The 2013 Ohio State senior class has a chance to finish off what would be a two-season long unbeaten streak that is itself an amazing feat, particularly when you think back to all of the turmoil that preceded the magical run spearheaded by Urban Meyer. After Terrelle Pryor led the Buckeyes to a 2011 Sugar Bowl victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks (that happened right? I swear I remember this happening), Ohio State partisans expected a national championship contender the following season. No one could have foreseen the lingering months of scandal coming from the infamous tattoo-gate scandal or the ultimate resignation of one of the best coaches to cross the field at Ohio Stadium. This group of players was there for all the chaos and now they have a chance to take the program to a place they have not been to in over a decade.
Head coach Urban Meyer's said he will not let anyone forget the class of 2012, and rightfully so. Last year's group of seniors had the ultimate challenge of following through with the responsibilities of leading a team to victory week in and feel out even though there really was nothing to play for due to the one-year bowl sanction. This group of seniors, however, has taken the example set by their predecessors and become leaders in their own right.
Meyer has even praised the emergence of senior wide receiver Corey Brown as one of the main voices in the locker room this season. On a cold and dreary day in Ohio Stadium on October 19th, the Buckeyes were playing a very lackluster game against the Iowa Hawkeyes. Trailing 17-10 at halftime, Brown took it upon himself to address the team before Meyer got a chance to light the team up. It's safe to say that Brown has come a long way from being a freshman who received his nickname "Philly" from then Coach Jim Tressel.
The 2013 Buckeye offense is an upperclassman heavy bunch and this makes it no surprise that they've carried this team to its current 10-0 record. The Buckeyes rank fourth in the country in scoring offense and rushing offense, led by senior tailback Carlos Hyde who is only 53 yards shy of becoming Urban Meyer's first 1,000-yard running back and an offensive line that has started four seniors all season. For all that has been said about Hyde, many people tend to forget about his often partner at tailback, Jordan Hall. Hall came to Ohio State not long after his high school teammate Terrelle Pryor from Jeannette, PA and played alongside Pryor in some huge Big Ten and BCS battles. Hall's battle with injuries late in his career have often kept him sidelined, but it's important that the running back will get to finish his sixth season strong and help his team pull out a victory in his final home game. The emotions will be flowing for Hall and his teammates but it may not even hit them until game time:
Last home game. Idk when it'll hit me— Jordan Hall (@JordanHall_2) November 22, 2013
Possibly the best story on the Ohio State team is senior quarterback Kenny Guiton. Aside from being the most popular guy on campus, Guiton has emerged as a leader from the back up quarterback position and a legitimate NFL prospect. If only Kenny Guiton could write a tell all book.
Guiton is probably the one guy on the team that could tell you everything about all the scandalous things that happen behind the scenes in Columbus. The senior gunslinger backed up Terrelle Pryor and hung in there when he was passed up on the depth chart in 2011 by a freshman Braxton Miller and by the curious case of Joe Bauserman. All the while, Guiton sat quietly and continued to light up the spring game seemingly year after year. He continued to stay ready for when his time would come.
That time came Saturday October 20th of last year, when Guiton was called upon to relieve an injured Braxton Miller late in a home game against Purdue trailing 22-14. No Ohio State fan will ever forget Kenny G's epic tying touchdown and 2-point conversion that kept OSU's undefeated season alive. In three starts and some spot duty this season, Guiton has thrown for 749 yards and 14 touchdowns. Not too shabby for a guy who Urban Meyer didn't think particularly highly of when he first got to Columbus. It should be an emotional day on Saturday for Guiton, and if any of his magic is needed you can best believe he will be ready to step in on a moment's notice.
The defensive side of the ball took a huge blow to start off the Big Ten season when senior captain Christian Bryant broke his ankle near the end of a 31-24 victory over Wisconsin at home. Coach Urban Meyer was obviously hurt about the loss of Bryant when he slammed the podium in disgust after the game. Bryant's leadership meant so much to the team that teammate Ryan Shazier wears Bryant's No. 2 proudly every Saturday. I would suspect that Bryant may be called out last or near last when the seniors are honored, not unlike John Simon was honored before the Ohio State-Michigan game last season. It still remains to be seen if Shazier will return for his senior season at Ohio State, but fourth-year junior cornerback Bradley Roby has already announced that this will be his final season in Columbus and he will walk with the seniors Saturday afternoon. Roby's lockdown cover skills will be missed just as much as the other 16 seniors playing their final game in Ohio Stadium.
Senior Day is often emotional at Ohio State, but this group especially needs to be recognized for having bought into exactly what Urban Meyer has sold them from day one. Each player took on a leadership role that they may not have known they were capable of, but each has given their all in order to bring Ohio State football back to prominence faster than many could have seen coming after a 6-7 2011 season.
Here's to the Ohio State football class of '13.