Breaking Down The Ohio State Depth Chart Heading Into Camp

The dawn of the Meyer era is upon us.

The 2012 Big Ten Media Days have wrapped things up in Chicago and Friday Night Lights has come and passed. That can only mean college football season is right around the corner. One of the many activities to help alleviate the agony felt by a majority of college football fans until the start of the season arrives is to constantly comb through their favorite team's depth chart to see who will be the new faces of the team for the upcoming season.

For Ohio State, coming off of a disappointing 6-6 season in 2011, changes were to be expected when Urban Meyer arrived. After some initial dismissals, much of the squad returns wholly unchanged. After signing a top 10 recruiting class for the class of '12, the depth chart should surely see some sort of a mix of senior veterans and true freshmen.

So far this year, the Buckeyes have released a couple of differences for every new depth chart, signifying the position battles taking place behind the scenes (or at least politically in the coaches' offices). Now with the latest depth chart being released and only a month and a half to go until the college season begins, Buckeye fans are beginning to piece together what the team may look like from a personnel standpoint.

So where does the Ohio State football team stand heading into fall camp? Let's check it out:

Quarterback

  1. Braxton Miller
  2. Kenny Guiton

Coach Meyer keeps going on and on about how he has two quarterbacks. Given an inopportune injury, and Ohio State could need them. Guiton has shown a lot of improvement from the time he arrived on the Ohio State campus and his growth has shown in spring games. Miller will always get thefirst nod, but there is faith that if (god forbid) Braxton goes down during the season at any point that Kenny G can provide the appropriate skills to lead and control the offense.

As for many wondering about Cardale Jones, the more news we hear about him, the worse it gets. The latest gossip making the rounds are rumors of him transferring at some point during as early as this season (if he even makes it through camp). Rumors of course aren't facts, as we have learned in the past, so it's hard to pass judgement just quite yet. It's clear at this point Jones has much bigger fish to fry than battling for playing time.

Running Back

  1. Jordan Hall
  2. Carlos Hyde

Keep in mind that Ohio State only releases a two-deep (and thus what we're constraining ourselves to), so don't think that Bri'onte Dunn isn't going to see a lot of carries this year (UPDATE: since writing this, Dunn's given us more and more reason to think Warren Ball might be avoiding a redshirt as well). Jordan Hall's foot-injury hasn't stopped him from being nominated to the Doak Walker award watch list or not keep him number one on the depth chart (at least until we get closer to Miami week, anyways). Meyer commented on the injury at Media Days, giving hope that Hall may not be out for more than 2 games.

Hyde has been a monster and his spot is well deserved. Rod Smith's situation is an odd one. The staff is still interested to see what he can bring to the table, but it's too expect too much from him this season. It's crazy to believe that after losing some key fumbles against in-state opponent Toledo, that's really the last time we saw Smith in action.

Fullback

  1. Zach Boren
  2. Adam Homan

From a personal standpoint, I'm excited for what's to come for Zach Boren. The Boren trio (Justin graduated in 2009) has been outstanding when it comes to work ethic and providing the right attitude for leadership roles for Ohio State.

During the B1G Media Days this past week, it was reported that Boren had lost 25 pounds and feels quicker and stronger. Boren has been a tremendous asset for Ohio State during a time when fullbacks, in general, are slowly disappearing from the sport. Zach has been making his case to prove they aren't done yet and he has certainly turned many of us into believers. The ceiling is certainly high for him this season.

Wide Receiver (H)

  1. Corey "Philly" Brown
  2. Chris Fields

2012 has all the makings to be Philly Brown's breakout year. He's got all the talent and natural speed but now he has the means to utilize it with Urban Meyer and Tom Herman's offense. With few obstacles in the way standing between him and realizing his potential as a Buckeye, 2012 could very easily determine Brown's legacy with Ohio State. He's shown flashes during the past two seasons, but there's no doubt he needs to be the leader of this receiving core. Fields is a junior and while you may see him filling in at times for certain packages, you'll probably mostly see him returning punts again this season.

Wide Receiver (Z)

  1. Evan Spencer
  2. Verlon Reed

Perhaps one of the more intriguing battles on the depth chart this season is that of the Z position at wide receiver. You have a lot of raw talent here, but nothing set in stone to be sure. For now, Evan Spencer is penciled in as the starter, maintaining that spot from previously released depth charts. Spencer is a rising sophomore and after a mostly quiet year in 2011(let's not act like this didn't happen) , we should be glad to see him show some competitiveness for that starting spot.

Verlon Reed started the 2011 season as a starter and was solid, if nothing else. Mostly struggling with catching the ball (which, to be fair, it seemed like no one could at times last season), Reed was still the team's 2nd leading receiver when during a game against Michigan State, he suffered a season-ending ACL tear. What will become of the former high school quarterback is yet to be determined, but he still has a decent shot at some playing time this year.

Wide Receiver (X)

  1. Devin Smith
  2. Michael Thomas

The X position is locked in with Devin Smith in the starting role and Michael Thomas playing backup duty. Don't read too much into this, though, as there is no doubt that Urban Meyer and his staff want Thomas on the field a lot this fall.

Smith is coming back as the team's leading receiver in yardage and touchdowns, with plenty of room to improve. Hopes are high for Smith after last season and there's no reason not to be optimistic about the level of play he can bring to the table.

Tight End

  1. Jake Stoneburner
  2. Jeff Heuerman OR Nick Vannett

Even after the recent suspensions to senior leaders Jake Stoneburner and Jack Mewhort, Urban Meyer still has the two starting on the depth chart. Truthfully, Buckeye fans should be breathing a sigh of relief that both should be back in time for the season to begin. Stoneburner is set to have a monumental season and perhaps being able to be the first tight end from Ohio State to be frequently used during games.

