Ohio State Football: The 20 Most Likely Breakout Players in the 2011 Season

Tim Bielik@bielik_timSenior Analyst IMarch 12, 2011

Ohio State Football: The 20 Most Likely Breakout Players in the 2011 Season

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    The most fun thing about college football is the anticipation of which players are going to become your program's next stars.

    In the case of Ohio State football, due to the suspensions of the Tat 5, the Buckeyes have a ton of holes on the roster to fill.

    Luckily for them, they have a gluttony of young players loaded with potential, thanks to some good recruiting classes.

    Here is a look at 20 players who have not been on the field too much or at all but could be the next big-time players for the Buckeyes.

20. Kenny Guiton, QB

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    While Kenny Guiton is one of the favorites to start at QB for Ohio State this season, the reason he is only No. 20 here is because Terrelle Pryor will still start the rest of the season after his suspension, making a backup QB meaningless for the time being.

    What could make Guiton a good QB is his athletic ability to run as well as pass, as he showed tremendously in the OSU spring game.

    If he has another good spring, Guiton could put himself in a good position to fight for the starting job to begin the first five games of the season.

19. Reid Fragel, TE

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    In the Jim Tressel era, it's very rare to see a tight end used in the passing game.

    And while Jake Stoneburner is a very good receiving TE, Reid Fragel showed plenty of flashes last seasons, with nine catches for 121 yards and one TD, including a 42-yard reception against Arkansas.

    With DeVier Posey suspended for the first five games of the season, OSU might go to more double tight-end sets, putting Fragel on the field more often.

    And he is a big target at 6-foot-8, which is friendly for a new QB.

18. Adam Bellamy, DT/DE

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    With the departures of Cameron Heyward and Dexter Larimore, the OSU defensive line does have some openings to fill.

    Redshirt sophomore DL Adam Bellamy may be one of those players who can make an impact at either the DE or DT position.

    Though he did not see much action in 2010, Bellamy played a huge role in spell situations during the Sugar Bowl against Arkansas.

    A good spring could see Bellamy, who has a good combination of strength and quickness, finding some space in the two-deep.

17. Tyrone Williams, WR

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    Ohio State will need to find themselves a very good WR to replace Dane Sanzenbacher, as well as DeVier Posey for the first five games of the season.

    One sleeper who could find their way into the rotation is giant Tyrone, or T.Y., Williams.

    At 6-foot-7, Williams could give the Buckeyes the tall receiver who would be a perfect complement to its crop of smaller but quicker receivers like Corey Brown and James Louis.

    The coaches have raved often about Williams who is raw, but has sky-high potential for the future.

16. Braxton Miller, QB

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    Like with Kenny Guiton, the reason Braxton Miller is only No. 16 is because unless Terrelle Pryor is hurt, the most we will see of Miller this season will be the first five games.

    Miller, the consensus No. 2 QB prospect by multiple scouting services, is a very talented dual-threat QB who has great open-field elusiveness and a strong arm.

    The problem with Braxton is seeing what he can do with talent around him, because his teammates were not very talented in portions of his career, although he took his team to the Ohio Division I State Championship this past year.

    Miller is in Columbus right now and will practice with the team this spring, which could put him in good position to compete for the starting job.

15. Storm Klein, LB

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    In addition to the holes on the defensive line, Ohio State will need to find replacements for Brian Rolle and Ross Homan at the LB position.

    Of all the candidates for one of the two starting spots, one of the sleepers for the job is Storm Klein, an athletic player with a name perfectly befitting his style of play.

    Klein has been on special teams in each of his two seasons as well as in the two-deep last season, and has shown plenty of flashes of potential in those times.

    He will get on the field in some capacity next season, and he can certainly be a good player in this defense very quickly.

14. Steve Miller, DE

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    As far as impact freshmen go, one of the most likely young players who could see the field for Ohio State is blue-chip DE Steve Miller.

    With one starting job opening up on the defensive line, expect Miller to find an opportunity to find some time in the two-deep due to his athleticism and motor.

    His pure athleticism and pass rushing ability could find him some playing time immediately, just like current starter Nathan Williams in his freshman year back in 2008.

    Whether he plays this season, Miller should be a stud on the Buckeye defensive line soon.

13. Chris Fields, WR

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    Chris Fields, after having a fantastic bowl practice session before the 2010 Rose Bowl, found himself some playing time in 2010.

    Despite only having three receptions in 2010, Fields showed some flashes of what he can be on the field with some good speed and quickness.

    The suspension of DeVier Posey and the graduation of Dane Sanzenbacher at WR means Fields and sophomore WR Corey Brown will be fighting for the top WR job, which will inevitably become the No. 2 job when Posey returns to the lineup.

12. Corey Brown, DB

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    Ohio State is probably the only school in the country with two players named Corey Brown, and the player from the class of 2009 will be having an eye on one of the starting DB positions.

    Brown has tremendous quickness and physicality which will help him in the secondary, along with excellent ball skills going back to his experience as a wideout in high school.

    He missed half of the 2010 season due to a knee injury, but should be healthy come spring.

    In the future, Brown projects to be a very capable free safety, the prototypical "center fielder" in the secondary.

11. Keith Wells, DE

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    Keith Wells' story at Ohio State has been very interesting, as he was expected to be competing for a starting job last season, but he left the university due to academic problems.

    Wells reportedly is coming back to Ohio State for the spring to practice once again with the Buckeyes and try to claim the other starting DE job.

    His experience and athletic ability could put him in early position to claim the starting job.

