Next Big Thing - Offense

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Established October 31, 1996
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Last updated: 07/19/2011 4:04 AM

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The Next Big Thing -- Offense
By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — There is going to be a different feel around Ohio State this fall, and not just because of the absence of former head coach Jim Tressel.

The man behind the sweater vest certainly left an indelible mark on the team, the program and the entire state of Ohio, but Buckeye football has and always will be about the players.

Even without Terrelle Pryor, the program is still loaded with talent, but there will be a noticeable lack of big names when Ohio State takes the field against Akron on Sept. 3.

DeVier Posey, Boom Herron and Mike Adams all become household names last season as juniors, but all three will miss the first five games of the 2011 season because of suspension.

Center Michael Brewster is an All-American and tight end Jake Stoneburner blossomed as pass-catcher last season, but here is a look at the some of some young players who could be the next big thing in Columbus.

Starting with the offense:

Braxton Miller
Photo by Jim Davidson
Braxton Miller

QB Braxton Miller — Only a freshman, Miller might already be the most well known name on the roster following his standout career at Huber Heights Wayne High School. He has a strong, accurate arm and quick feet that made him one of the most coveted quarterback prospects in the class of 2011, but how quickly can he grasp the offense at Ohio State? With his talent level, the question is ‘when’ not ‘if’ he becomes the starting quarterback.

Taylor Graham
Photo by Jim Davidson
Taylor Graham

QB Taylor Graham — If Miller isn’t under center for the Buckeyes this fall it could very well be because of Taylor Graham. The redshirt freshman out of Illinois has a natural pedigree for the position and year of learning the system under his belt. He will have to hold off Miller if he wants to keep the position long-term, but his arm strength and accuracy throwing down the field make him a possible star.

Jordon Hall
Photo by Jim Davidson
Jordan Hall

RB Jordan Hall — The name Jordan Hall is hardly new to Buckeye fans, but his role with the 2011 Buckeyes could be. After serving as the No. 3 tailback and top return man last season, Hall could become Mr. Everything for Ohio State this fall. His teammates are calling him an ‘offensive playmaker’ and Hall should do everything from carry the ball, to catching it out of the slot to returning kicks.

Jaamal Berry
Photo by Jim Davidson
Jamaal Berry

RB Jaamal Berry — If Hall does find himself lined up more in the slot this fall, it should open up more opportunities for Jaamal Berry to tote the rock out of the backfield. That’s how it worked for Herron last season when Brandon Saine became an offensive playmaker, and there’s no question the Buckeyes need to get Berry on the field. Maybe he isn’t the best pass blocker on the team, but without Pryor, Herron and Posey—not to mention team MVP Dane Sanzenbacher—this team needs playmakers. Berry provides just that with a burst and breakaway ability unlike anyone else on the roster.

RB Rod Smith — If the Buckeyes are looking for a little bit more complete back, then Smith could also see a lot of carries while Herron is out of the lineup. The 6-2, 220-pound back out of Indiana has ‘future star’ written all over him, but now he has to turn that future into the present.

WR Corey Brown — Anyone who saw ‘Philly’ Brown last season knows that this kid can really fly. He makes up for his 5-10 size with blazing straight-away speed, but the question is whether he can hold on to the football long enough to make him dangerous.

WR T.Y. Williams — anyone in the receiving corps has more potential for greatness than Brown, it has to be T.Y. Williams. At 6-foot-6, Williams is a physical specimen. He has good speed and leaping ability and has added some bulk to his otherwise wiry frame since he arrived last fall. Former receivers coach Darrell Hazell touted him as the next great thing, and he has seen his fair share of good ones.

WR Devin Smith — Even with the uncertainty at wide receiver this fall, Smith may not get much playing time as a true freshman in 2011. If and when he does, Smith has all the tools to be a bigger Dane Sanzenbacher type player for the Buckeyes. Obviously Sanzenbacher made huge plays in big games, which is something Smith showed a knack for in high school. He has good hands, he’s tough and he can make the spectacular catch.

OT Andrew Norwell — Take nothing away from the other young offensive linemen at Ohio State, but Norwell seems to have something special about him. The massive offensive tackle is strong with good technique and he got valuable playing time as true freshman behind J.B. Shugarts last fall. Marcus Hall is a similar player, but Norwell is our pick as a potential future star on the front line.

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