The Breakdown: Linebackers

Ohio State pumps out linebackers to the NFL, and the 2010 depth chart looks like a who's who of future professional players. Two guys familiar to OSU fans and observers across the country lead the way, but the Buckeye depth goes further, as this longest edition of The Breakdown shows.

51 – Ross Homan
Sr.
6-0, 227
Coldwater, Ohio
Career: A decorated high school prospect in the mold of A.J. Hawk, Ross Homan earned immediate playing time at OSU in 2006, making 28 tackles. He looked ready for an advanced role a year later but ended up picking up a turf toe injury that ended his season. He rebounded to make 67 tackles in 2008 as the Buckeyes' third linebacker. Homan had an excellent 2009, leading the team with 108 tackles and adding five interceptions, two fumble recoveries and two sacks.

Standout Performances: Made five tackles and an interception as a freshman at Northwestern in 2006. … Picked up 10 tackles with a sack against Wisconsin in 2008. … Intercepted a pass vs. USC in 2009 while making nine tackles. … Made 15 tackles with two sacks and a forced fumble against Wisconsin to earn Big Ten player of the week honors. … Eight tackles and an interception vs. Iowa. … Made 12 tackles vs. Michigan. … Was perhaps the Buckeyes' key defensive player vs. Oregon in the 2010 Rose Bowl, making 12 tackles and picking up an interception.

Honors And Accomplishments: Second-team All-Big Ten in 2009. … Three-time OSU defensive player of the week a year ago. … Winner of the Randy Gradishar Award as Ohio State's best linebacker.

Outlook: Homan was an irresistible force as last season concluded, always seeming to be in position and sure-handed with a tackle while also collecting his fair share of big plays. He could be an All-American in 2010.

Player Comment: "Being a senior leader, you've really got to tell the young guys what they're doing well and what they're doing wrong. You have to be more vocal. It's being a senior. The coaches expect it out of you so you do it."

36 – Brian Rolle
Sr.
5-11, 218
Immokalee, Fla.
Career: Rolle wasted little time making an impact at Ohio State, seeing spot duty at linebacker and special teams time in 2007 and making 18 tackles. Rolle added 21 stops in 2008 before becoming a starter a year ago, making 94 tackles as the team's middle linebacker and adding seven tackles for loss and an interception.

Standout Performances: Earned OSU special teams player of the week honors and impressed fans with a few big hits vs. Northwestern as a freshmen. … Topped the team with nine tackles vs. Navy in the 2009 opener and clinched the win by intercepting a two-point conversion pass and returning it for a PAT. … Ended an early drive into OSU territory by Illinois with an interception and finished that game with eight tackles and a sack. … Made 14 tackles vs. Wisconsin. … Recovered a fumble for a touchdown vs. New Mexico State. … Picked up three tackles for loss among his nine stops against Michigan.

Outlook: Rolle had a solid and occasionally spectacular 2009 but still found himself out of position and struggling to shed blocks at times. He can be a star if he improves in those areas, but either way he'll make his share of plays and show up big at times.

Player Comment: "I'm not really one of those guys that just talks to talk. I like to talk about things that are important. Guys can talk in here all day and you don't remember but two or three words. I tell the young guys something that's going to help them."

6 – Etienne Sabino
Jr.
6-3, 240
North Miami Beach, Fla./Miami Krop
Career: A five-star prospect in the class of 2008, Sabino has played special teams and made occasional cameos during his first two years. He finished each of his first two seasons with six tackles apiece.

Standout Performances: Recovered a blocked punt for the game's only touchdown in a 2008 win against Purdue. … Earned his first career sack vs. Toledo last season.

Honors And Accomplishments: Earned the team's Jack Tatum hit of the week honor twice in 2008 vs. Troy and Minnesota.

Outlook: The knock on Sabino has been that he thinks too much on the field rather than playing with flow, but the word in spring was that his natural talent was starting to shine through. He figures to be the starting strongside (third) linebacker and could have a breakout campaign.

Teammate Comment: "The Sam spot is probably the toughest of the linebackers to adjust to. You're really a hybrid. Sometimes you're a safety and sometimes you're a D-lineman. You've got to be athletic but at the same time strong and able to take on tight ends and O-linemen. I think he's done a great job of that and I think he's going to really improve for next year." – Homan

42 – Andrew Sweat
Jr.
6-2, 238
Washington (Pa.) Trinity
Career: Just like Sabino, Sweat has been a part-time and special teams player each of his first two seasons. He picked up five tackles as a freshman and upped that total to 15 last season.

Standout Performances: Picked off a pass in the fourth quarter against Toledo at Cleveland Browns Stadium in 2009. … Made five tackles and a sack vs. Illinois with Homan out with a concussion. … Forced a fumble against Indiana along with three stops.

Outlook: Sweat suffered an injury near the end of last season and missed the spring, but he appeared to be progressing nicely in off-field drills and could be ready to go come fall camp. There were some thoughts that he could redshirt while rehabbing, but this story won't be completed until camp is over.

Teammate Comment: "He's versatile, a guy that's played Mike, Will, Sam, so he's a guy that when he gets back, people are going to be saying ‘Wasn't this guy in the middle, wasn't he outside?' because he's a guy that's going to be moved everywhere." – Rolle

26 – Tyler Moeller
Sr.
6-0, 210
Cincinnati Colerain
Career: Though he's listed as a senior, Moeller is expected to get a medical redshirt after missing last year with a head injury suffered when he was assaulted in a bar in Florida. He was cleared to play in June, and Buckeye fans hope he returns to the effective player he was before the injury. After redshirting in 2006, he made eight tackles as a reserve and special teamer in '07. Moeller increased his playing time in '08, making 18 tackles.

