Ohio State Football 2012: Predicting the Pre-Spring 2-Deep Depth Chart

Tim Bielik@bielik_timSenior Analyst IMarch 12, 2012

Ohio State Football 2012: Predicting the Pre-Spring 2-Deep Depth Chart

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    Ohio State's spring season comes up very soon, and fans are already excited about the start of the Urban Meyer era.

    He will finally have a chance to get his hands on his new team from a football direction when practice begins towards the end of March.

    Even though his team is ineligible for this year's postseason, they still return 19 starters in addition to bringing in several freshmen from one of the top recruiting classes in the country.

    The anticipation is as great as it's ever been as fans are excited to see what this new direction of Ohio State football will look like.

    Here is a look at what the depth chart may look like before the start of the season, with starters in bold.

Quarterback

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    Braxton Miller, Kenny Guiton

    Braxton Miller had an entertaining freshman season that raised some eyebrows and has Buckeye fans excited for his potential future.

    Meyer has gushed over the potential of Miller and Buckeye fans have been excited to see what he will look like with a great offensive mind like Meyer as coach.

    The growth of Miller is among the biggest things fans are paying attention to during the spring.

Running Back

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    Jordan Hall, Carlos Hyde—Zach Boren at fullback

    Jordan Hall and Carlos Hyde are expected to be the one-two punch in the Ohio State ground game after each gained valuable experience a year ago.

    Hall's shiftiness might make him more of a dual-threat back with the ability to both take handoffs and catch the ball out of the backfield.

    Hyde is more of the traditional, downhill running back that Urban Meyer never had since DeShawn Wynn at Florida.

    Freshman Bri'onte Dunn, who is already enrolled, has a small chance to crack the two-deep as well because of his great combo of power and speed.

Wide Receivers

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    Corey Brown, Devin Smith, Evan Spencer, Verlon Reed, Michael Thomas, Chris Fields

    In Meyer and offensive coordinator Tom Herman's spread attack, expect Ohio State to roll with three receivers fairly often.

    The most likely three are the ones that seem like the most explosive players on the roster at this time.

    Corey Brown may be the best pure athlete on the Buckeye offense, with the possibility of being the "Percy Harvin" of the offense this year.

    Smith and Spencer may likely start over Reed depending on Reed's rehab from his ACL injury. But Reed very likely could jump into the rotation frequently because he has great hands and is very reliable.

Tight End

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    Jake Stoneburner, Jeff Heuerman

    In the past, Ohio State has failed to properly utilize the tight end in their passing game. And as Jake Ballard proved this year with the New York Giants, they haven't been as talent-depleted at the position as some thought.

    That will all change with Meyer and Herman's offense, which made Aaron Hernandez and former Rice TE James Casey monster weapons.

    They will get Stoneburner for just one season, but they are getting a player who still has untapped ability that was never used to its full potential.

    Stoneburner should blossom and quickly become Miller's favorite target in this new offense.

Offensive Line

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    *starters listed going across from LT to RT*

    Andrew Norwell, Jack Mewhort, Brian Bobek, Corey Linsley, Reid Fragel—backups include Taylor Decker, Marcus Hall and Antonio Underwood.

    Reid Fragel will no longer be catching passes for the Buckeyes as Urban Meyer moved him over to tackle, in hopes that he will replace J.B. Shugarts.

    Fragel has bulked up well and will just need to refine his technique to become an effective tackle.

    Norwell got plenty of experience starting last year during Mike Adams' suspension and should prove to be solid at LT.

    Bobek will be the first new starting center Ohio State has had since Mike Brewster took over early in 2008.

Defensive Line

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    Defensive End: Nathan Williams, Steve Miller, J.T. Moore, Kenny Hayes

    Defensive Tackle: Johnathan Hankins, John Simon, Garrett Goebel, Michael Bennett

    John Simon might possibly be moved from his DE spot back to DT where he might be more comfortable and will give OSU incredible depth up the middle. He will form a powerful duo with Johnathan Hankins, who so far has already proven to his coaches quickly how quickly he is growing.

    Nathan Williams will come back once again to help lead a group of young, mostly unproven DEs. The battle for the other DE spot will be a wild one, as Moore and Miller may have the inside tracks early on.

    Don't be surprised if Se'Von Pittman, another freshman early enrollee and high school teammate of Miller, pushes for that starting job as well either.

Linebackers

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    Outside Linebacker: Ryan Shazier, Storm Klein, Josh Perry, Conner Crowell

    Inside Linebacker: Etienne Sabino, Curtis Grant

    Ohio State had a stunning lack of depth at linebacker and it showed as the group's play diminished as the season went along.

    The biggest bright spot was the emergence of Ryan Shazier who was a force as a freshman due to his phenomenal athletic ability and powerful hitting.

    Freshman Josh Perry will be pushing Storm Klein for first-team reps as co-defensive coordinators Luke Fickell and Everett Withers want to bolster this group's depth before freshmen David Perkins and Camren Williams among others enroll in the summer.

    In the middle, senior Etienne Sabino will have to hold off highly-touted sophomore Curtis Grant. Sabino seems to be in better shape, but will need to work on his positioning and awareness in order to keep his job.

Secondary

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    Cornerback: Bradley Roby, Travis Howard, Doran Grant, Christian Bryant

    Free Safety: Orhian Johnson, Corey Brown

    Strong Safety: C.J. Barnett, Christian Bryant

    The Ohio State secondary did have some weaknesses last season, but they do bring a very experienced group back this season led by breakout corner Bradley Roby.

    Roby quickly emerged as a talented corner with great speed and intelligence that it takes to run the top corner spot.

    Howard, Johnson and Barnett all return as starters from opening day a year ago as the three seniors in the secondary.

    With Dominic Clarke kicked off the team early in 2012, Doran Grant will be called upon to live up to his blue-chip billing early as the nickel corner in the defense.

Special Teams

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    Kicker: Drew Basil

    Punter: Ben Buchanan

    Kick Returners: Devin Smith, Jordan Hall, Corey (WR) Brown

    Punt Returners: Jordan Hall, Corey (WR) Brown

    Ben Buchanan returns for his final season as the punter while Drew Basil, who improved greatly with his accuracy during the year, has one more year left after 2012 as the kicker.

    In the return game, look for Meyer to put his most explosive and elusive players back deep.

    Smith's track speed and Hall's elusiveness and quickness make quite a dangerous one-two punch in the kickoff return department.

    Hall and Brown will likely battle it out for the punt returner job until freshman Armani Reeves, who returned two punts for touchdown as a senior in high school, arrives in the summer.

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