Both Heuerman and Vannett have proven their worth in Meyer's eyes during camp to share the responsibility of backing up Stoneburner while also being included in some certain packages as Meyer sees fit.

Offensive Line

From right to left:

  1. Reid Fragel, Marcus Hall, Corey Linsley, Andrew Norwell, Jack Mewhort
  2. Taylor Decker, Antonio Underwood, Jacoby Boren, Tommy Brown, Daryl Baldwin

One of the main positional concerns for Urban taking over the program at Ohio State was the offensive line. Quickly adding (and flipping) some commits in the class of '12, Meyer has removed some of the panic felt from Buckeye fans around Ohio, but still sets out to focus on grabbing some offensive tackles in the '13 and '14 classes.

The offensive line itself hasn't changed from the previous depth chart, but improvement from Reid Fragel has been pretty fast, considering just last year he was a tight end. Taylor Decker and Jacoby Boren are impressing the staff the most as far as underclassmen go on the offensive line. Unfortunately, Boren will be missing the start of fall camp due to injury.

Defensive Line

  1. John Simon, Garrett Goebel, Johnathan Hankins, Adam Bellamy OR Nathan Williams
  2. Steve Miller OR J.T. Moore, Joel Hale OR Chris Carter, Michael Bennett, Chase Farris

By far the most impressive position for Ohio State this season is the defensive line. As you see above, the depth chart lists 11 players in total. These are without true freshmen Adolphus Washington, Noah Spence, Jamal Marcus, Tommy Schutt and Se'von Pittman. Just those freshmen could be downright terrifying for an opposing team's offense.

There is no doubt that this group has the chance to be something great. This is to be senior John Simon's last year in a Buckeye uniform and you know he's going to go out with a bang. Every player listed above has outstanding ability and their performances should be elevated by the fact that they know so many talented folks are waiting in the wings behind them. Meyer in particular has called Simon and Hankins "SEC players. No question."

Linebacker

  1. Etienne Sabino, Curtis Grant, Ryan Shazier
  2. Stewart Smith OR Joshua Perry, Connor Crowell, Luke Roberts OR Connor Crowell

The starting linebackers are set for the season. This position won't change unless some sort of injury takes place. Sabino is the only senior starting and has to be a vocal leader for this linebacker core. Grant is a first-year starter and expectations are high after fans have been clamoring to see more from the former 5-star recruit.

Connor Crowell has exceeded expectations this year, earning a lot of praise from the coaching staff. The hard work has paid off, as Crowell looks to be the immediate substitution for either Grant or Shazier in case one of them needs a rest or is unable to perform.

Defensive Back

Corner, right to left:

  1. Travis Howard OR Doran Grant, Bradley Roby
  2. Travis Howard OR Doran Grant, Adam Griffin

Bradley Roby returns after a phenomenal freshman year giving hope that he can become one of the country's best defensive backs. His style of play is surprisingly physical, despite only standing 5'11", 190 lbs. One of the fastest players on the team, Roby is set for a major year in 2012.

Whoever ends up winning the battle between Grant and Howard will start, while the other will be relegated to mostly situational/back up duties. The surprise in this position is the rise of Doran Grant. Highly recruited out of the state of Ohio, Grant can play both ways on offense and defense, but to be able to push against senior Travis Howard on the depth chart tells a lot about what the coaches think he's capable of.

Free Safety:

  1. Christian Bryant
  2. Corey "Pittsburgh" Brown

Strong Safety:

  1. C.J. Barnett
  2. Orhian Johnson
The safety position isn't as strong as it may appear at first glance. While Bryant and Barnett are the clear starters, the juniors have to continue to improve from their 2011 performances. There's plenty of experience between the two and it's unlikely they will enter the draft after this year, giving even more reason for optimism in 2013 than 2012.

Brown and Johnson back them up. Brown doesn't yet possess a depth of meaningful playing experience for the Buckeyes, but Johnson got plenty of looks last season. Despite these chances to perform, Johnson often struggled and will have to show the staff a reason to put him on the field.

Special Teams

Punter:
  1. Ben Buchanan
  2. Drew Basil
Ben Buchanan returns as the punter after a solid junior season in which he averaged 41 yards per punt with a long of 66. Buchanan has done a great job of keeping a level head at all times and just doing his job. That's just about all anyone can ask for.

Kicker:
  1. Drew Basil
  2. Kyle Clinton
Returning junior Drew Basil has started to come into his own as the kind of kicking threat Buckeye fans have grown spoiled by. In 2011, Basil hit an impressive 16/19 of his field goals, good for an 84% make percentage. He did, however, miss one extra point for the season. And no, we have no idea which you're talking about. None at all.

You may not know about Kyle Clinton, so allow us introduce you to him. Clinton was a kicker for Ohio University and played every game for the Bobcats in 2010. He transferred to Ohio State in 2011, but wasn't on the football team until he walked on in January of 2012.

Snapping the ball for the Buckeyes in 2012 will be George Makridis, the redshirt junior from Warren, Ohio. Makridis held the job down last season for the Buckeyes taking care of all long-snapping duties.

The backup for Makridis is redshirt freshman Bryce Haynes. Haynes became a "recruiting star" after he took top honors in long snapping at a number of national camps following his senior season. He was also rated as the nation's top prep prospect at long-snapper.

What do you think of the latest depth chart? Is there anyone overrated or underrated?
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