Ohio State Buckeyes: Michael Hill

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Breaking down the positions and players who have the most to prove as No. 2 Ohio State opens the season on Saturday against Buffalo (TV: ESPN2, noon).

FIRST DOWN: Defensive tackles

Michael Bennett
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesThe Buckeyes feel good about their DEs, but Michael Bennett and the rest of the Ohio State DTs have something to prove.
The broken bone in Tommy Schutt's foot has thrown another wrench in the rebuilding project for the Buckeyes up front, and they reacted to it swiftly by shuffling Chase Farris back over to defense from the offensive line.

Schutt wasn't listed as a starter on the depth chart for the opener, but the sophomore impressed in limited action last season and had turned in a productive training camp before the injury bug bit him again on Monday. The Buckeyes know what life is like without Schutt after ankle issues limited him throughout spring, but for a unit that is replacing all four starters, having everybody healthy and ready to contribute was obviously important.

Ohio State has no shortage of confidence in Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington at end, but in some respects Joel Hale and Michael Bennett are still unknown quantities despite having been in the program for a couple years. Now with Schutt out and Farris moving to fill the void, the pressure is ramped up for a newcomer such as Michael Hill or sophomore Chris Carter.

SECOND DOWN: Freshmen skill players

The Buckeyes have no shortage of pieces returning from the Big Ten's best offense a season ago, but it's the fresh additions that figure to allow Urban Meyer to truly unleash his spread attack this fall.

They still have to prove themselves in a game though, and Dontre Wilson, Ezekiel Elliott and Jalin Marshall are all likely to touch the ball a few times as the Buckeyes evaluate what they have in what is shaping up to be an offensive class capable of making an early impact.

Wilson, in particular, could get his hands on the football right away with Ohio State trotting him out to return kickoffs. His electric speed could be put on display early, but the Buckeyes will really be watching him closely in the H-back role as they try to add more diversity to the playbook.

THIRD DOWN: Cornerbacks

The starting job Armani Reeves is filling this week is only temporary, and the sophomore is well aware of that. But he's got a huge opportunity to impress with Bradley Roby sitting out his one-game suspension, and potentially down the road it might help him make a push for the other first-team job at cornerback.

Doran Grant has something to prove himself after playing minimally in reserve of Roby and Travis Howard a year ago, so the junior bears monitoring as well as he transitions into the starting lineup. There hasn't been any question about the pecking order since spring -- with Roby and Grant leading the way for a talented, deep secondary -- but only one career start separates Grant from Reeves. Both would benefit from making a strong first impression against the Bulls.

FOURTH DOWN: Braxton Miller's arm

The reviews have been overwhelmingly positive for the junior's development as a passer, and he publicly lobbied after practice to air the ball out at least 25 times -- then joked that he would call his own plays to get to 30.

If Miller is eager to show off the improvements he's made mechanically both in terms of accuracy and his footwork, the Buckeyes would certainly like to get a gauge of how far he's come in a meaningful setting as well.

There's been little doubt since a productive spring game that Miller is sharper and more confident delivering the football, and he's only had more time to fine tune his arm since then. The Buckeyes were far from a balanced offense last season, rushing twice as often as they passed, with Miller's skills as a runner helping drive up the margin.

But if his arm has managed to make up some ground with his feet, the offense could be unpredictable with what it could do on any down, making it a nightmare to try to defend.
Throughout the next few months, BuckeyeNation will look further into those juniors offered by Ohio State.

We’ll give as much detail as we can and go behind the scenes to see why these Class of 2014 standouts are so attractive to the Buckeyes.


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Derek Barnett (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood Academy) might already know what it’s like to play for Ohio State.

The 6-foot-3, 269-pound defensive end can’t help himself because he received an earful from his grandfather Gerald Kasunic growing up. See, Kasunic played for the Buckeyes in the early 1960s so the scarlet and gray has always been a topic of discussion in the Barnett household.

A fan of the Buckeyes, Barnett has heard the stories. Just how many, he’s not sure.

So when Ohio State called with an offer on Wednesday, it took him back a bit.


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videoCOLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State’s defensive line should need no introduction over the next few seasons.

From Noah Spence to Adolphus Washington to Michael Bennett to Joel Hale to Steve Miller to J.T. Moore, the names stick out and are full of potential.

Throw in Chris Carter and Tommy Schutt with newcomers Joey Bosa, Tyquan Lewis, Michael Hill, Donovan Munger, Billy Price and Tracy Sprinkle and the future looks bright.

So why would defensive end Dylan Thompson (Lombard, Ill./Montini Catholic) throw his name in the mix and join the 2014 pledges as future Buckeyes?


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Throughout the next few months, BuckeyeNation will look further into those juniors offered by Ohio State. We’ll give as much detail as we can and go behind the scenes to see why these Class of 2014 standouts are so attractive to the Buckeyes. Next on the list is defensive tackle Dylan Thompson, who hails from the same high school as former Buckeyes nose tackle Garrett Goebel.

Vitals: Dylan Thompson (Lombard, Ill./Montini Catholic) is 6-foot-5 and 274 pounds.

Status: He committed to Ohio State on March 23 during an unofficial visit.


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When juniors put up the type of numbers Poona Ford (Hilton Head, S.C./Hilton Head) registered last season, it’s hard not to notice.

Few haven’t, as the 6-foot, 285-pound defensive tackle now counts over 15 offers with the latest coming from Ohio State on Wednesday.


