When looking at the 2017 depth chart compared to the 2016 depth chart, there are noticeable holes, but the team is in a much better place now than it was entering the 2016 season after a mass exodus of NFL departures and graduation. Using key departures, spotlighting players at important positions, leadership qualities and recognizing the depth at each position, we came up with the 10 most important players on the team. They may not be the most heralded players, or even the best players, but they will be vital to this team’s on-field success.
No. 10: Sean Nuernberger
Position: Place kicker
2016 stats: After winning place kicking duties on the National Championship team as a true freshman in 2014, Nuernberger lost the job in 2015 to graduate transfer Jack Willoughby and then again in 2016 to Tyler Durbin, a former soccer player from James Madison.
Why he’s No. 10: After Nuernberger lost the 2016 kicking duties to Durbin, the former soccer player started his lone starting season by hitting his first 16 field goals, until the Michigan game where he went 1-for-3, before finishing the season 0-for-2 against Clemson. As we have learned throughout Urban Meyer’s tenure, there won’t be very many high-pressured kicks, but they always have one-or-two games that will come down to a field goal, and Buckeye fans will not forget the last two games of last season. Nuernberger has been perfect on extra points (106-of-106), but he has struggled from distance, going 16-for-24 on field goals.
From a non-place kicking point of view, it’s clear that he does not have the leg strength for kickoffs, however he could win the job with accuracy for coffin corner kickoffs — which have been the staple of Ohio State’s special teams. With Nuernberger being the only experienced specialist on the depth chart, it’s possible he could get the call there.
Most importantly, will Nuernberger have his confidence restored for 2017, or was his confidence shattered from losing his job in back-to-back years? With the uber-talented true-freshman Blake Haubeil breathing on his neck, it’s time for Nuernberger to win the job and not let go of it. The highly touted kicker will be counted on to hit every extra point, while connecting on just about every field goal attempt. Depending on the timing of the missed kicks, if the Kentucky native can replicate Durbin’s 17-of-22 (77-percent) season, he will have lived up to expectations for this season.
Check back next week for No. 9 and No. 8