Most Important Buckeyes: No. 9
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS — On a team which threw a total of 18 touchdown passes a year ago, the man with nine career scores is king.
Photo by Jim Davidson
At least that’s the way it seems with Jake Stoneburner, who comes in at No. 9 on our countdown of the Top 20 Most Important Buckeyes for this coming season.
The former wide receiver turned tight end is apparently a wide receiver once again, and head coach Urban Meyer is going to ask a lot of his fifth-year senior in 2012.
The real question is whether Stoneburner is up to the task.
What Makes Him Important
Stoneburner would likely be higher than 9 on our countdown if not for his untimely suspension over the summer. This is a team that desperately needs leadership anywhere it can be found, so getting arrested for running from the police is not exactly the message Meyer wants from his senior class.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Nevertheless, Stoneburner will be counted on to lead this OSU passing attack in 2012. The Buckeyes don’t have anyone else on their roster with more than 22 career receptions (Philly Brown), which makes Stoneburner incredibly important to quarterback Braxton Miller.
Miller has developed great chemistry with guys like Devin Smith and Michael Thomas, a pair of vertical threats, but he will need a guy he can trust to move the chains when the chips are down.
What Can Be Expected Of Him
He was good, not great, as the Buckeyes’ starting tight end the last two seasons, but that’s not going to be good enough for Meyer this season. Ohio State’s first-year head coach challenged him to play at an All-American level as a senior, and this offense should give him a chance to do just that.
Meyer wants to use Stoneburner the way he used Aaron Hernandez at Florida back in 2008-09. Hernandez was arguably the best tight end in the country his junior year, and won the Mackey Award that season before turning pro.
Stoneburner is bigger, stronger and possibly even faster than Hernandez was at Florida. That doesn’t guarantee he will have an All-American type year, but it should be drastically improved over last season.
What Would the Buckeyes Do Without Him
The good news for Ohio State fans is that Meyer has two other capable tight ends in Jeff Heuerman and Nick Vannett. The emergence of Vannett this fall probably helped make the decision to move Stoneburner to receiver full-time.
What the Buckeyes would miss in Stoneburner, however, is the only guy on this offense with real experience. Last season barely counts. Remember, Stoneburner was third on the team in receiving two years ago (behind Sanzenbacher and Posey) for a squad that won 12 games and beat Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl.
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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