- Austin Ward, ESPN Staff Writer
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Training camp is over and game preparations have begun. The torture of the offseason is nearly over, and Ohio State's first game under Urban Meyer is closing in. Leading up to the opener against Miami (Ohio), BuckeyeNation will count down the 10 players who figure to have the biggest impact on Meyer's first campaign, hitting the homestretch with the man in the middle of the defensive line.
POSITION: Defensive tackle
BASICS: The big man up front is tipping the scales with 322 pounds on his 6-foot-3 frame this fall, but he's lost none of his nimble footwork or quickness as he prepares for a junior season that could make him a first-round draft pick if he elects to head to the NFL early.
BY THE NUMBERS: Playing on the interior and facing plenty of attention from opposing offensive linemen, Hankins finished fourth in tackles for the Buckeyes last season. He also established himself as a disruptive force in the backfield with 11 takedowns for a loss, which helped start the buzz about his professional prospects as he continues to develop.
OPPORTUNITY FOR IMPACT: Hankins will no doubt benefit from the offseason he had to build his strength and improve his conditioning, but the biggest lift might come from the hard work of the guy beside him on the inside. Garrett Goebel's play in training camp has drawn rave reviews from the coaching staff, and Hankins is also aware that the senior's ability to occupy double-teams at nose tackle could free him up to make even more plays this fall.
HE SAID IT: "You never know when somebody is going to go down and you might need to play one of those spots. With me, I’ve played outside and inside, and just knowing the defense gives you a better edge -- knowing your assignment and what the other guy has to do, gives you a potential edge in the game. Knowing everything is an advantage." -- Hankins, on versatility in the trenches
2dJosh Moyer and Dan Murphy