2010 Outlook: Thoughts To Bank On

Ohio State's impressive 26-17 win over Oregon in the Rose Bowl is now more than 24 hours old, so it's definitely time to start looking at 2010. How does Ohio State stack up at each individual position group? Bill Greene takes the first look at 2010 in this edition of Thoughts to Bank On.

Ohio State's impressive 26-17 win over Oregon in the Rose Bowl was clearly the best moment in another successful Buckeye season, but what about next year? Are the Bucks going to make a legitimate run at the 2010 national title?

It's time to take a look at what is returning for each position group, including freshmen likely to make an impact.

QUARTERBACK. Returning: Terrelle Pryor. Kenny Guiton. Joe Bauserman. Freshman: Taylor Graham. Outlook: With Pryor coming off a stunning Rose Bowl performance, the only battle here is for the backup job. Can Guiton beat out Bauserman with a year in the system? Hard to picture Graham doing anything but redshirting in 2010.

TAILBACK. Returning: Boom Herron. Brandon Saine. Jordan Hall. Redshirt: Jaamal Berry. Freshmen: Carlos Hyde and Roderick Smith. Outlook: Three returning tailbacks from last year, plus three more with immense potential. Hard to envision Ohio State using more than four. The pick to grab the carries from the #4 spot? Jaamal Berry. The "stable" looks full for 2010.

FULLBACK. Returning: Zach Boren. James Georgiades. Adam Homan. Outlook: This position was a huge upgrade over 2009, mainly because of the emergence of Boren, who was tremendous as a freshman. This position seems stacked for 2010.

TIGHT END. Returning: Jake Stoneburner. Reid Fragel. Nic DiLillo. Outlook: The loss of Jake Ballard puts Stoneburner into the starter's role. Fragel jumped ahead of DiLillo as a true freshman, so he must be considered the favorite to be the backup. Should be a position of strength from a pass-catching perspective, but blocking remains to be seen.

WIDE RECIEVERS. Returning: Devier Posey. Dane Sanzenbacher. Duron Carter. Taurien Washington. Grant Schwartz. Redshirt: James Jackson. Chris Fields. Freshmen: Corey Brown. Tyrone Williams. Outlook: Lots of candidates for three receiving positions means the freshmen probably sit out, although Brown could figure in the return game. Having the top three receivers back means this position is in good hands, no pun intended. Posey could be an All-American in 2010.

OFFENSIVE TACKLES. Returning: J. B. Shugarts. Andy Miller. Mike Adams. Marcus Hall. Josh Kerr. Redshirt: Sam Longo. Freshman: Andrew Norwell. Outlook: The battle to replace Jim Cordle will be fun to watch in 2010. Adams, Miller and Hall should be in the fight to play opposite Shugarts, possibly making Norwell a redshirt. This group should be an upgrade over last year through experience alone, especially with Cordle playing out of position.

OFFENSIVE GUARDS. Returning: Justin Boren. Bryant Browning. Evan Blankenship. Connor Smith. Redshirt: Corey Linsley. Outlook: The pair of Browning and Boren could be among the best in the country in 2010. The main battle is for the backup spot, and don't count out Linsley being the winner. A definite strength for the Buckeyes in 2010.

CENTER. Returning: Mike Brewster. Redshirt: Jack Mewhort. Outlook: Brewster is following the same path taken by NFL star Nick Mangold, and the comparison is valid. Mewhort had a great year on the scout team and could be a factor in team depth. This is another area of strength for the Buckeyes.

DEFENSIVE ENDS. Returning: Cam Heyward. Thad Gibson. Solomon Thomas. Nathan Williams. Keith Wells. Redshirt: Melvin Fellows. Outlook: Very uncertain, mainly because of the possible departures of Heyward and Gibson. Should both decide to leave, Williams would be a certain starter, with Thomas, Fellows and Wells fighting for the other spot. Hard to see any freshman contributing, even if both Heyward and Gibson leave. If both return, this group is among the best in the country for 2010.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES. Returning: Dexter Larimore. Johnny Simon. Garrett Goebel. Redshirt: Adam Bellamy. Outlook: This group will be talented in 2010, and all indications are that Goebel is just a hair behind ultra-impressive Simon. Larimore is consistent and steady. Hard to see a freshmen breaking this rotation, unless the Buckeyes land super prospect Sharrif Floyd. Another position of strength, but depth could be a question mark.

MIDDLE LINEBACKERS. Returning: Brian Rolle. Storm Klein. Redshirt: Jordan Whiting. Outlook: Rolle had a great season as a first-year starter, while Klein showed well on special team duty. Hard to see a freshman contributing in 2010. A definite position of strength.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS. Returning: Ross Homan. Etienne Sabino. Jonathan Newsome. Andrew Sweat. Tyler Moeller. Redshirt: Dorian Bell. Freshman: Jamel Turner. Outlook: Hard to imagine a better set of linebackers in America. Homan is entrenched as a starter and it will be interesting to watch the rest of them fight for playing time. The backups could all start for a lot of schools in America.

CORNERBACKS. Returning: Devon Torrence. Chimdi Chekwa. Travis Howard. Donnie Evege. Redshirt: Dominick Clarke. Corey Brown. Outlook: This group could be hit by Chekwa's departure for the NFL, but there are replacements chomping at the bit to get on the field. Even if Chekwa returns, the battle to be the nickel back will be interesting. Travis Howard appears to be first in line. A solid group of players all the way around.

SAFETYS. Returning: Jermale Hines. C. J. Barnett. Zach Domicone. Orhian Johnson. Nate Oliver. Rocco Pentello. Redshirt: Jamie Wood. Outlook: Finally, an inexperienced group hit hard by graduation, and one that could be further weakened should Hines leave for the NFL. Assuming Hines returns, it appears Johnson gets first run on the others, based on the fact that he was ahead of them in the Rose Bowl. This is one of the only uncertain groups on the team, but history shows that first-year defensive players do well in the Buckeye system.

KICKERS. Returning: Devin Barclay. Freshman: Drew Basil. Outlook: Barclay is under-appreciated, and that's a shame because his clutch field goal kicking led to victories over Iowa and Oregon. Hard to imagine Basil challenging, but he might possibly be needed to kick off. Barclay should be better in 2010 with the added experience.

PUNTERS. Returning: Ben Buchanan. Freshman: Drew Basil. Outlook: Time for Buchanan to step up and be the special team factor the Buckeyes thought they were getting two years ago. He has a world of talent and should be able to easily replace Jon Thoma.

It's hard to find a weakness when scouting the 2010 Ohio State roster, and there is much reason for optimism. With a favorable schedule, and a boat-load of returning talent, the Buckeyes should enter next season as one of the higher-ranked teams in America, and a definite threat to win the national title.

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