While chatting with a number of our subscribers at the BSB/Scout.com tailgate prior to the spring game (graciously hosted by Susan), I found myself talking a lot about who I felt might be the starters this fall and who has caught my eye this spring.
I admit that I am far from a national talent evaluator, but I have the ability to notice when a player is starting to catch on and elevate his game. It is not possible to formulate specific opinions on every single member of the roster, but what follows are my guesses as to who will start, who will not and who might surprise you this year.
Who will start on the offensive line? This has been the question that seems to matter most to the members of our website, and for good reason. Fans only need to watch the clips of Alex Boone, Bryant Browning and the like getting abused on a national stage to see that it is a unit that needs some tweaking.
I am certain of one thing: Justin Boren will be the starting left guard, and he will be a mauler. Beyond that, here is my guess as to things will shake out.
I think that Mike Adams will find a way to start the year as the left tackle. I'm not certain that he will remain there the entire season, but I do think he will start the year there. He had his struggles during the spring that were well-documented, but this kid just looks like a future dominant left tackle to me. He's been tested by fire, and I think he will respond to that.
As for the right side of the line, I am counting on J.B. Shugarts to have a big fall and become a factor at the right tackle spot. If he can catch on quickly enough, I like keeping him there and moving Jim Cordle to right guard. This allowed Browning to serve as the jack-of-all-trades backup who can fill in when necessary.
Who will be the second starting cornerback? All things equal, Devon Torrence.
I've tried to watch the battle between Torrence and Andre Amos as closely as possible this spring, and both players have looked impressive. Amos looks solid and dependable, but Torrence looks explosive and simply nasty. Wide receivers don't seem to like going against him in one-on-one drills.
However, everything is not equal here. Torrence will have to weigh the possibility of playing baseball again this summer as per his agreement with Tressel, and I would not fault him for heading to the diamond this summer – particularly if money is involved.
But if Torrence plays baseball and Amos remains in Columbus, working with his teammates and taking part in every 7-on-7 drill all summer long, I have a hard time thinking that Tressel would not go with the senior here.
I think there will be room for both of them to play this fall, but I do not see either of them challenging Chimdi Chekwa for his starting spot.
Who has been the biggest surprise? The obvious answer here is Brandon Saine. For the first time since he bounced one outside and scored a salt-in-the-wounds touchdown against Washington, Saine looked like a powerful, speedy back who can play a big role in the OSU offense.
If he stays healthy, he will see plenty of carries this fall.
What of Terrelle Pryor? This is the guy that I watched the most this spring because the offense will only go as far as he can take it. As such, for the first three weeks or practice, I was a little bit concerned.
In less-than-ideal conditions, Pryor's throwing ability looked questionable at best. He was skipping medium-deep passes, overthrowing deep ones and side-arming short ones. I wrote several times in my notebook that backup Joe Bauserman looked like the far better passer, and privately I wondered if they would have to find a way for him to get in for some passing situations.
All those concerns were laid to rest during the final week of practice, as Pryor transformed into a completely different passer. What fans saw in the spring game had been foreshadowed during two practice sessions during the final week of practice.
I've seen Pryor throw the ball deep before when I saw him play in high school, so I've known the ability is there. Now you're starting to see it on a more consistent basis, and that bodes well for the future of the Buckeyes.
What will be the backbone of this team? Easy. The defensive line. There are enough players here that are good enough to play every down that it will be hard to find a rotation to keep everyone happy.
Look for Doug Worthington to have a monster year. To me, he was the most impressive lineman in that I always felt he underachieved a bit in past year. He looks like he can legitimately play inside or on the end, and I'm looking for a big year from him.
Aside from Worthington, Thaddeus Gibson, Cameron Heyward and Solomon Thomas have had impressive springs. If Rob Rose and Lawrence Wilson can put it together after missing all or part of the spring with injuries, look out.