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Ohio State is nothing new to ESPN Watch List defensive end Verondtae Wilkinson (Trotwood, Ohio/Trotwood-Madison), but the Buckeyes certainly opened his eyes on Thursday.

In town for an unofficial visit, Wilkinson thought he knew the ins and outs of Ohio State. His former teammate Cam Burrows is now a cornerback for the Buckeyes, so it should have been the same old same old right?

Wrong.


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It’s time to dip into the BuckeyeNation recruiting mailbag and answer some of your questions.

We’ll try to keep to five questions a week to give everyone a chance to get their answers.

We encourage you to send your questions by Twitter at @bbournival, e-mail at brad.bournival.espn@gmail.com or by posting a question in the Horseshoe Pit forum.

Here’s the latest installment.


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State of the Rivalry: Defensive line 

February, 26, 2013
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The writers at WolverineNation and BuckeyeNation put their heads together to break down the rivals' 2013 recruiting classes. They'll give readers a position-by-position look at who coaches Brady Hoke and Urban Meyer signed and, ultimately, which class edged out the other. It's too early to say what will happen through the next few seasons, and we won't make any promises except that Hoke and Meyer are going to put talent on the field.


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Spring forward: DTs breakdown

February, 21, 2013
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Johnathan HankinsEric Francis/Getty ImagesOhio State will have to find a way to replace Johnathan Hankins.
With national signing day in the books, the next big date on the Ohio State calendar as it continues working toward an encore for an undefeated season in 2013 is spring practice. Before those workouts begin, BuckeyeNation will take a look at each position to see where the roster is at -- and where it's going.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

    • Who's back: The void in the middle of the defensive line is substantial, but that doesn't mean it's likely to become a black hole for Ohio State as it transitions to life without Johnathan Hankins and Garrett Goebel. Losing a talent like Hankins early to the NFL draft was a major blow to the defense even if it was expected, and Goebel's senior season was quietly productive and steady even if it wasn't flashy as the combination of the two big guys plugged gaps and often made rushing up the middle a fruitless proposition for opponents. But there are talented guys in reserve up front, even if there doesn't appear to be all that much depth heading into spring practice. Michael Bennett and his versatile set of skills will be put to use on the interior, and junior Joel Hale and sophomore Tommy Schutt both have the ability to handle the first-team load after filling in off the bench a year ago. Those three guys will be the focal point, charged with picking up where Hankins and Goebel left off.
    • New face: The Buckeyes have two recent signees already on campus and ready to go to work in the spring, though both are listed as defensive ends and don't appear to have the size needed to battle at the interior spots. But either way, Tracy Sprinkle (6-foot-2, 241 pounds) and Tyquan Lewis (6-foot-3, 223) could potentially allow line coach Mike Vrabel to tinker with his rotation a bit, particularly with somebody like inside-outside guy Adolphus Washington who is capable of playing multiple positions. Natural tackles Michael Hill, Joey Bosa, Billy Price and Donovan Munger will bulk up the group in August.

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2014 Michigan DE picks Buckeyes 

February, 10, 2013
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Urban Meyer picked up his second junior in the trenches and raided Michigan again.


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BuckeyeNation signing day recap

February, 6, 2013
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We can almost put a bow on the 2013 recruiting class -- punter Johnny Townsend has not signed his letter of intent and is apparently having second thoughts -- and it was one of the best recruiting classes in school history.

The Buckeyes signed 24 players and finished third in the ESPN class rankings behind SEC powers Alabama and Florida, with 19 of the 24 signees at four stars or more.

Here's a recap of how the day unfolded. Follow the live blog after the jump.

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Urban Meyer builds in the trenches to win championships.

One look at how Florida completely dismantled Ohio State from a defensive standpoint in the national championship game after the 2006 season shows the blueprint.

He piles up defensive linemen in recruiting and wears the competition into submission with a rotating front.

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The Horseshoe isn’t the only place Ohio State beat Michigan this season, as the Buckeyes’ 2013 recruiting class is currently ahead of the Wolverines after the final ESPN 150 and 300 lists were released.


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If fans don’t know about many of the Ohio State commitments in the recruiting class of 2013, it might be a good idea to watch some of the all-star games this weekend as nine pledges will be in action with a 10th getting recognized as well.

The sixth annual Under Armour All-America Game leads things off Friday with some of the biggest names, as defensive tackle Joey Bosa (70 tackles, 9 sacks), cornerback Cam Burrows (39 tackles, 14 pass breakups, fumble recovery), athlete Jalin Marshall (2,186 total yards, 25 Tds) and two-way star Gareon Conley (1,096 receiving yards, 16 Tds, 25 tackles, 2 fumble recoveries, interception) headline the event.

Also joining the four ESPN 150 seniors will be ESPN 300 tight end Marcus Baugh (38 catches, 610 yards, 4 Tds). Baugh showed up big for the Buckeyes on Wednesday when he won the American Family Insurance Skills Challenge at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports for offensive and defensive linemen.

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In a conversation with ESPN's Antonietta Collins, national recruiting reporter Gerry Hamilton breaks down the recruiting momentum building at Auburn and offers predictions for where the top 10 recruits will commit.Tags: Trenton Thompson, Kerryon Johnson, Jeffery Holland, Martez Ivey, Torrance Gibson, Cece Jefferson, ESPN 300, RecruitingNation, high school football recruiting, Gerry Hamilton
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