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Aug. 19, 2016 - DJ Boyer

2016 Fierce 40 Previews: #6 Ohio State

#6 Ohio State Buckeyes

2015 Recap:
One slip against Michigan State was all it took to have the Buckeyes on the outside looking in as far as the BCS Playoff as Ohio State did not get the opportunity to defend their title. Ohio State wound up running through Notre Dame in the FIesta Bowl 44-28 to go 12-1 on the season.

Urban Meyer has not always struck us as a truthful coach that is always on the up and up. He is sometimes a lightning rod for controversy but you can't argue with the results. Meyer has won EVERYWHERE he has been and there are many that feel it is either he or Nick Saban that is THE best coach at the FBS level. The key number here is in the number of losses Meyer averages in a season. In four years coaching the Buckeyes, Meyer is an unthinkable 50-4.


The Buckeyes have a lot of pieces to replace on the offensive side of the football with only three returning starters with two along the line and the quarterback. The line will see Billy Price at guard where he is dominant and perhaps the most dominant guard on the team, Pat Elflein, will move into the center spot to make room for Demetrius Knox. Jamarco Jones looks to be the next in line as a dominant tackle at Ohio State while the rest of the line will see multiple combinations and players to start the season. J.T. Barrett now has a firm grip on the starting job with Cardale Jones departing for the NFL. Barrett brings a lot of running ability to the team as does new starter, freshman Mike Weber. Weber will not be alone with Brionte Dunn and Curtis Samuel there to spell him from time to time or show a change of pace to the opposing defense. Corey Smith is the receiver with the most pro potential coming back and he will start along side Samuel and Noah Brown. Samuel plays the role of H-back and will even line up as a tight end as Marcus Baugh takes over the full time duties there.

Best Draft Prospects: Pat Elfein OG/C 1st Round 2017.

                                       Corey Smith WR 2nd Round 2017.


The defense ranked 9th nationally a season ago and was second in the Big Ten in scoring defense allowing 15.1 PPG. Just like the offense, the defense returns only three starters from a season ago. The difference here is there is vastly more depth on defense and a number of players who may not have been starters, but saw significant time on the field last season. Raekwon McMillan is now the leader of this defense at middle linebacker and the junior looks like a prospect who could leave early and challenge to be the first inside linebacker off the board when April rolls around. Sam Hubbard is an example of a player who is very experienced despite not being a returning starter. Hubbard could be an All Big Ten player by the end of the year along with returning end Tyquan Lewis. Michael Hill and Tracy Sprinkle inside will tell the tale of the line. Both are immensly taleneted but have yet to see vast amounts of concurrent time on the field and are a bit of a question mark. The secondary is always top notch and safety Erik Smith should be the leader and next great Buckeye player from the secondary to reach the NFL and perform well.

Best Draft Prospects: Raekwon McMillan LB 1st Round 2017 (Early Declaration Candidate).

                                      Tyquan Lewis DE 2nd Round 2018.

Special Teams:

Sean Nuernberger is an experienced kicker, although we know Urban Meyer and his disdain for kicking field goals. Cameron Johnston is good enough to be punting at the NFL level and the senior will get some looks if he has another big season. The return jobs are kick of up in the air right now but Ohio State failed to return a kickoff opr punt for a touchdown for the first time since 2003. Look for that streak to be short lived.


The first road test is a big one going to Oklahoma on September 17th. Wisconsin and Penn State travels in the middle of October could be tricky as Ohio State cannot be caught looking ahead. Michigan State and Michigan will be the last two games of the season as the Buckeyes go into East Lansing trying to extract revenge and then they have the grudge match with the Wolverines. Running the table seems very unlikely but Ohio State should be considered favorites for the Big Ten Title.

Draft and Overall Outlook:

All you had to do was watch the 2016 Draft to see the state of the Buckeyes and their player development. Ohio State had five players selected in the first round, the second most ever (a feat they replicated in 2006). Ohio State has 74 career 1st round picks, second only to USC and their 79. The overall outlook is as strong as ever.


DJ Boyer