Yesterday we took a look at which five offensive playmakers could potentially have a direct influence on Ohio State's 2012 football fate. Accordingly we fill in the other half of the puzzle by taking a gander at which quintet of the defensive disruptive variety could impact how the Buckeyes' season plays out.
Per the zeitgeist, Ohio State should possess arguably the best defensive line in the entire country this season. What if I were to tell you that forming a unit almost solely composed of individuals from the Bucks' 2012 recruiting class would give you a group right off the bat not only capable of breaching the upper echelon of the sport, but one that in two to three seasons would repeat the feat?
That's just one element of a group that could easily become the bedrock for a national title contender in 2013 and/or 2014.
Najee Murray, DB
With a unique skill set so electric that at one point Urban Meyer and company were considering leveraging his abilities to fill the void at the Pivot position during Jordan Hall's multiple game absence, Murray of late has played his way out of consideration -- by being too damn good defensively.
The 5'11" 180 lb athlete turned DB has all the makings of an impact defensive back for seasons to come for the Buckeyes. While his exact role defensively varies on who you talk to, the end result of Murray streaking down the field avoiding the opposing offense's best efforts to tackle him could become common place in Columbus in the not too distant future.
Adolphus Washington, DT
The mutant one-time high school DE will terrorize opposing interior linemen and quarterbacks alike for the next several years. On the heels of his ascension, a man who'd know a thing or two about inflicting pain on opposing signal callers, Johnathan Hankins, decreed that Washington was "a heck of a pass rusher, I know that for a fact."
Washington's supposedly down to around 285-290 and stronger and faster than ever (/fall camp cliches). Should opposing lines underestimate his sheer ability on account of his relative inexperience, they'll quickly come to regret it.
Se'Von Pittman, DE
In the land of the blindside, the one eyed (e.g. tunnel vision) Pitt is king. Along with Washington and fellow frosh d-lineman Tommy Schutt, Pittman is widely expected amongst the next Buckeye freshmen to lose their black stripe and become full fledged Ohio State defenders.
With plenty of praise already from position coach Mike Vrabel, Pittman can begin a legacy of imposing his will on opposing QBs and helping the collective efforts to take pressure off what was sometimes a shaky secondary in 2011.
David Perkins, LB
Another name making the shortlist of just about any list of high praise from any of Ohio State's defensive coaches is that of South Bend, Indiana product David Perkins. Having already established a reputation as a "fly and hit someone" type, the freshman should continue to give Meyer and Luke Fickell plenty of reasons to throw him into the fire during the early going.
With a legacy of ball hawk types at linebacker, Perkins' consistent great efforts in practice could ultimately translate to game situations helping him land him amongst the better linebackers in recent Ohio State history.
Noah Spence, DE
Despite being the second Buckeye to lose their stripe, Spence has quickly earned a reputation amongst offensive linemen for being one of the most challenging to block. Opposing tackles and guards should learn similar lessons in but a few short weeks.
One of the most highly decorated in the entire 2012 class, the Harrisburg, PA defensive end might just have the highest ceiling amongst an otherworldly talented group of incoming freshmen. Should he completely absorb the defensive playbook, tired tackles having been rushed by the likes of Nathan Williams and John Simon may find themselves at their wits end having to deal with a completely fresh Spence coming off the edge.
So there you have it. Contentious, no? The first man to lose his stripe, DB De'van Bogard, is reduced to but honorable mention status along with one of the guys widely expected to be next in DT Tommy Schutt, and two guys *actually* at present on the two-deep depth chart in Josh Perry and Luke Roberts. Camren Williams is absurdly talented to boot.
Say what you will, but this is one of the deepest and most talented group of incoming football players Ohio State's seen in a long time. Will it be enough to take Ohio State where its demanding fans want it to?