QUARTERBACK: Went from ho-hum to critical with the NCAA verdict.
Terrelle Pryor: All indications are that he will return for his senior season, which is great, but where will he be after five games of inaction? Will the timing be off with his receivers? Stay tuned. FORECAST: How Pryor responds to the suspension will determine his legacy at Ohio State. What will his return do to team chemistry?
Joe Bauserman: Clearly the favorite to be under center for Game-One of 2011, based solely on the fact that he is the number two quarterback today. If Pryor goes down against Arkansas, Bauserman gets the call. FORECAST: Probably a lukewarm favorite to take the first snap of 2011, but he is the favorite.
Kenny Guiton: Great kid to have in the program, much like Bauserman, but it's far more comforting seeing both wearing ballcaps than helmets. Also like Bauserman, neither are capable of directing the Buckeyes to an undefeated season, but can either win five straight games? Today, the answer is "doubtful." FORECAST: Needs to be better, but every player is limited by his skill set, so what is a reasonable expectation?
Taylor Graham: Just might be the answer in the quest to survive five games without Pryor, and there are people quite sold on Graham. Being a game-manager will work against MAC teams, but to beat Miami and Michigan State, there must be passes completed and points put on the board. FORECAST: Don't bet against the kid with the Buckeye pedigree, and more talent than the above-listed quarterbacks.
Braxton Miller: The wild-card in the five game quarterback derby, because he has the most talent of the group, and that is not debatable. But, is he ready to win games? Probably not, would be my answer. FORECAST: Miller is more Mike Vick as a rookie than he is Tom Brady as a veteran, and we know how Ohio State values protecting the football. Can coming in early get him up to speed?
FULLBACK: As steady as any position on the team.
Zach Boren: You can make a case that Boren does his job as well as any player on the team, and there are no worries with this kid. As good a fullback as there is in America. FORECAST: What more can you say? Just an excellent football player.
Adam Homan: Trapped behind one of the best in the country, but has looked good when given the opportunity. Should Boren go down, the fullback position would be in capable hands. FORECAST: Should have red-shirted either the first year, or last year, to create separation from Boren.
James Georgiades: Do not like to list walk-ons, but this kid is a football player, and is trusted by the coaches. FORECAST: Should the unthinkable occur, and both listed ahead of him go down, Georgiades could fill the void.
TAILBACK: The glamour position on the team, with several top players. Loses Brandon Saine, which won't be noticed.
Daniel Herron: Does Boom return, or head to the NFL? In the grand scheme of things it probably does not matter. He might be the best tailback on the roster, but he is clearly the least talented, if that makes sense? He deserves the carries he gets, but he won't be hard to replace at all. FORECAST: If he returns, it makes the tailback logjam even more crowded.
Jaamal Berry: How can someone average over 8 yards per carry, but only receive 32 carries? That goes to the depth of the tailback position. Berry could be the most talented of all the tailbacks that received carries in 2010, but NOT the most talented tailback on the roster. FORECAST: Berry has to get more carries, but that might not happen, especially if Boom returns.
Roderick Smith: Look out boys and girls, because this IS the most talented tailback on the roster. I've loved him since I saw him beating defensive backs as a 220-pound wide receiver in 7on7's. My belief is once the staff gets him into a game, you're not going to get him out. He is tearing things up right now in practice, and if this were the beginning, and not the end, of the season, Smith would be getting touches. He's similar to Beanie, but tougher and a better athlete, although not as powerful. Smith has a chance to eventually be Eddie George, Keith Byars or Chris Wells, at some point. FORECAST: Don't miss the opener in 2011, because this colt will be out of the barn.
Jordan Hall: Excellent all-around football player, and another one that needs more touches, although not necessarily carries from scrimmage. Can catch the ball out of the backfield, run the Wildcat, excel in the return game, but is not the pure tailback Berry is, and the statistics bear that out. There's a reason Berry gets five less carries, but picks up over 100 more yards. FORECAST: Dynamite player, and one who needs the football, but might not get more touches in 2011.
Carlos Hyde: Was impressive in limited touches in 2010, but that could be the most action he sees in his career, barring injuries. Hard to imagine him not being on the bottom of the heap in 2011, and he's a good player. If you had this type of depth at every position, you would win every game by three touchdowns. FORECAST: Hyde has to continue to get better, but I'm not sure it will matter. Hard to see him matching his 24 carries in 2011.
The 2011 season will be an interesting one for sure at Ohio State, especially with the suspension issue bringing something we've never seen before. How will the team respond? Too soon to tell today, but it WILL be the main storyline going forward, right up to the final game.