Standout Performances:Blocked a punt in the 2007 opener against Youngstown State. … Made six tackles vs. the Penguins a year later to lead the team. … Started at Illinois that year and made seven stops with two TFL and a forced fumble.

Outlook: First things first, Moeller must prove he's fully healthy. If he can do that, he's an interesting weapon for OSU to deploy. A bit undersized to be a full-time linebacker, he's played safety, linebacker and star at OSU. He provides versatility and an attacking mentality.

Player Comment: "I'm just going to come out the first day I can hit again and just hit someone as hard as I can, and if I'm good to go after that I'm not going to worry about it again. You can't play football worrying about injuries."

32 – Storm Klein
Soph.
6-2, 230
Newark (Ohio) Licking Valley
Career: Klein enrolled early and found that the ticket to playing time in 2009, though most of it came on special teams. He finished his freshman campaign with 10 tackles.

Outlook: The talent in front of him figures to limit Klein's playing time, but he will continue to play special teams and spot duty at linebacker when the situation calls for it.

55 – Jonathan Newsome
Soph.
6-3, 219
Cleveland Glenville
Career: Newsome made enough of an impression on the coaching staff to play a season ago, mostly on special teams. He made five tackles in eight games. Despite missing part of spring, Newsome still made an impact in drills and then posted three solo stops in the spring game.

Outlook: Newsome's play keeps begging that he find the field in some fashion. Though it's hard to imagine he'll play much linebacker, Newsome could continue to see spot duty in 2010. He figures to be a disruptive force at either linebacker or rush end in the future.

11 – Dorian Bell
R-Fr.
6-1, 225
Monroeville (Pa.) Gateway
Career: A five-star prospect in the class of 2009, Bell was expected to make an impact right away. Instead, he redshirted last year before moving up to the second unit in the spring season. He concluded the 15 practice sessions with a Scarlet-team leading five tackles in the spring game, including one TFL.

Outlook: The feisty linebacker has loads of talent – and attitude when he gets to the ball – but might need to wait his turn given the talent ahead of him. Given his ability, Bell has impact player written all over him, but 2010 might not be his year.

Coach Comment: "Dorian Bell has done a good job as a guy who is trying to learn the system, but when it comes down to just playing football he flashes a lot." – linebackers coach Luke Fickell

39 – Jordan Whiting
R-Fr.
6-1, 238
Louisville (Ky.) Trinity
Career: Another linebacker in OSU's heralded 2009 class, Whiting flashed plenty during fall camp last year but took a redshirt.

Outlook: Whiting seems to end up near the ball during practice sessions but still was working behind his classmates in the spring. A weight-room fanatic, Whiting figures to have a good career at OSU; he just might have to wait his turn in a crowded LB room.

Teammate Comment: "He's more like Sabino was last year. He's more the guy that's mechanical. He's right here where he thinks his assignment is rather than just going and playing. We were looking at a play earlier where, ‘Shoot the gap!' That's what the coaches tell us, if it's open, go. But he's a guy that wants to be ‘I'm in the ‘A' gap, this is my ‘A' gap.' He's kind of like Sabino was, but he's a guy that's coming along. He knows what he has to do, he just has to be comfortable with what he's doing." – Rolle

38 – Scott McVey
Fr.
6-0, 218
Lyndhurst, Ohio/Cleveland St. Ignatius
Career: A four-star linebacker and one of the top MLB prospects in the nation last year, McVey shined in leading Iggy to a state title as a junior while making 144 tackles, 44 TFL and 18 sacks. Last year as a senior at the Forest City prep power, McVey fought injuries but was still an impact player.

Outlook: McVey plays with guts and a good nose for the football, but he figures to redshirt given the talent on hand ahead of him.

Coach Comment: "We definitely want that guy on the field somewhere whether it's inside the box or outside the box because he runs well enough to be out there. He brings another physical presence to us that we're excited about." – cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson

33 – David Durham
Fr.
6-1, 231
Charlotte (N.C.) Christian
Career: A three-star prospect, Durham was one of OSU's early commitments in the class of 2010. He was a native of Texas at the time but moved to North Carolina to post senior totals of 86 tackles and 9½ sacks.

Outlook: Much like McVey, Durham has talent but is at a crowded position. A feisty player, Durham could add weight and play at linebacker or end, or he could be an athletic hybrid player. Either way, his 2010 work should amount to special teams at most.

Coach Comment: "He's a great kid. He's a kid that we think can play a lot of different positions. Both his junior and senior year he played both standing up and with his hand on the ground. He's a versatile kid. Where we'll start him at is obviously linebacker, but he's a kid that we think has the ability to move around. He's a student of the game. He's going to be an exciting addition to whichever group he's with." – Fickell

Walk-ons
41 Tony Jackson (5-11, 220): Jackson goes into his junior year as a special teams contributor who has seen spot duty on the field as a linebacker.

35 James Hastings (5-10, 205): Hastings joined the team a year ago and works mostly with the third team.

Recruiting
Committed for 2011 – None

2011 ProspectsTrey DePriest, 6-2, 230, Springfield, Ohio, Scout's No. 3 MLB in 2011. Andre Sturdivant, 6-3, 245, Cleveland Glenville, Scout's No. 18 MLB in 2011. Kent Turene, 6-3, 225, Lauderdake Lakes (Fla.) Boyd Anderson, Scout's No. 20 OLB in 2011.

Committed for 2012Josh Perry, Lewis Center (Ohio) Olentangy, 6-3, 225. OSU's first commit in the class, Perry figures to be one of the top prospects in Ohio come his senior year.

Top 2012 Prospects Derek David, 6-4, 228, Rockdale, Texas; Kaleb Ringer, 6-1, 225, Clayton (Ohio) Northmont; James Ross, 6-0, 200, Orchard Lake (Mich.) St. Mary's.


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