I can't begin to tell you the number of inside or mike backers that Ohio State has developed over the past three decades. I know I am leaving off a number of exceptional players, but a partial list would include; Randy Gradishar, Tom Cousineau, Marcus Merek, Chris Spielman, Steve Tovar, Andy Katzenmoyer and AJ Hawk. I'm certain I'm not breaking any new ground, with this statement, but all future lists in my opinion should likely include the name of one James Laurinaitis.
With the exception of Hawk and Cousineau none of the aforementioned players were particularly good athlete, but each had great playing instincts, were highly competitive, productive, physical and tough. Sound familiar? Well in a nutshell I just described Laurinaitis. I don't see him as a three down player (thought he struggled some in coverage, but he's a rugged individual who will step up and be counted with the game on the line.
I have to tell you I was a little disappointed in the play of USC's inside man Rey Maualuga. He is a very tough hombre who will step up, meet pressure and put the ball carrier on his butt. This guy will step on your hands and do everything necessary to beat you. I thought he had a tendency to overplay things when moving down the line, had just limited playing range, lacks a closing burst, struggled with his direction change and he's not going to be in the ball game on third down. He has too much toughness and guile not to become a top player, but make no mistake about it, this player has physical limitations that will follow him throughout his professional career.
I'm really not a major fan of the remaining inside players, but believe all, including some of the suspects below the line. Beckwith is an experienced hand, but I question his overall playing instincts. McKillop was a productive, between the tackles player. Again, I thought he was just a limited athlete with little in the way of range and marginal in coverage. Brian Toal is a player that bears watching. An inside backer and short yardage fullback starter at a freshman, he was red shirted in 2007 due to his injury to his shoulder and this past season a broken right fibula versus Virginia Tech. He can run, has range and is an explosive player on contact. He's not particularly big, but if he can overcome the injury the injury jinx, I believe he could develop into a contributing back up and special team player.
|1||Laurinaitis, James||Ohio St||6017v||244v||4.80v||1.16|
|8||Toal, Brian||Boston College||6002v||229v||4.72v||1.61|
|10||Crum, Maurice||Notre Dame||5115v||236v||4.89v||1.77|
|Warren, Brett||Virginia Tech||6004v||232v||4.77v||1.80|
|Wooten, Morris||Arizona St||5115v||231v||5.04v||1.90|
|Arnoux, Stanley||Wake Forest||6000v||232v||4.59v||1.90|
|Ivy, Mortty||West Virginia||6014v||248v||4.94v||1.90|
|Nicholson, Derek||Florida St||5117v||231v||4.89v||1.90|
Kickers, Punters, and Long Snappers
|3||Miller, Chris||Ball St||6013v||208v||4.74v||1.79|
|Brantly, Justin||Texas A&M||6031v||247v||4.86v||1.90|
|1||Gano, Graham||Florida St||6003v||194v||5.00e||1.54|
|Fodge, Matt||Oklahoma St||6002v||193v||4.96v||1.90|
|Swank, Sam||Wake Forest||6000v||193v||5.00e||1.90|