2012 Program Preview - Ohio St.

Big man no jump high. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Well, we can say this - it's a new Ohio St. if nothing else. Gone is the shadow of Jim Tressel and Terrelle Pryor. The impact of the suspensions that fundamentally limited the Buckeyes' early schedule last year (3-3 record to open the season, including a 5-point win at home over Toledo...) is no longer relevant.

In comes Urban Meyer to help elevate true sophomore QB Braxton Miller and get OSU back to national prominence. The defense is largely intact from last year, bolstered by a phenomenal 2012 recruiting class on that side of the ball. The question is how quickly the offensive line shores up after the departure of some key starters including OT Mike Adams, and if anyone can help elevate the passing game from the WR corps.

While OSU will be Emmerted from postseason play, their Big Ten schedule should provide plenty of tape for NFL scouts.

After the jump, the prospects worth noting as well as some games and matchups to pencil into your calendar.

References

Land-Grant Holy Land (SB Nation Ohio St. community), Off Tackle Empire (SB Nation conference community), SB Nation Cleveland, SB Nation team page, official team site, Bill Connelly's preview for SBN

Notable offensive prospects

Name POS Yr. Early projected Rd (notes)
Jake Stoneburner TE RS Sr. 4
Zach Boren FB Sr. 6
Reid Fragel OT Sr. UD
Jordan Hall RB Sr. UD (foot injury due to walking in grass...)
Jack Mewhort OT RS Jr. 5
Andrew Norwell OL Jr. 6
Braxton Miller QB Soph. N/A
Devin Smith WR Soph. N/A


Notable defensive prospects

Name POS Yr. Early projected Rd (notes)
John Simon DE Sr. 2
Etienne Sabino OLB RS Sr. 3
Travis Howard CB RS Sr. 5
Orhian Johnson SS RS Sr. 7
Garrett Goebel DT RS Sr. UD
Johnathan Hankins DT/3-4 NT Jr. 1
C.J. Barnett FS RS Jr. 3
Adam Bellamy DT RS Jr. UD
Bradley Roby CB RS Soph. 4
Michael Bennett DT Soph. N/A
Ryan Shazier OLB Soph. N/A


Summary

Ohio State has plenty of NFL-caliber talent, as you'd expect. While the defense offers the more notable prospects (including mammoth DT Johnathon Hankins), there's quality on the offense with the promise of Miller and Smith perhaps creeping into pre-day 3 contention by next year.

I think one of the things to look for, especially when we get all tape-scrapey after the season's over, is to isolate how much certain defenders benefit from the talent around them. That's generally important for any prospect, but given the depth on this defense I might make the case there are going to be some OSU products being a bit overrated come February and March, 2013.

Key games

Cal (home) - Week 3 (Sat., Sep. 15 - 12:00 p.m. ET, ABC)

Ohio St. takes on a pretty vanilla non-conference schedule this year with four home games against Miami (Ohio), UAB and UCF. The punctuation game is this one, though, as an interesting Cal team heads to Columbus. WR Keenan Allen and RB Isi Sofele are nothing to scoff at; the rest of the offense might be. Zach Maynard has to be a better quarterback in Cal's bigger contests. Has to be. Against USC, UCLA and Texas in the Holiday Bowl, Maynard threw 0 TDs, 8 interceptions and ran the ball 26 times for -5 yards. Hard to get worse, but still...

If there's a game that can trip up the Buckeyes prior to Big Ten play, it's this one with Cal's deep 3-4 defense.

Michigan (home) - Week 13 (Sat., Nov. 24 - 12:00 p.m. ET, ABC)

Duh. I refer to my Michigan preview for salient prediction data (note: you will not find salient prediction data at that link).

Key matchups

OT Jack Mewhort v. Michigan St. DE William Gholston, Week 5 - Sat., Sep. 29

Gholston had his breakout game last year against OSU, with three tackles for a loss and a sack. With the experiences of 2011 behind him, both good and bad, Gholston is being bandied about as one of the bigger names at DE this season. Mewhort will have his hands full in this game trying to deal with Gholston.

DT Johnathan Hankins v. Wisconsin C Travis Frederick, Week 12 - Sat., Nov. 17

Speaking of large gentlemen battling against one another... the above matchup weighs in at 585 pounds combined. This pairing is more than 50 pounds heavier, and that's if you buy Hankins at 317. I don't.

Frederick moves from guard to center this season for the Badgers, so this could be the best matchup either face all season in terms of NFL quality.

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