2013 is here, I hope everyone rang in the New Year safe and sound but still had a lot of fun! With a new year brings the opportunity to look forward to what we are expecting and would like to see at this time next year. Let’s rumble!
No drop off on the d-line
For the first time in who knows how long, Ohio State will go into the upcoming football season replacing all four starters on its defensive front line. Gone are Jonathan Hankins, John Simon, Nathan Williams and Garret Goebel. The guys taking their place have big shoes to fill as Hankins may potentially be a top ten pick in the NFL draft, Williams and Simon were deadly on the ends (most notably when on the field together) while Goebel came into his own in 2011 and really blossomed in 2012 as a solid run stuffer. Goebel and Simon were named captains at the end of fall practice.
Fortunately, the Buckeyes appear to be loaded. We watched true freshman Tommy Schutt, Adolphus Washington and Noah Spence see significant snaps, some in critical junctures of big games. Junior Joel Hale was solid when called on. Another junior, Michael Bennett, has the potential to be the next “big time” defensive lineman at Ohio State. More troops are on the way as incoming freshman Tracy Sprinkle, Joey Bosa and Michael Hill are being looked at to perform as well as the Schutt-Spence-Washington trio did in 2012 or better.
There’s also the enigma that is J.T. Moore. He has the size and speed to be a steady hand in the rotation but has yet to show an ability to stay on the field when opportunities arise. Along with Moore, what will become of Chris Carter? Carter has the size to shut down run lanes in the manner that Hankins did in his career, but does he have the desire?
The REAL Linebacker U
Andy Katzenmoyer. A.J. Hawk. Ike Kelly. Bobby Carpenter. Randy Gradishar. Chris Spielman. Steve Tovar. Pepper Johnson. Tom Cousineau. James Laurinitis. Matt Wilhelm. Marcus Marek. Na’ill Diggs. Tell me, Penn State, is your list remotely close to this one? Didn’t think so. Read More
Sorry to be a bit late on this one… we were busy celebrating the Buckeye Spring Game victory/grieving the Buckeye Spring Game loss. As you can imagine, beverages were involved in both scenarios.
Anywho- Since Buckeye Hoops Nation grew by one today, it only made sense that the Football team bring one into the fold as well; and following the Spring Game Pennsylvania Wyomissing’s Alex Anzalone gave his verbal commitment to become the eleventh member of Ohio State’s 2013 recruiting class.
A rumored Buckeye lean for the past few weeks (given his mail, can you blame him?), Anzalone is one of the top rated outside linebackers in the country this year- a four star recruit on all three major scouting services. It might be easier to list the schools that haven’t offered him a scholarship at this point, since his list is a veritable “Who’s Who” of BCS powerhouses that might require Yakko Warner to adequately cover in totality. A short list: Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Penn State, and Southern Cal. Michigan also offered him a scholarship, but I’m sure Wolverine fans will tell you they’d “cooled on him recently”.
A 6’3″ student athlete, Anzalone played both linebacker and running back for his high school- after the jump, you can see his athletic ability on display (as well as his team’s ridiculous looking helmets… can’t win them all). I’m most impressed with his work on offense, his speed is evident as he pulls away from folks on numerous runs, and he will deliver punishment running the ball equally as easily as he does on D.
I also like to throw RS freshman Connor Crowell into that group since a leg injury prevented him from practicing last year as a part of the 2011 class.
Despite the quality freshmen group, there are still concerns moving forward- particularly with experienced depth.
Once seniors Etienne Sabino and Storm Klein graduate after this season, rising juniors Ryan Shazier and Curtis Grant will be the only scholarship linebackers left on the team with any meaningful experience- outside of whatever the group of freshmen gain in their first year.
This is largely due to the early and unplanned departures of players like Dorian Bell (transfer), Jonathan Newsome (transfer), Jordan Whiting (transfer), Scott McVey (medical hardship) and Ejuan Price (never enrolled).
Thanks to these departures, the 2012 class (plus Crowell) will be thrown into the fire immediately.
Based on history and the laws of probability, some youngsters will become stars and make an instant impact, some will be solid contributors, and some may not be with the program within a few years.
What does it all mean? Well, that was basically just a long way of saying that the search for talent at linebacker continues in the 2013 class and depth is still a concern that needs to be addressed.
