Most Important Buckeyes: No. 1
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS — Here it is. The moment you have all been waiting for. The culmination of our mind-bending, stomach-turning countdown of the Top 20 Most Important Buckeyes for 2012.
Without further ado, we introduce to you the No. 1 player on our countdown, the guy who means more to this Ohio State football team, the first of Urban Meyer’s career, than any other player on the roster.
He is big, he is bad and he is ready to be a terror on the defensive line for the Buckeyes this fall. That’s why John Simon is the No. 1 ranked…
Wait. What? Simon’s already been taken? Who could possibly have taken Simon at No. 2? The guy is an absolute beast on the defensive line and probably Meyer’s favorite player on the team.
He recently called Simon one of the top 4-5 guys he has ever been around, so who could be more valuable to the Buckeyes in 2012?
Photo by Dan Harker
How about the quarterback.
As Meyer has often pointed out, quarterbacks tend to get way too much credit when things go well, but they also get a whole lot of blame when they don’t. Things didn’t go very well for the Buckeyes last year, but it was an invaluable learning experience for Braxton Miller, the real No. 1 on our countdown of the Top 20 Most Important Buckeyes for 2012.
What Makes Him Important?
Besides the fact Meyer keeps saying his quarterback cannot have a bad snap, let alone a bad day in this offense? Nothing much. While Meyer may not like so much attention on his young signal caller, the reality is that football has become a quarterback-driven sport at almost every level.
It is rare to find a winning football team that is not at least above average at the quarterback position. Above average is probably how Meyer would describe backup Kenny Guiton right now – which is a lot better than he would have described him a few months ago – but Miller has a chance to be special.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Especially in this system. He is athletic enough to play in any system, but unlike Terrelle Pryor, he isn’t built for chaos. He pulled that game-winning touchdown against Wisconsin out of thin air, but this new offense is designed to create one-on-one matchups in the open field.
As a result, this offense will only be as good as Miller can be as the triggerman, especially with a lack of experienced playmakers around him on offense.
What can be expected of him?
A Heisman Trophy, I suppose.
If this offense is really as dangerous as it was while Meyer was at Florida, and really even before that, it’s all on Braxton Miller to be as good as he can be, which could be pretty good. Meyer has called him the best athlete he’s ever coach at quarterback, which in some quarters is close to blasphemy.
Tim Tebow was an amazing football player, but I doubt many would argue he was more athletic than Miller. Same goes for Chris Leak, Alex Smith and even Josh Harris. Miller has a uniquely gifted athlete who can turn a five yard gain into a 50 yard touchdown run.
Photo by Jim Davidson
He did last year in an offense that tended to bottle him up unnecessarily, but now Miller will be unleashed on the country in an Urban Meyer offense that can put points on the board with the best of them.
Offensive coordinator Tom Herman recently said Miller is still more of an athlete playing quarterback than an athletic quarterback, but every step he takes will be in the right direction now.
What Would the Buckeyes Do Without Him?
Meyer has gone on record that Ohio State is a lot further ahead of where his other programs were when he took over because they have a guy like Miller at quarterback.
Photo by Jim Davidson
At Bowling Green, they had to fit Josh Harris into the new system, and it worked. At Utah, they had to fit their system around Alex Smith, and it worked. Same thing at Florida with Chris Leak.
Now Meyer doesn’t have to force anything, it just fits with Braxton Miller. A little bit with Guiton as well, but not nearly as much. Guiton has turned himself around over the past six months, but he is not the athlete Miller is.
Without Braxton, there would be no reason to believe the Buckeyes could have a 10-12 win season during Meyer’s first year in Columbus. With him, the Buckeyes are talking about going undefeated, and Miller is the right guy to make it happen.
Most Important: No. 2 John Simon
Most Important: No. 3 Johnathan Hankins
Most Important: No. 4 Corey Linsley
Most Important: No. 5 Carlos Hyde
Most Important: No. 6 Jack Mewhort
Most Important: No. 7 Ryan Shazier
Most Important: No. 8 Curtis Grant
Most Important: No. 9 Jake Stoneburner
Most Important: No. 10 Bradley Roby
Most Important: No. 11 Zach Boren
Most Important: No. 12 C.J. Barnett
Most Important: No. 13 Devin Smith
Most Important: No. 14 Corey Brown
Most Important: No. 15 Jordan Hall
Most Important: No. 16 Christian Bryant
Most Important: No. 17 Reid Fragel
Most Important: No. 18 Ben Buchanan
Most Important: No. 19 Michael Bennett
Most Important: No. 20 Drew Basil
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