Untested senior Joe Bauserman and highly-touted freshman Braxton Miller are the popular picks to replace senior Terrelle Pryor for the first five games of 2011. I’m not entirely sure why sophomore Ken Guiton isn’t in the conversation.
Bauserman’s career statistics: 320 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Miller, obviously, has no numbers.
Guiton’s numbers are very pedestrian: one completion on two attempts, one interception. However, he can run (Bauserman cannot) and has game experience (Miller does not). Guiton’s best game showing was in one that didn’t count.
In the 2010 spring game, Guiton was the undisputed star of the game, completing 11-of-21 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns. He’s also always been overlooked. Guiton was the last player offered in his recruiting class. He’s being overlooked by Bauserman and Miller. Keep an eye on Kenny G.
Smith is someone who’s never been overlooked. In high school, he rushed for 6,620 yards, scored over 60 touchdowns and had over 1,000 career carries. Smith is also built like an outside linebacker, standing 6'3" inches and weighing around 220 pounds.
Unfortunately for Smith, he’s buried on the depth chart. When eligible, Dan “Boom” Herron is the starter. Shifty junior Jordan Hall and speedy redshirt sophomore Jamaal Berry appear to be the two backups who will get most of the carries during Herron’s suspension. Even sophomore bruiser Carlos Hyde could see time over Smith.
But after Smith lit up bowl practices, his teammates were raving about him.
“Today everyone was talking about Rod Smith, he’s going to be an unbelievable back,” former Buckeye linebacker Ross Homan told Cleveland.com in December. “I always tell him, ‘there’s Beanie Wells’ and he always smiles.”
Former OSU defensive tackle Dexter Larimore agreed with Homan.
“I just watch him on and think, 'man, that kid's going to be good.' I mean, obviously, he's not going to juke somebody out of his shoes—actually, he probably could do that if he wanted to,” Larimore said to Cleveland.com. “But he's able to be physical in the hole, which we always kind of liked."
The redshirt sophomore out of Painesville, Ohio has been under-the-radar in his brief career. Fields was blocked on the field by the now-departed Dane Sanzenbacher, senior DeVier Posey and sophomore Corey Brown. He only had three catches for 22 yards in garbage time in 2010.
Which player will have the biggest impact in 2011?
Coming out of high school Fields was known for his hands and all-around athleticism, as he also starred in baseball and track. The redshirt sophomore is probably going to be the No. 2 wide receiver for the first five games while Posey sits.
It’s hard to know what sort of production to expect out of Fields until he sees extensive playing time.
As ridiculous as it may sound, OSU’s offense is probably going to be more conservative than usual in the first five games, which will mean the offense will rely on established offensive players such as Hall, Berry, Brown, Jake Stoneburner and Reid Fragel.
The sophomore mammoth of a lineman saw a decent amount of time in relief last season and fared well. Now, he’s in line to fill-in for suspended left tackle Mike Adams for the first five games of the season. The former U.S. Army All-American nominee (his senior season was cut short by a leg injury) will now have a chance to live up to his lofty expectations.
Not only will Norwell be charged with keying an OSU run game that will be replacing two guards and its suspended starting tailback, he will have to protect the blind side of whoever will fill Pryor’s shoes for the first five games as well.
Lest we all forget, kickers are very important at Ohio State due to coach Jim Tressel’s preponderance for special teams. The Buckeyes will be relying upon Basil, last season’s kick-off specialist, to boot their field goals in 2011.
And given the fact that OSU will be without arguably their four best and most important offensive players, plenty of drives could stall. It will be then up to Basil to put the pigskin through the posts for OSU.