Right now, it looks like the Buckeyes will take around 3 linebackers in 2013. None are currently committed.
Here is a look at the top prospects on the board.
Ohio State’s defense has been one of the most consistently excellent units in college football over the last decade.
Sadly, the 2011 season was a major bump in the road for the defense and the team. Needless to say, the Silver Bullets will be looking to get back on track in Urban Meyer’s first year as head coach.
There are some new faces on the defensive coaching staff to help out in that regard, but some familiar ones as well.
Luke Fickell is the primary holdover from the previous staff. He was the co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach under Tressel. He will basically be assuming the same roll under Meyer- with perhaps a bit more emphasis on being the primary coordinator.
The best case scenario will be if Fickell can continue to implement the defensive system that has worked so well over the past decade and combine that with some fresh ideas from the new staff to take the defense to an even higher level of excellence.
The talent is in place to do that this season, but depth is a major concern everywhere outside of the trenches. Additionally, the transition to new position coaches could create some unexpected problems in the first year.
Here is a look at some of the things to watch for at each position as the spring game approaches and the depth chart is sorted out.
After reviewing the defensive line yesterday, we move next to the linebackers. A position that has always been solid for the Silver Bullets regardless of graduations, replacing two starters from 2010 should not prevent this year’s group from being solid to spectacular once again.
The starting group of three has been set with little or no rotation since the first day of practice.
The second team has been a different story. Due to attrition this offseason (Jon Newsome, Dorian Bell) there has been plenty of rotation looking for the new back ups.
Despite the heavy rotation, there is plenty of talent that will be more than capable of backing up the starters.
Here is a player by player look at the two-deep. Read More
The Buckeyes lose two starters at linebacker in 2011, Brian Rolle in the middle and Ross Homan on the weak side.
The situation is remarkably similar to 2009, when Ohio State lost James Laurinaitis in the middle and Marcus Freeman on the weak side. Fortunately, the duo of Rolle and Homan proved more than capable replacements.
Over the years, that has been the pattern at Ohio State. Whenever linebackers leave, others step in with little to no drop off. 2011 should be no different as the linebacker wheel of awesome keeps on turning in Columbus.
There is a plethora of talent for the Buckeyes to work with, and as usual, it will be an exciting spring to see which linebackers separate themselves from the pack and how the coaches tweak the system to take advantage of the new talent.
Read on for a closer look at Ohio State’s linebackers in 2011. Read More
Strong linebacker play has been a trademark of Ohio State football for decades. While another school may have been given the title ‘Linebacker U’, few teams have matched the consistent excellence Buckeyes have brought to the position.
At the start of the season, Ohio State had two sure things at linebacker in Ross Homan and Brian Rolle, and one pretty big question mark on the strong side. Given recent history at the position and the talent waiting in the wings, however, there was little question that the Buckeyes would successfully fill the void.
Determining exactly who would fill that void was one of the more interesting stories of the off season. Etienne Sabino appeared to have the spot locked up following the spring, but Andrew Sweat returned from injury in the fall and quickly passed Sabino on the depth chart.
In a surprise move by the coaches, Sabino went from the presumed starter to taking a redshirt year. Saving Sabino’s eligibility will benefit depth in the future, but made him a non-factor for the 2010 season.
Even with Sabino out of the picture, Ohio State still had plenty of talent and depth in 2010. Here’s a look at how the Buckeye linebackers performed this season. Read More
Long time readers (if there are any of you out there) know that linebacker is my favorite position, so this should be fun. Adding to the fun is the absolutely ridiculous amount of talent that the Buckeyes are packing in the linebacking corps right now.
Ohio State has depth, experience, talent, youth, and probably a few other things at linebacker going in to next year.
The only loss from last year is fifth year senior Austin Spitler.
Spitler was a solid performer for the Buckeyes last season (38 tackles, 5 tfl, 1 sack), and he did have some great moments, but there are several players waiting in the wings to take his place, and if there is any drop off at all, it should be minimal.
It can’t be overstated how much talent Ohio State has here. So rather than getting out a thesaurus and trying to find some creative adjectives, I will simply jump right in.
Join me after the jump for an in depth look at the 2010 Buckeye linebackers.