
His best game came against Wisconsin where he had five unassisted tackles and one sack.
Now as a junior, Williams will line up opposite of all-world defensive end Cameron Hayward and look to make a bigger impact as a full-time starter.
Remember the hit on USC quarterback Matt Barkley? The one that kept him on the turf for a couple of minutes?
That was Williams who delivered the blow. Bright things are ahead for this "Silver Bullet."
As a sophomore in 2009, Andrew Sweat played in seven games (before an ACL injury ended his year) racking up 15 tackles, a forced fumble, a TFL and an interception—a little bit of everything.
That's what the junior brings to the vaunted "Silver Bullet" defense.
Back in 2008, he appeared in nine games—most of it mop-up duty—and had five tackles.
Although appearing in a total of 16 games during his time with the Buckeyes, Sweat will be making his first career start on Thursday.
His best game a season ago came against Illinois. Against the Fighting Illini Sweat had five tackles including a TFL.
He may not be the next Chris Spielman or A.J Hawk, but look for Sweat to fit right in with the great linebackers to come through Ohio State.
Without question, sophomore C.J. Barnett is the least experienced of the new starters for Ohio State. He has never started and had only four tackles appearing in eight games, most of which on special teams, last season.
Four tackles—that's it. A starter for this year's perennially powerful Buckeyes defense has only four tackles in his career.
When the depth chart was released, Barnett's spot as the starting strong safety was a bit of a surprise. It was widely expected that sophomore Ohrian Johnson would get the nod ahead of Barnett.
Johnson, who appeared in 11 games with 10 tackles last year, was the starter coming out of spring.
The highly talented Barnett must have done something that caught the eyes of the coaching staff from then to now, he was even given Kurt Coleman's No. 4.
There is not much to look at in terms of previous Ohio State experience with Barnett, but by being named a starter as an inexperienced sophomore it appears Barnett is too skilled and talented to sit any longer.
Out of the six new starters, Barnett may be the most intriguing one to watch.
Jake Stoneburner will take over the starting tight end position following the graduation of Jake Ballard.
Stoneburner was the No.2 tight end a year ago, but played in all 13 games. He technically started three games when the Buckeyes started the game out in a 2-TE set.
Although playing in each game last year, the sophomore only caught two passes—one for 17 yards against Navy and one for 13 yards against Navy.
Just because he only caught two passes last year, and that in eight of the nine seasons under Jim Tressel Ohio State's No.1 tight end has had no more than 17 receptions doesn't mean Stoneburner won't be a productive part of the offense.
"I think it's going to happen this year," the tight end said in an interview with the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
"With Terrelle (Pryor) throwing the ball a lot we will have a lot of opportunities. And with me and him being pretty good friends and having a lot of confidence in me, I think that'll help, too."
Look to see if Pryor and Stoneburner's friendship helps out the Buckeyes offense on Thursday night.
Heading into last season (then) sophomore Mike Adams was neck and neck with (then) junior Andrew Miller for the starting left tackle position, but before the season started Adams had off-the-field issues that warranted him a two-game suspension.
While Adams was suspended for the first two games, Miller was named the starter.
After his two-game suspension Adams went on to play in six games for the Buckeyes and started four in place of an injured Jim Cordle.
This season as a junior Adams has been named the starter over the senior Miller, but under similar circumstances.
Although Miller did not get into trouble off the field, he did suffer a shoulder injury that caused him to miss a significant amount of time heading into the year.
With Adams behaving off the field, combined with the misfortune of Miller, the coaches decided to give Adams the nod.
He may not be a stranger to the starting lineup or at least battling for a place in it, but he is a new starter from a season ago and it will interesting to see how he performs with Miller lurking in the wings.
Jim Tressel is a man of field position and there is nothing more crucial to the game of field position than special teams.
All major aspects of Ohio State's 2010 special teams are different compared to 2009.
Kicker= Devin Barclay
Barclay filled in for an injured Aaron Pettrey toward the end of the year and did a nice job. This year, however, he is the man. There is no Aaron Pettrey to get guidance and advice from.
Punter= Ben Buchanan
Buchanan is a sophomore and will be the Buckeyes starting punter this season and there is nothing more important to field position than his right foot.
Against Toledo last year, Buchanan was in charge of the punting duties because normal starter Jon Thoma was out with the flu. He had four punts averaging 42.8 yards with a 51 yarder.
The talent is there to be as good as recent great OSU punters B.J. Sanders and Andy Groom.
Kick Returners= Dan Herron and Brandon Saine
"Boom" and "Zoom" will not only occupy the backfield together, they'll be sharing return duties.
Herron and Saine replace Lamaar Thomas and Ray Small as the team's primary kick-returners. Both have had some experience returning kicks, but it'll be worth paying attention to see how they do back there.
Saine had a 54 yard kick return against Navy in the season opener last year and Herron had 44 yards on two returns in the Rose Bowl.
Punt Returner= DeVier Posey
Now that the controversial Ray Small is gone, someone else will have to take over punt-dropping responsibilities—I mean punt returning responsibilities. I saw so many dropped punts the last few years I thought that's what the position was, punt dropper.
Anyway, it's DeVier Posey who will be replacing Small as Ohio State's primary punt returner.
Posey doesn't have much experience or success, but as long as he actually hangs onto the punt most fans will be happy.
Last year, he returned three punts for a total of five yards and NO fumbles.