    But he will first need to prove he is committed to succeeding both on and off the field before he will get his big chance.

10. Christian Bryant, DB

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    With all of the defensive injuries suffered last season, freshman DB Christian Bryant immediately was forced into action at the STAR position normally occupied by Tyler Moeller.

    Bryant is much smaller than Moeller, but played the position with the same kind of physical edge that Moeller had done the year before.

    If Moeller starts at safety, then expect Bryant to move to the STAR position again if he doesn't win the second corner spot.

    But his physicality and speed can make him a very lethal corner as well in the near future.

9. Andrew Norwell, OT

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    The vacancy of Mike Adams for the first five games can open the door for the only OL commit from 2010's class, blue-chipper Andrew Norwell.

    He appeared in several games last season and showed the skills that make him a great prospect: tenacity, aggressiveness and athleticism.

    Norwell can certainly be one of those road-grading tackles, and although his future projection puts him at RT, he will most likely start 2011 on the left side.

    If he can improve his pass protection going forward, he can be a force to be reckoned with in the future.

8. Roderick Smith, RB

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    When Buckeye fans get their first glimpse of Roderick Smith carrying the football, they might be reminded of another legendary Ohio State back.

    The redshirt freshman from Fort Wayne, Ind., drew rave reviews in preparation practices for the Sugar Bowl and has already drawn comparisons to Eddie George with his combination of size and speed.

    Smith rushed for 6,655 yards in four seasons as a starter in high school, but will need to be able to harness his physical gifts effectively to excel at this level.

    With Boom Herron suspended for the first five games, Smith will have a chance to earn some carries early on in the season.

7. Curtis Grant, LB

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    It's very rare for Ohio State to get a commit on National Signing Day of five-star caliber.

    And that's just what the Buckeyes got in having consensus five-star LB Curtis Grant, whom Rivals.com's Mike Farrell called the most physical LB Ohio State has ever recruited.

    Grant's highlight film and physical stature has earned him incredible comparisons to future Hall of Fame LB Ray Lewis.

    He might not start this season, but Grant is more than physically and instinctively ready to play. And it might be almost impossible to keep this future star off the ice all season long.

6. Dorian Bell, LB

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    As far as pure freakish athletes are concerned, none come any more intriguing than LB Dorian Bell.

    Teammates with Corey Brown (DB) at Gateway High School outside Pittsburgh, Bell stands at 6-foot, 240 lbs. with a 4.5 40-yard time and has tremendous instincts and pure hitting ability.

    With two LB starting jobs opening up for the upcoming season, Bell will look to fill one of those vacancies.

    And he has shown excellence on special teams as well as on spot duty as a backup.

5. Jaamal Berry, RB

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    After redshirting his freshman season in 2009, Jaamal Berry showed why he received so much hype in recruiting as a kick returner.

    Though he did get 32 carries for 266 yards and one TD as a RB, Berry made an immediate impact along with teammate Jordan Hall to make OSU a top-five team in kick return average.

    Berry has elite speed with underrated power and vision, and Herron's suspension could earn him some extra opportunities for carries.

    Last year proved that if Berry gets the ball in his hands, he can be a very dangerous player.

    And he will only get better with age.

4. Corey "Philly" Brown, WR

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    Out of the three WRs Ohio State recruited in 2010, only one saw the field last season, and he showed why he may be the future of Buckeye receivers.

    Corey Brown, who has been compared to DeSean Jackson by Terrelle Pryor, got on the field early and often last season as the No. 3 WR on most sets.

    Though he only had nine receptions and one TD, Brown proved that his speed can be a lethal weapon.

    If he can avoid drops that plagued him a bit last season, he can be a big-time gamebreaker in the same way Santonio Holmes did a few years ago.

    Right now, Brown might be the favorite to be the No. 1 WR in the absence of Posey.

3. C.J. Barnett, S

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    If his performance in the Miami game on Sept. 11 was any indication, C.J. Barnett, who missed the rest of the season with a knee injury suffered in the win, is a star in the making.

    In that game, Barnett did it all: delivering big hits, showing good coverage and making smart plays by deflecting a Jacory Harris into the hands of DE Nathan Williams.

    Barnett appears to be penciled in to a starting safety job and will be expected to deliver the lumber as he did in the first two games of the 2010 season.

    That type of intimidating safety is something that could make the Buckeye secondary a major problem for offenses next season.

2. Travis Howard, CB

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    The loss of Chimdi Chekwa may not be so bad if junior DB Travis Howard plays the way he did in the final three games of the 2010 season.

    Howard was incredible in those three games, including a pick-six to seal a comeback win over Penn State, and filled in wonderfully when Chekwa went down with an arm injury in the Sugar Bowl.

    The young corner from Miami has great ball skills and quickness that could make him a very good corner for OSU.

    He will most likely start right away in 2011 and should become yet another talented corner before his college career is over.

1. Etienne Sabino, LB

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    One old adage in life says that good things come to those who wait.

    In the case of Etienne Sabino, who voluntarily redshirted in 2010 after losing the starting job in camp to Andrew Sweat, who had an unbelievably great summer, Sabino finally looks poised to step into the role most Buckeye fans envisioned back in 2008.

    Sabino has all of the physical gifts with size and speed, but took his redshirt year to learn more about the mental aspects of the LB position in the Ohio State defense.

    He could play any of the three LB positions in the 4-3, and should be an instant impact player once injected into the lineup.

    For a player who's waited three full seasons, Sabino might finally be ready to become one of the next great Buckeye linebackers.


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