From a program that has produced several quality linebackers over the last decade, a lot is expected from this unit. Players like James Laurinaitis, AJ Hawk, Brian Rolle, Bobby Carpenter, and Ross Homan have all starred in this unit and for the first time in several years there is no clear cut star present.
Ohio State appears to have at least one dynamic playmaker here, in what was a sore spot in 2011. But the Buckeyes need more than one, and it’s not clear whether they have another.
Ryan Shazier (6-1, 226) was a surprise last season as a true freshman. He converted from safety and showcased speed and aggressiveness resulting in a 57-tackle, three-sack, two-forced fumble season.Listed at 212 pounds last season, Shazier added about 15 pounds in the offseason. He enters the season as the starter on the weak side.
Etienne Sabino (6-3, 237), a senior, gets a final chance to make a good impression after four up and down years, including taking a redshirt season as a healthy third-year player. Early in his career, his problem was not grasping the system well enough to use his natural abilities. Late last year, he came on and had a good performance in the Gator Bowl. He ended spring atop the depth chart at the strong-side spot.
Curtis Grant (6-3, 235) came in last year very highly rated but didnt factor as a freshman. He showed some flashes in spring before a pinched nerve forced him to sit out, but he enters fall camp as the starter in the middle.
“He over-analyzed everything a year ago,” Meyer said. “He didn’t play very fast. He was, I don’t want to say depressed, but he wasn’t enjoying football.”
Senior Storm Klein was dismissed from the team leaving a hole that needs to be filled. Because the Buckeyes are thin on experience here, two freshmen, Luke Roberts (6-1, 226) and Joshua Perry (6-4, 231), could see immediate playing time.
Overall Grade: C
This unit is very thin depth wise and is inexperienced. There is upside and potential in the form of Ryan Shazier, and if Sabino can finally perform to his abilities the unit may have a decent season, but until that is season this is one of Ohio State’s weakest units, if not the weakest.
About the Author
Written by Jimmy Martinez
I am a recent graduate of The Ohio State University. I currently live in Columbus, OH, but am originally from Derwood, Maryland.