Big When?: The Time Is Now For These Five Ohio State Buckeyes To Step Up

Tim Bielik@bielik_timSenior Analyst IAugust 2, 2009

COLUMBUS, OH - APRIL 19:  Running back Brandon Saine #3 of the Ohio State University Buckeyes runs the ball around linebacker Jermale Hines #7 during the first quarter of their Spring Game on April 19, 2008 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

Fall camp for college football teams is a week away. And with some players itching to hit the turf after summer workouts, it's time to identify players necessary for the Buckeyes' 2009 success.

Sometimes needs arise because of departing seniors or players leaving voids.

Other times it's because players have not fulfilled expectations from recruiting or misconceived hype.

When it comes to the 2009 version of the Ohio State Buckeyes, here are five guys who need to step up for team success in no particular order:

1. Mike Adams

The top OT prospect in the 2008 recruiting class, Adams is expected to be guarding Terrelle Pryor's blindside in the future.

Though he was limited in action last season due to injury, he has earned some praise from the coaching staff for toughness.

Adams has the athleticism that former OT Alex Boone did not have and he has shown great pass protection skills.

He must become a better run blocker to become an elite lineman, but reps on the field as a starter can go a long way to his development. He may or may not be the next Orlando Pace, but his sophomore season might be his season to step into the spotlight.

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2. Brian Rolle

Not too many players have gotten as much hype this summer as the junior LB from Florida.

Rolle is only 5'11'', but at 221 lbs and hits like a tank with tremendous speed as well.

Expected to replace the LB spot formerly held by Marcus Freeman, Rolle has to prove that he is worth the hype generated from a good spring performance.

His freakish athleticism is quickly becoming a common trait of new starters of the OSU defense, where new players in the back seven mostly lack experience, but make up for it with speed and athletic ability.

Rolle will have to bring this freakish package together on the field this season. And when he does, he can become a force and a fan-favorite among Buckeye fans.

3. Andre Amos/Travis Howard

The loss of both starting corners in Malcolm Jenkins and Donald Washington leaves a huge void in the Buckeye defense.

Jr. DB Chimdi Chekwa is pencilled into one spot with two years of solid play and great experience as a nickel-back.

The other spot figures to be a competition between senior Andre Amos and redshirt-freshman Travis Howard.

Expect a very hard-fought competition between the seasoned veteran Amos and the youngster with great ball-skills in Howard.

Amos is the favorite to land the spot, but Howard should see a good amount of playing time and will push Amos all year long. But whoever gets the other starting job will have the big shoes of the departed starters to fill.

Having two experienced safeties in Anderson Russell and Kurt Coleman to make lives easier for whichever player starts at CB.

4. Taurian Washington

The past two springs, Washington has been the star at receiver, scoring long touchdowns in each game. But last season, Washington saw very little field action.

With both Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline gone, expect this spring star to see a ton of playing time in spread sets.

Washington's speed might make it hard for this guy to not see the field, but he has to put it all together and show his skills off in the fall camps.

He has that deep-threat potential which would help to spread out opposing defenses, and give Pryor a big-play weapon with speed.

However, he has to show that he is committed and can work to get on the field. In a crowded field at WR, Taurian has the knowledge to succeed, but must work to get his touches.

5. Brandon Saine

It's basically impossible for a team to replace a RB like Beanie Wells in one season.

But multiple guys in the backfield will help to give the offense weapons, and Saine is one of those guys.

Saine is one of the fastest players on the Buckeyes, but has never been able to see much time because of injuries and Wells' performances.

A big catch against LSU in the 2008 BCS title game showed he can play and be a receiver out of the backfield, but he has never showed it consistently.

Saine brought a lot of hype to Columbus two years ago. Now his time has come and he has to be the guy many felt he would be.

If he stays healthy, there's no reason to think Saine can't be the guy some thought he would be at OSU.


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