- Austin Ward, ESPN Staff Writer
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Everybody is chasing the elite recruits, and championships aren't usually won unless there's a pretty impressive constellation of four- and five-star athletes on a roster.
But those guys also aren't typically solely responsible for taking a program to the next level, and it can often come down to which coaching staffs properly identify and develop the players without as much buzz coming out of high school -- or the ones intent on proving those doubts wrong at the next level.
BuckeyeNation is looking at five of those players on the Ohio State roster who will be key to making a title run, all of them capable of outplaying that three-star label.
No. 2: Bradley Roby
Who: Ohio State waited patiently for the process to play out, and when a decision was finally announced, it was good news from Bradley Roby. The redshirt junior's transition from a potential contributor at wide receiver when he was a high school prospect to an impact defender was already a success, but Roby made it quite clear that cornerback was the perfect position for him with the Buckeyes and in the NFL with his breakout season last fall, one that had him thinking about making an early leap to the draft. Instead he'll try to improve his craft in coverage even more while vying for a championship with Ohio State, and the coaching staff certainly was thrilled to hear he'd be back considering it was already facing the need to replace seven other starters.
Then: The signs of a big-play threat were there all along at Peachtree Ridge High School in Suwanee, Ga., but they seemed to be pointing to them coming on offense at that point. The scouting report raved about Roby's speed, pointed to his soft hands and praised his ability to track the deep ball among the many traits that could make him dangerous as a receiver for the Buckeyes. Pretty much all of those have been put on display since his redshirt year in 2010, though he's put them to use swatting away passes, coming up with critical interceptions and delivering touchdowns on special teams instead.
They said it: "Savvy receiver who knows how to work leverage. ... May get a look at corner as he flashes the great speed, body length and ball skills sought after as a perimeter defender. Overall, this is a guy who may be falling under the radar nationally and with some positional polish should develop into a very good wideout or corner at the major college level. We also like his ability to return kicks as well as cover them, showing his athleticism and versatility." -- RecruitingNation in 2010
Now: Few defensive backs in the country put together a resume as diverse and well-stocked as Roby's last season, and after breaking out the way he did while becoming an ESPN.com first-team All-America pick, it's understandable why he was thinking about moving on to the next level. But as productive as Roby was for the unbeaten Buckeyes, there are still some improvements that can be made technically in coverage and in terms of his study habits of opposing offenses. There also wasn't much buzz among scouts for Roby heading into last season, and with one big year under his belt now, he should be able to boost his draft stock with an encore.
5hJosh Moyer and Dan Murphy