Key Losses: Zach Boren, Etienne Sabino, Nathan Williams
Returning Starter(s): Ryan Shazier
Projected Starters: Shazier (Will), Curtis Grant (Mike) , Joshua Perry (Sam)
With only one returning starter, there are numerous questions surrounding the 2013 Buckeyes linebacking corps. Shazier is coming off of an excellent year and will be the anchor of the front seven. He will be one of the better outside linebackers in the nation but he will need to show more consistency.
The biggest question mark will be 2011 five-star recruit Curtis Grant, who started only three games last year before being benched for the remainder of the season. Will Grant be able to put it all together and become the starting middle linebacker that the coaching staff has always expected him to be? Or will he be passed over again for another option?
These other options include David Perkins, Camren Williams and Luke Roberts. Also, you cannot forget the two highly touted freshmen coming in, Mike Mitchell and Trey Johnson. It would not be surprising to see Grant supplanted by Mitchell at some point this season.
Depending on the scheme, Joshua Perry will be penciled in at either the mike (middle linebacker) or the sam (strongside linebacker). Perry has been in the starting lineup during spring practice and should be next to Shazier when the season begins. Meyer has expressed that the silver bullets will most likely be running a lot of nickle this year so only two linebackers would be needed in his 4-2-5 nickle scheme with the 5th defensive back being in the box (STAR position).
Although Shazier is the only returning starter at linebacker, the Buckeyes are loaded with talent at that position. Will Grant finally step up? Will one of the highly touted freshmen earn a starting job? Can Joshua Perry continue his great off season? There are many questions surrounding these linebackers which will be answered during spring and summer before they kick off August 31st.
On a positive note, the Buckeyes will hopefully not have to look over to the other side of the ball to fill a hole at linebacker this year.
Here is another look at Shazier’s 2012 highlight tape